Dogs can potentially be allergic to many of the same things that cause allergies in humans. During the warmer months, pollens from grass, weeds and trees are the most common allergens that can trigger a response in your dog’s immune system. These environmental allergies are lifelong conditions that are managed rather than cured.
Some breeds are more prone to these allergies than others. Typical signs include ear infections (commonly first seen as red, itchy and smelly ears), skin irritations or itching, skin rashes, paw licking, and redness or sores on paws.
The best first step when you notice any of these signs in your dog is to visit your vet. In addition to a physical examination, your vet may perform a series of diagnostic tests to rule out other potential causes, including parasites, infection and food allergies. Once your vet is sure it’s an environmental allergy, they may recommend a number of treatments, depending on how severe your dog’s allergies are.
Avoiding the offending allergens is the most effective approach, but not always the most practical option. Dogs with environmental allergies often require medication, as well as medicated or soothing shampoos to manage the itch and reduce discomfort.
Supporting and strengthening your dog’s skin with good nutrition is often a fundamental part of the management plan. It has been shown help to decrease the passage of allergens through the skin, as well as enhance the skin’s healing ability. A diet containing high quality protein, fatty acids, as well as certain vitamins and minerals also does a lot to promote a healthy skin and coat in your dog.