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18th May 2020

Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

When dogs develop itching during allergy season...

by Laura Crotch-Harvey MSc BSc (Hons)

It is that time of year again when we see an increase in worried owners contacting us about their dogs who have developed itchy skin.

When dogs react to pollen, it is quite different to hay fever in humans. We rarely see sneezing dogs with watering, itchy eyes. Instead, dogs tend to get itchy skin, particularly under their stomach and their paws. This may be due to a contact allergy, when something brushes against their skin or due to pollens in the environment.

How can seasonal allergies be prevented?

It is often difficult to avoid seasonal allergies completely. Working to manage the condition and reduce the discomfort to your dog is often the goal. If you are unsure what is causing your dog to itch, it can be trial and error and you will need to work alongside your vet. Here are a few tips.

  • check cleaning products and washing powder
  • wipe your dog down with a baby wipe after their walk to try to remove pollen from fur/skin
  • vets may prescribe shampoos/creams to help soothe skin and restore the skin barrier
  • vets can also discuss fleas and flea treatments with you
  • put cool water on their skin to help to soothe it
  • get suits or boots for your dog to wear while on a walk to help stop things encountering their skin
  • check the plants in your garden. Often plant pollens are unavoidable for dogs but if there is a plant in your garden you think they may react to it may be worth ruling this out
  • check your dog’s diet as this can affect good skin health in several ways

How can diet help with seasonal allergies?

With seasonal allergies it can be difficult to find the exact cause and often many factors can be involved. A high-quality diet can play a role, however.

If you are unsure what your dog is reacting to it would be good to do an elimination trial to rule our diet as a possible cause for the itching.

Even if your dog does not have a food allergy or intolerance, when fed a high-quality diet we can work to get their skin barrier in better condition. Omega fatty acids are important for the skin. Salmon oil is a great in ingredient for this, so look for diets with fish or those containing salmon oil.

Overfeeding or feeding a poor-quality diet can cause itchy skin or aggravate pre-existing conditions as it can cause your dog to be in a state of inflammation. The amount of food a dog needs may vary throughout the seasons of the year. For example, if your dog spends a lot of time outside in the winter maybe swimming in colder water, they burn a lot more calories than in summer months. So during the summer you may need to cut their food back.

If you need any further advice into your dog’s diet, especially if they have itchy skin please do not hesitate to contact out nutrition team on Live Chat.

by Laura Crotch-Harvey MSc BSc (Hons)

I've worked at Burns since 2015 and head up a busy, dedicated team of pet nutritionists at our Kidwelly head office. No two days are ever the same. We are often busy going the extra mile for our customers and offer free advice via LiveChat, telephone and email.