Work with your veterinarian to identify and treat seasonal allergies in your canine companions.

When allergy season approaches, don’t forget about Fido. While people deal with the usual sinus issues and watery eyes, our dogs suffer too, but in different ways. The large majority of skin issues in dogs are allergy related, and can be treated and prevented if you know what to look for.

Symptoms

The most common sign of a skin irritation is scratching. You may also notice your dog vigorously shaking his head. This is most likely due to allergies that lead to ear inflammation and possible infections. Other signs of allergens include:

  • Hair loss
  • Moist dermatitis, or hot spots — areas on the skin that become inflamed, reddened and infected
  • Dandruff, from constant itching in one area
  • Hair thinning, from your pet pulling it out

Triggers

Just like humans, a wide variety of items can trigger allergic reactions in pets — anything from seasonal plants in your yard, to ingredients in food or triggers in the air such as cigarette smoke. If you notice your dog is uncomfortable, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian because it may be time for allergy testing. With the help of your vet, you can start differentiating the type of allergy and narrowing down what might be causing it. You may need to change your pet’s diet, use different laundry detergents on their bedding or even alter your landscape choices.

Treatment

There are home remedies you can try to ease your dog’s discomfort: medical shampoos that have antifungal and antibacterial agents, oatmeal-based products and fish oil supplements that help with skin moisturizing, hydrocortisone and topical ointments, or over-the- counter antihistamines. These can help in mild situations, but again, contact your veterinarian to keep them aware of the new products you are trying.

Identifying what is bothering your dog can be the most frustrating part of the process for you and them, but once you identify what is causing the issue, you can stay ahead of it. Watch early, know it’s coming and take precautions before it gets too serious.

David W. Linzey, DVM, has practiced small animal and emergency medicine in North Carolina since 1994. He is active in the organized veterinary medicine community and is a former president of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association. He continues to support North Carolina veterinarians by planning and coordinating continuing education conferences, and works closely with the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine with ongoing training events.