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Allergy Season for Dogs

Allergy | January 30, 2018 | Author: Naturopath


Allergy Season for Dogs

Spring, summer and autumn are the most common allergy seasons for humans and dogs. That's right – when you've got itchy eyes and a runny nose, your canine companions could be suffering too. A recent study showed that up to 80% of dogs are likely to have allergy sensitivity to seasonal pollens and grasses [1], and are likely to show symptoms after 6 month of age.

How do you know if your dog is suffering from an allergy?

And how can you and your canine companion survive another allergy season together?

We've got your back.

Signs Your Dog May Have Seasonal Allergies

As far as the animal kingdom goes, domesticated dogs are quite good at communicating with us humans. These behaviours can show that your pooch is suffering from seasonal allergies:Signs Your Dog May Have Seasonal Allergies

  • Itching and scratching – particularly after being outside but can start up to an hour after exposure. This can include scratching with back legs, chewing or biting, rubbing their face to itch the eyes and snout, or rubbing their body against walls or furniture.
  • Obsessive licking, especially of paws and belly.
  • Shaking of the head can indicate allergies are affecting the ears.

Physical signs of season allergies for dogs include:

  • Red irritated skin on the belly, feet (especially between the toes), mouth and chin
  • Hair loss in any area
  • Redness on the inside of ears with a pungent smell
  • Red puffy eyes [2]

Other, less common signs of allergies include runny noses, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing. Some dogs can even suffer from asthma!

Dogs are susceptible to secondary infections in the skin and ears, especially if they have caused abrasions from scratching or biting themselves.

NOTE: These symptoms can indicate other issues and should be checked by a vet. Mites, fungal infections and even endocrine disorders may be responsible for any of these signs.

Seasonal or Environmental?

There are two primary types of allergies – seasonal and environmental. This goes for humans as well as dogs. If your pet is itching during the key allergy seasons (spring, summer and autumn) then chances are they are suffering from a seasonal allergy;Seasonal or Environmental?

if the symptoms continue year-round, it's possible they are reacting to something they regularly come in contact with in their environment, e.g. pet bedding or something in their diet.

Identifying the allergy as season-specific can be tricky in warmer climates where pollens and grasses may continue to proliferate throughout winter.

Food allergies also present with skin irritation, but are usually differentiated from seasonal allergies by the presence of larger lesions, and sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea and vomiting [4].

To make it more complicated, allergies can overlap – up to 30% of dogs with a seasonal allergy will also suffer from a food or environmental allergy [3]. If figuring out what your dog is allergic to seems overwhelming, there is help available. Many naturopathic and holistic vets offer functional testing for pets which can identify your pooch's specific allergies.

The most common seasonal allergens in dogs are:

  • Tree pollen
  • Grasses & grass pollen
  • Weeds & weed pollen
  • Moulds [5]

Deeper Understanding of Holistic Allergies

Here's a quick refresher on what allergies are and how they manifest:

The immune system normally does a great job of protecting dogs (and humans) against disease, but sometimes it can cause some damaging reactions instead. These are called “hypersensitivity reactions” and are classified into 4 different categories. The first category, Type I or “IgE-Mediated”, is associated with seasonal allergies. Being IgE-mediated means that when the immune system comes across molecules of allergens (e.g. from particular tree pollens), it responds by producing IgE receptors. These IgE receptors then stimulate the release of histamine from other immune cells in an effort to “destroy” the allergen. In the cross-fire, the excessive release of histamine causes the symptoms of a dog's seasonal allergy [6].

Holistic factors that can further promote excessive histamine include:

  • Food intolerances
  • Leaky gut
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria) 
  • Other allergies (e.g. flea allergy)
  • Compromised immune system [7]

Natural Remedies for Dogs with Allergies

Vets offer a range of medicated treatments to manage the symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs. If you're not ready to put your pooch on cortisone just yet, get through the next allergy season for dogs with these easy natural remedies:

Frequent Baths

Natural Remedies for Dogs with AllergiesWashing away allergens can give your pup immediate and long-term relief.

When pollens, grasses and moulds get stuck in a dog's fur, they continue to cause irritation long after the pooch is inside.

Using a soothing shampoo formulated for pets can further help to soothe your dog's symptoms – look for products with oat, aloe vera or chickweed included in the ingredients for nurturing herbal support.

Wash your dog's paws every time they enter the house from outside – this will stop them from bringing outside allergens into their home. Leave your own shoes at the door to do your part, too!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids help to strengthen the barrier of the skin and reduce its reactivity to seasonal allergens. Omega-3 fatty acids are key in reducing inflammation and can relieve itching, redness and heat from the skin. They can also strengthen the gut to support general immune function. Many companies that produce flaxseed or fish oils for humans also create pet-friendly blends.

NOTE: Omega-3 supplements may not be appropriate for dogs with compromised immune systems, open wounds, weight problems or medications [8]. Speak to a holistic vet about the best omega-3 source and dosage guidelines for your dog.


Just like in humans, histamine is responsible for the majority of allergy symptoms.

QuercetinQuercetin is an antioxidant that helps to relieve signs of seasonal allergies in dogs by stabilising immune cells and reducing their release of histamine [5].

Quercetin is naturally found in apples – be sure to slice the apple and do NOT feed the core to your dog as it contains toxic compounds. Speak to a holistic vet about quercetin supplements that are safe for your dog.

Click Here for article on Allergies in humans


The strength of the human immune system starts in the gut, and the same goes for dogs! Probiotics can help to restore the balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, reduce immune hypersensitivity, soothe inflammation and improve food tolerance. In a recent study, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strains were shown to reduce IgE reactivity in dogs [7]. Speak to your vet for the best formulation for your dog's breed, age and condition.
Clck Here for article on Probiotics

Check the Diet

Food intolerances and allergies can throw the whole immune system into a spin, contribute to dysbiosis and leaky gut, and promote seasonal allergies. The most common causes of food allergies in dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken and wheat [9]. Speak to your vet about switching to a low-allergy pet food that meets your dog's needs.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


[1] Mueller, R. S., et al. (2016) Allergens in veterinary medicine. Allergy., 71:1, 27 – 35.

[2] Hensel, P., et al. (2015) Canine atopic dermatitis: detailed guidelines for diagnosis and allergen identification. BMC Vet Res., 11, 196.

[3] Jensen-Jarolim, E., et al. (2015) Pollen Allergies in Humans and their Dogs, Cats and Horses: Differences and Similarities. Clin Transl Allergy., 5, 15.

[4] Mueller, R. S., et al. (2016) Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res., 12, 9.

[5] Kang, M., et al. (2014) Sensitization rates of causative allergens for dogs with atopic dermatitis: detection of canine allergen-specific IgE. J Vet Sci., 15:4, 545 – 550.

[5] Micek, J., et al. (2016) Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules., 21:5.

[6] Galli, S. J. & Tsai, M. (2012) IgE and mast cells in allergic disease. Nat Med., 18:5, 693 – 704.

[7] Toh, Z. G., et al. (2012) Probiotic Therapy as a Novel Approach for Allergic Disease. Front Pharmcol., 3, 171.

[8] Lenox, C. E. & Bauer, J. E. (2013) Potential Adverse Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dogs and Cats. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine., 27, 217 – 226.

[9] Mueller, R. A., et al. (2016) Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res., 12, 9.

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