My Dog Suffers From Seasonal Allergies

Ranked #1,111 in Pets & Animals, #28,362 overall

Spring into Action and Learn More About Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

As I sit here writing this lens it is yet another cold, gray, overcast day here in the Northern VA area. I find myself, as I am sure many other people do, longing for the arrival of Spring. Unfortunately, as much as I look forward to all the beauty Spring brings I also find myself dreading the effect it will have on my sweet little LolaBelle, our little Yorkie mix that you may have read about in my lens entitled, Lola, a Human in a Dog's Body. Each and every year Lola suffers the onslaught of seasonal allergy symptoms just as we humans do.

In this lens, I will detail my personal experience with seasonal allergies in my dog, and hope to help other dog owners whose pets may also have allergies. If you are a fellow allergy sufferer, you are all to familiar with what this means, and how hard the symptoms are to control.

UPDATE: Spring has finally arrived bringing us milder temperatures, but also the dreaded tree pollen. Just like every year for the past seven years, LolaBelle's symptoms have steadily increased, along with the pollen count. Thankfully, this year she does not seem to be in too much distress, but her eye symptoms are worse than ever before, and sadly there are no allergy eye drops for dogs that I am aware of. However, she does not suffer alone as my husband and I are also in the allergy boat right beside her! I have complied some pictures to show the progression of her eye symptoms this year, and to demonstrate how allergy symptoms appear in a dog. If you take a look at the pictures in the photo gallery below, you will be able to see the uptick in her allergy symptoms.

Is Your Dog Allergic?

Learn to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Allergies in Your Dog

Lola is allergic to both tree and grass pollen. Tree pollen starts in late February and goes through May in our area of northern Virginia. Grass pollen begins in early June and runs through the Summer. Surprisingly, the signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs are very similar to those we humans deal with. They experience itchy, irritated skin and eyes more than other symptoms.The skin on Lola’s tummy will appear reddened and irritated during this time of year. However, I have not noticed the runny nose and sneezing in her as I would in a person. The way dogs deal with these symptoms is just a tad different.

Before I knew she had allergies I thought she was just being a dog, however I learned the hard way that I needed to be aware of her behavior, as she has no other way to communicate with me. Instead of reaching for the Kleenex or hydrocortisone cream as a human would, Lola will seem very uncomfortable, and persistently change positions or attempt to “itch” an area she cannot reach. She will constantly scratch and lick certain very itchy areas, often referred to as “hot spots.” She will scratch and lick an area until she breaks the skin as shown in this picture. Lola will also rub her eyes with her front paws frequently and her eyes may drain more during allergy season. If you notice any of these signs in your dog as Spring and Summer approach your pet could very well be suffering from seasonal allergies.

Allergic Eye Symptoms

These photos show the worsening of LolaBelle's allergic eye symptoms.

This photo was taken in late December, and as you can see LolaBelle's eyes were free of any drainage.

This photo was taken in late March-early April and the drainage was not so bad.

Another shot of her eye symptoms taken in late March-early April.

As April progressed her symptoms continued to become worse, despite the use of antihistamines.

Another shot of the increased amount of eye drainage taken in mid-April.

I took this this picture right before Easter and you can tell how the symptoms have worsened.

Does Your Dog Have Seasonal Allergies?

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So Your Dog is Allergic... Now What Do You Do?

Managing Symptoms at Home

Symptoms of allergies in dogs are difficult to control, at best. Think about it for a second, all dogs absolutely love to go outside for walks, run in the grass, roll in the grass, and just simply to investigate — it’s the high point of their day. Unfortunately, for the dog with a grass or tree pollen allergy, this directly exposes them to the cause of their symptoms. After multiple visits to the vet in order to get her allergies under control, I gained some knowledge of some steps I could take at home to minimize Lola’s symptoms.

For starters, as allergy season approaches, I begin to wipe her down with unscented baby wipes after all of our walks outside. This will remove most of the pollen on her hair and paws, and will prevent her from transferring it to her eyes and onto the furniture and, yes, she is allowed on all of the furniture! Does she like this, you may be asking, and the answer is, yes!! Lola must find the wipes cool and soothing, as she now stands and waits for me to wipe her off with them. Also, do not waste your money on the “pet wipes” you find at most pet stores. I have not found these to be any different from or better than regular baby wipes, which are more affordable.

We also bathe her more frequently, up to once a week, during this time of the year to rid her of the pollen she picks up outdoors. We use unscented hypoallergenic pet shampoos containing oatmeal. Oatmeal relieves itchy skin, caused by numerous conditions, in humans and dogs alike. Lola, like most dogs, does not enjoy getting a bath, and is quite dramatic about the entire process, as you can tell from this picture.

Additionally, we started her on a fish oil supplement for dogs. It is given daily; the dose depends on the weight of the dog. Fish oil helps with dry itchy skin and even makes the coat healthier. Of course, I do not recommend you begin any new medication or supplement, such as fish oil, prior to consulting with your dog’s veterinarian.

When To Go To the Vet

When What You are Doing at Home is Not Working

If you are doing all you can at home to manage your dog’s allergy symptoms, but your pet still seems to be miserable, a call to your vet is within reason. He or she may attempt to control the problem over the phone by advising you of additional measures to take or, if needed, to come in for a sick visit. If you follow the instructions from the veterinarian, and your dog is still not improving, call the vet back for further instruction.

Treatment Options:
In order to get a dog’s allergies under better control, a veterinarian may prescribe an OTC (over the counter) antihistamine such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to be administered several times per day. If Benadryl does not help your pet, then other antihistamines can be given to aid in managing allergy symptoms. Examples of different antihistamines often used in dogs include Zyrtec (cetirizine) and hydroxizine. These medications are made for humans but can also be administered to animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Special medicated conditioners can also be prescribed to aid in symptom relief for your dog as well.

You may be wondering if it is really necessary to go to the expense of taking your dog to the vet since human medications can be used to relieve their symptoms. It is important to note that, although human medications can be administered to dogs, the doses depend on the weight of the animal. Also, the frequency with which these medications are given to dogs differs from the human instructions on the packaging. If your pet is exhibiting allergic symptoms, the dog should be examined by a veterinarian in order rule out other skin conditions which could be causing the symptoms, and to develop a treatment plan. Your dog’s treatment plan may include OTC medications, but the vet may also prescribe steroids or antibiotics. Steroids can be given in short courses in severe cases to decrease inflammation and itching. If you notice areas of skin have been broken and infection has developed due to your dog continually scratching and licking, a course of antibiotics may be needed. This is what happened with my dog a few years ago. As you can tell from this photo we had to use the dreaded “cone of shame” or E-collar to prevent her from scratching and licking the infected areas. Isn’t she pitiful?

You should contact your veterinarian right away if you note an area of broken red skin because infection may have begun to develop. Once skin integrity has been altered, and the dog continues to lick and scratch the area, infection is sure to follow. Other signs of infection would include a “hot spot” that does not heal or becomes swollen and hot to touch, oozing of pus, or a foul smelling drainage from a sore or from the eyes. If an infection is left untreated for a lengthy period of time it will eventually spread throughout the dog’s system leading to serious complications. Fortunately, most small infections such as the one LolaBelle had, can be cured quickly with antibiotics and preventive measures such as the E-collar.

I cannot stress to you enough how very important it is to get established with good veterinarian. It is key to maintaining your dog’s health and the owner’s sanity. If we had not had such a wonderful working relationship with our vet clinic we would not have made through that terrible allergy season with LolaBelle a few years ago. If you have a vet and are not crazy about him or her, then find another one. Talk with other doggy parents to find out where they take their dogs and then research the recommendations online.

Administering Medications Safely to Your Pet

Do you have a dog with allergies?

Thank you for visiting this lens. I hope I have provided you with some useful information. How do you manage your pet’s allergies? Please share your experiences and questions with me.
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  • Arachnea Mar 31, 2014 @ 7:56 pm
    i don't have a pet at this time. pets i've had in the past didn't have any medical conditions other than stubbornness (but then that's psychological, right? with more and more pets having health issues similar to humans, i guess i shouldn't be surprised that they can get seasonal allergies as well, but i am. very informative. congrats on lotd.
  • Tracy1973 Apr 01, 2014 @ 9:43 am
    Thank you very much for your comments!!
  • vikksimmons Mar 26, 2014 @ 2:19 pm
    I had a friend who had a bull dog who was allergic to pine needles and hated grass. Great tips.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:41 pm
    Wow! I have never met a dog who hated grass. Mine loves it even though she is allergic. Glad you liked the lens! Thanks for the comment!
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Mar 25, 2014 @ 7:30 pm
    Your Lola is so fortunate to have a nurse for her caregiver. I'm thankful for all the extras you are willing to do for her. I don't recall ever having a dog with allergies. Thanks for the valuable tips. Very much appreciated. Congrats on Lens of the Day!
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 7:38 pm
    Thanks a million for such a lovely comment! I tell you even as a nurse I was at my wits end with trying to get her allergies under control a few years ago. Nurses are always harder on themselves when we cannot heal our sick family members, be they human or canine! Still floating on cloud 9 about LoTD!!!
  • Rawenize Mar 25, 2014 @ 6:39 pm
    Great LotD! A lot of useful information, I now know hot to reconize my futur dog's allergies... Well... I hope he won't contract any :)
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 7:36 pm
    Thank you for the comments and for checking out my lens! I should tell you allergies are not a condition which can be transmitted or contracted between dogs, or people for that matter. Your future doggy will either have them or not and hopefully he or she will not.
  • Mia-Mia Mar 25, 2014 @ 1:14 pm
    Congrats on the LOTD! This has to be so very exciting for your 2nd ever lens to with this coveted award. You have proven yourself early-on as a great writer. My dog, C.C. doesn't have allergies, at least none that we know of. Her problems, luxating patella and arthritis, seem to be mostly genetically-related problems common to her breed. Again, congrats on a job well done.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 2:00 pm
    Many thanks! I am so excited I don't know what to do with myself! Glad your little C.C. does not suffer from allergies in addition to her arthritis and luxating patella problems. Thanks again for the comments and dropping by.
  • Mar 25, 2014 @ 12:49 pm
    I don't currently have a dog but I have heard of this and I like the way you delivered the information. Well organized and very well written. A well deserved Purple Star and LotD!
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 2:01 pm
    Thank you very much for your great comments and the congrats! So happy you enjoyed reading the lens and found it to your liking.
  • DeniseMcGill Mar 25, 2014 @ 12:12 pm
    We don't have a dog now but we did have a poodle with allergies. He would rub his eyes and actually sneeze. His hair was long enough to protect his skin for the most part but he looked miserable with his eyes running. We couldn't keep him from running through the pasture next door, of course, as it was his favorite thing, but like you we had to wipe him down regularly and bath him more often in the spring.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 12:26 pm
    Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience with allergies in dogs. LolaBelle is having eye symptoms now and it is awful to see her rub her eyes. I know she is getting more pollen in her eyes by doing so, but it is hard to keep her from doing it. I gave up trying to keep her out of the grass. We have no pastures around but if we did she would be running through it too!!
  • favored1 Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:53 am
    I feel so bad for your dog, but glad you were able to identify the problem. Congratulations on LotD and the purple star.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 12:05 pm
    Thank you very much for the congrats and for your comments on my lens. We are not yet in the worst of allergy season here, but I am already in action! She is on her meds now and I pray this will keep things under control this year. It was an exhausting ordeal a few years back and it seemed like an eternity before we could get her comfortable. Your dog is precious btw!
  • grammieo Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:03 am
    I guess I was lucky that both dogs I have had did not suffer from allergies. I know in humans they can be miserable to cope with, so I can only imagine it would be more so for pets that can't communicate their discomfort! Congrats on LoTD!
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:06 am
    Thank you for dropping by my lens and I am super thrilled about LoTD!! You are right, it is definitely much more of a challenge because she cannot communicate verbally with us. Thankfully going through that bad season we have learned to listen to her non-verbals!
  • campingman Mar 25, 2014 @ 10:58 am
    No, but you do share some important information here, which is probably why the Lens of the day selection, so congratulations on that and your writing grabbed the Purple Star award also. Nice job all around....cheers.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:10 am
    Thank you very much for your comments!!
  • d-artist Mar 25, 2014 @ 10:10 am
    Congratulations on LOTD! I'm glad my dog never had allergies...I feel sorry for your doggie Lola...hope she'll do better this year with all the funny weather we've had.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 10:49 am
    Thank you!!! I am soooo excited! Thanks also for dropping by my lens. I hope she has a better time this season. We are keep our paws crossed!
  • absolutebird Mar 25, 2014 @ 9:59 am
    Yes I do. My dog Ally has horrible allergies. She has a double coat so it is difficult to see her skin, but she is constantly rolling on the carpet or scooting on the cement outside. We do give her Benadryl as recommended by her Vet. But it only works for maybe four hours at the most. We plan to take her back to see the Vet to see if there is anything else we can do for her. There have been many sleepless nights spent rubbing her tummy trying to make her comfortable!
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 10:54 am
    Thanks for stopping by my lens and sharing your comments. So sorry for your Ally! I am sure the double coat makes her uncomfortable. Benadryl is ok for many dogs but it just doesn't do the trick for others. I know what you mean about the sleepless nights.. LolaBelle would wake us repeatedly scratching and licking.. Calling or making an appointment with her vet would not hurt.
  • Ainezz Mar 25, 2014 @ 9:42 am
    Thanks for sharing. I had no idea dogs can suffer from allergies as well.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 10:57 am
    Thanks for dropping by and for the comments. I have learned so much through my journey as a dog owner. Dogs can actually have many disorders and diseases we people suffer from such as diabetes, anxiety, urinary tract infections just to name a few.
  • Merrci Mar 25, 2014 @ 9:21 am
    Congratulations on LotD! Great lens with so much good information! We had a couple of 'itchers' in the past that, alas, ended up in cones. The poor babies. Glad you know what to expect and how to handle it. Especially since dogs love to be outside so much. BTW, your dog is very cute.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:03 am
    Thank you for your lovely comments!! I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when I read the email saying I was awarded LotD!!! Still floating on air! We hated putting that cone on her but we had no other choice! Once we did the "hotspots" began to heal quickly! LolaBelle hated it though! They look so sad when they wear them don't they?
  • AbhishekLal Mar 25, 2014 @ 8:18 am
    Wow! Nice article. Thanks for sharing the post.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:09 am
    Thank you for stopping by and for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the article!
  • esmonaco Mar 25, 2014 @ 5:06 am
    Very nice and informative work here, good luck with the coming of spring, It sure looks like you have it under control. Congratulations on LOTD!! Well Deserved!!
  • Tracy1973 Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:09 am
    Thank you! Thank you! I am still on cloud 9 about getting LoTD!l Also many thanks for stopping by my lens and I am glad you found it so informative. I just want to help other dog owners out there in hopes their dogs don't have to go through what we did a few years ago. Management is always a moving target, but starting meds early does help.
  • OhMe Mar 19, 2014 @ 7:16 am
    Our dog had a very bad reaction to something when he was a puppy. He broke out in hives and I had never seen a dog do that. We never did figure out what it was and it never happened again.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 19, 2014 @ 1:03 pm
    Wow! That is awful! Poor little doggy! Glad it did happen again.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 19, 2014 @ 7:46 pm
    I am so sorry! I just noticed the typo in my reply to your comment. I meant to say I am glad it did not happen again. Duh...
  • Mickie_G Mar 18, 2014 @ 3:48 pm
    I used to have a Bassett Hound who suffered from at least two allergies. He had very sensitive skin and used to break out in red rashes until I found a wonderful dog shampoo at Whole Foods. I am not sure if the second is actually an allergy, but I learned that I should never spray Lysol in the air when he was in the room or even near by. His eyes would begin to water and turn an odd shade of green. Our vet told us that it was a serious reaction to the aerosol spray.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 18, 2014 @ 3:57 pm
    Yikes!! That is so scary!! I stopped using products like lysol when I realized it made my asthma worse. I have begun to purchase "green cleaning products" like Seventh Generation or products with no scents. I am sure fumes like that bother us they can be dangerous to pets also. Thank you for the comments!
  • Skipsmom Mar 18, 2014 @ 2:15 pm
    As you know, your little brother, Skipper, has allergies here in the Deep South! He is on "people" allergy meds & they really help! Very informative article, written professionally. I'd like to say also, that a vet you & your "child" like is very important. And as suggested, if you're not happy...change!
  • Tracy1973 Mar 18, 2014 @ 2:28 pm
    Thanks for the great comment and for reading, liking, and voting!! Glad Skipper's allergies are improving.
  • Ruthi Mar 18, 2014 @ 11:42 am
    My dog Tidbit suffers from similar Spring allergies. especially since moving to Florida. Benedryl, as per Vet instructions, does ease her issues, but also makes her sleep a lot more.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 18, 2014 @ 11:45 am
    Thanks for your comment!! Unfortunately most antihistamines have the same drowsy side effects for dogs as the do for us people. We began with Benadryl for LolaBelle but then had to use a prescription antihistamine Hydroxyzine. It also made her sleepy but it did decrease her allergy symptoms.
  • tobysartbazaar Mar 18, 2014 @ 11:20 am
    Planning to get a Beagle soon and they can have problems with dry skin. Interesting lens. I have a large playpen sat on chunky, waterproof gym mats (fit together like a jigsaw). I wonder if they would be good for a dog with allergies? ...easier to wipe away all that pollen etc than carpets or rugs.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 18, 2014 @ 11:23 am
    This is a great question. The mats you describe would definitely be easier to keep free from pollen, dust, and other "accidents" that occur with a new dog or puppy but I don't know if it would prevent the dry skin though. Good luck with your new doggy!!!
  • quiz_queen Mar 18, 2014 @ 11:19 am
    Not that I know of but I appreciate that you shared this information, I will watch a little closer now with the next seasonal change around her. Great article!
  • Tracy1973 Mar 18, 2014 @ 11:24 am
    Thank you for your comments!! I hope your baby doesn't have any allergic issues in the future!