Why is my dog scratching so much? Does my dog have seasonal allergies and what to do if they get sick

Dog food specialist Tails has issued advice to owners worried about their pet's allergies this season.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 11:45 am

As the colder temperatures creep in and the days get shorter, the change in season brings with it a host of allergies with uncomfortable symptoms.

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But it is not just humans who suffer- dogs also tussle with a whole range of allergy symptoms during the winter months, but they are quite different from the itchy eyes and inflamed skin seen in people.

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Tails has issued advice on how to protect your pet during the Autumn months. Photo: Frank Reid

Sean McCormack, heat vet at dog food specialist Tails, said:

“Autumn allergies in our pups can be quite annoying, especially as our dogs enjoy going outdoors.

Dog’s are often allergic to the weeds that pollinate during autumn, in particular, ragweed.

If you are unaware your pup has allergies, it may be difficult to recognise their symptoms.

As the season changes, look out for signs of itchy skin- which is normally present under their stomach and on their paws- as well as coughing, nasal discharge and itchy eyes.

Allergies often appear when allergens come into contact with their skin or due to pollens in their surrounding environment.”

Below is a list of symptoms dog owners may need to look out for over the coming months.

Dogs may scratch or lick themselves repeatedly, develop itchy, red swollen eyes, discharge from the nose, fits of sneezing.

In some cases, dogs can suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting or secondary infection may appear.

The amount of itching can range from mild to excessive, and is most common within the armpit, chest and paw areas.

Left untreated, the itching can lead to dogs scratching their skin until raw, increasing the risk of infection.

If the wound becomes infected, it will have an odour and discharge- contact a vet immediately.

A common reaction to allergies is excessive licking of the paws, this occurs because a dog’s body naturally pushes histamines to the paws, which are chemicals that the body releases into the bloodstream when the immune system is defending against an allergen.

Although less common, some dogs can experience respiratory issues when suffering from allergies, these can include coughing, wheezing, sneezing and difficulty breathing.

Other symptoms include:

Shedding and loss of hair - worsened by excessive itching and skin infections

Scooting or itchy anus - as the body pushes histamine through the extremities

Ear infections - displayed by head shaking, red and waxy ears and discomfort

But how can these allergies be prevented or minimised?

Change daily walking routine

Owners should avoid walking their dog early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as during this time pollen levels are at the highest.

If possible, pick a different time and steer clear of fields, long grass and areas with plants.

Keep the dog’s space clean

A weekly hot wash and hoover of their bed, blankets, soft toys and favourite places to relax will help to clear allergens.

For extra safety, consider covering chairs and bed with blankets so they can be easily removed for washing.

Clean the air and surfaces

Putting a dehumidifier in the house will help to remove moisture from the air, making it harder for mould to grow.

Vacuum and polish the floors and surfaces to remove the build-up of dust and pollen.

Remove excess allergens

Frequently bathe them with shampoo, or use dog-friendly hypoallergenic wipes to clean their paw pads and fur, and wipe gently around the face and eyes to remove any allergens picked up.

Add a supplement to their diet

Try adding a skin supplement or oil into their feeding routine, like Omega-3 or Omega-6.

Adding these will help to strengthen their skin’s barrier and reduce the symptoms of pollen allergies and will help to improve overall skin health.

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