Itchy Dog? It Could Be Seasonal Allergies

Itchy Dog? It Could Be Seasonal Allergies

Every dog gets a little itchy behind the ear every once in a while, but if you notice your fur friend is scratching, biting or licking themselves more than normal, it could be allergies. Just like humans, the change in the weather and the increase in pollen counts can spark allergies for dogs, and this often manifests in itchy skin and sudden rashes. Luckily, these issues are very common, and there are plenty of things you can do to help your dog be more comfortable.

Signs of Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

While you may experience post-nasal drip, some congestion and plenty of sneezing when the flowers bloom and the ragweed spreads, seasonal allergies work a little differently for canines. Some common signs of seasonal allergies in dogs include:

  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Excessive scratching
  • Biting at their fur or chewing on a specific spot
  • Excessive licking, especially of the paws
  • Hair loss or thinning in a certain area such as paws, hindquarters, chest and in the armpit area
  • Hot spots, which may show signs of infection in more severe cases

Keep in mind that dogs are generally very stoic when it comes to pain and discomfort. This means if your dog is itching or licking enough for you to notice the change in behavior or skin appearance, it's likely that he is experiencing significant irritation. These signs may also seem to come and go if your dog is outside (or in the house) more for a few days or if whatever is causing the reaction blooms.

Things You Can Do to Help

Any time you think your dog may be suffering from a skin allergy, it's always a good idea to cover your bases with a vet visit. While there are plenty of over-the-counter things you can do to help your dog, itching and skin rashes can also be indicative of a larger issues, such as ringworm or a food allergy, so it's important to make your vet aware of the issues your dog is experiencing so they can rule out anything more serious and give you advice on at-home treatments.

Once you and your vet have determined that seasonal allergies are to blame, some possible treatments include:

  • More frequent bathing: While this may seem counter-intuitive, washing your dog more often keeps the allergen from staying on the skin, and there are skin-calming shampoos that can make a big difference if your dog is experiencing red, itchy skin.
  • Hot spot treatments: These are usually liquids that come in a spray or sponge-topped bottle, and they have bittering ingredients that keep your dog from wanting to lick those spots. Make sure to look for a treatment that doesn't include alcohol and says it's safe for open wounds to ensure it doesn't burn your pup.
  • Fun T-shirts: If your dog is experiencing issues on the belly or the armpit region -- especially common on more wrinkly breeds because the skin folds hold onto moisture -- a doggie T-shirt keeps these areas out of reach. Bonus points for those with cute sayings that show off your dog's personality.
  • Supplements: Multivitamins designed to enhance your dog's skin and coat can help heal from the inside out and supports your dog's overall health. Omega chews are especially helpful for pets with skin issues.

Next Steps

If over-the-counter treatments aren't making a difference or you feel like your dog's symptoms are worsening, a trip back to the vet is the best bet. Your vet may be able to recommend a prescription treatment like Cytopoint, Apoquel or hydroxyzine or refer you to a veterinary dermatologist who can do more testing to determine if the underlying issues might be something like a food allergy.

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