5 Signs Your Pet Has Seasonal Allergies


For millions of people, springtime means allergies – itchy eyes, runny noses, and general discomfort. Our pets are just as susceptible to environmentally triggered allergies -they just can’t tell us how they feel.

Seasonal allergies are a massive problem in veterinary medicine, A wide range of allergens can trigger symptoms: Trees, grasses, and pollens are the big categories, and then environmental pollutants, too, It’s really difficult to keep environmental allergens separated from your pets.

 Because these allergies in pets are so common, there’s a good chance your dog or cat could be suffering. 


Most common signs that your pet suffer from allergies:



Scratching and Biting


One of the most common symptoms people bring in their pets for is itchiness. Allergies are most common in dogs, who often react by scratching or biting themselves to relieve the itching.  While the best thing to do if your dog is scratching or biting is take him to the vet, in some cases washing their paws and lower abdomen using water can offer temporary relief. Mainly if the allergy is related to trees, pollen, or grass, as that can help wash these triggers off of them.


Inflamed and Infected Skin


One of the more serious side effects of allergies in pets is a skin infection, which is usually related to chronic scratching. Unlike people, who get watery eyes and runny noses [with allergies], most pets develop red, itchy skin and secondary skin infections. And though it’s less common, these infections affect cats as well as dogs. When it does occur in cats, it’s can be very intense, because cats will tear themselves to shreds and get these little skin lesions all over them. 


Paw Licking


While cats often lick their paws as a normal part of their grooming regimen, compulsive paw licking is a common sign of allergies in dogs. Facial rubbing is a similar behavior that’s related to histamines, or chemicals in the immune system triggered by allergies. When dogs have allergies, they push out the histamines and they push them toward their extremities such as their ears, paws, anal region, or face.

Scooting or Licking the Anal Region


Another symptom related to histamine reactions is scooting or licking of the anal region (again, more prominent in dogs). This type of behavior can also indicate anal gland problems. If your pet is scooting around on his rear end, he’s probably feeling unpleasant itchiness. All of these histamine reactions are similar to sneezing or tearing up in humans. It can be tempting to give your pet antihistamine medications to relieve his symptoms but they tend to be less effective in dogs than in people, and you should always proceed with caution.  Most dogs can take antihistamines safely but is always a good idea to get advice from us before using it, particularly if your pet takes any other medications,


Itchy ears


Ear infections can be a common issue in pets, particularly dog breeds with floppy ears like hounds and cocker spaniels. Oftentimes, ear infections are related to allergies, especially [with] dogs that have ear infections over and over again. Head shaking and “red, waxy ears” are the main indicators. Ear infections can be uncomfortable and even painful for pets, 

How can it be treated?

Many patients will not be particularly itchy in between infection flare-ups so it is especially important that these be controlled. Treating flare-ups may be the only therapy needed but there will be other patients who require therapy throughout their allergy season


Clearing Secondary Infections

Before doing anything else, it is important to clear up secondary infections. Secondary infections involve bacteria (usually Staphylococcal) and/or yeast (Malassezia) at the site of the itchiest areas on the body. These organisms live naturally in the skin but when the skin is irritated, they gain access to inner tissue layers and proliferate. Sometimes they actually come to generate a further allergic response in the skin. These infections tend to recur and are the usual cause of recurrence of itch symptoms in a patient who was previously controlled.


Injectable or oral steroids such as cortisone or prednisone have many pros and cons in the treatment of allergies in pets. They are inexpensive and work quickly and effectively to reduce itching, and for short term use, they are relatively safe. However, steroids have numerous side effects, such as increased thirst, urination, hunger, and weight gain. 

Oclacitinib (Apoquel)

This is a relatively new medication best used for itch relief and blocking itch symptoms. It is popular as it works fast. It does not address the inflammation in the skin; it just stops the itch sensation. This means that infection still needs to be controlled. For more details visit: Apoqueldogs.com

Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic (Cytopoint®) Injections

This is a new treatment that uses vaccine technology to eliminate one of the main mediators of itch sensation. The injections provide relief from itching for 1 month in 80 percent of dogs and show effectiveness usually within 24 hours of the injection. For many dogs, the relief of itch stops the vicious cycle of itch/infection. Again, any infections still need treatment but the sensation of the itch is usually controlled. For more details, visit cytopoint4dogs.com.

Proper Coat Hygiene/Removing Allergens From The Environment If Possible

  • Bathing the pet weekly to remove allergens from the fur may be helpful in reducing allergen exposure plus tepid water is soothing to itchy skin. There are also many therapeutic moisturizing shampoos that can be used to restore the skin’s natural barrier or to assist in general itch relif. 
  • Avoid stuffed toys, wash bedding regularly. This minimizes dust mite exposure. Also, remove the pet from the area when vacuuming or dusting.
  • Use air-conditioning and/or an air filter system.
  • Keep the pet away from the lawn while it is being mowed.
  • Minimize houseplants.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements

These products are not analogous to adding dietary oil to the pet’s food, such as olive oil, coconut oil, corn oil, etc. Instead, these special fatty acids act as medications, disrupting the production of inflammatory chemicals within the skin. By using these supplements, it may be possible to postpone the need for steroids/cortisone or reduce the dose of steroids needed to control symptoms. It takes a good 6 weeks to build up enough omega 3 fatty acids in the body to see a difference.


Antihistamines have been popular for many years for pets, and it seems their effectiveness does not stand up to scrutiny. They provide neither short-term relief nor reliable long-term relief. They may be helpful in combination with other products in that their use may reduce the need for other products. They may work better in cats than in dogs.

Solid Flea Control

Allergies are additive. This means that when a patient has multiple allergies, each allergy alone may not be enough to cause itching but the allergies all active together probably will. Consequently, taking away one of the active allergies may be enough for allergy reduction to resolve the itching. Flea bite allergy is extremely common. We now have so many effective products available that there is no reason for an animal to contend with a flea bite allergy. This simple bit of therapy may be enough to bring the pet below her itch threshold without having to contend with any of the therapies listed above.

Itchy skin has been the scourge of dogs and cats for decades, if not centuries. We are now armed with a great understanding of immunology and have many tools to address allergy symptoms.