It’s that time of year when dogs start licking, scratching, and scooting. It’s allergy season!
Yes, dogs can have allergies, too! In fact, the canine allergy season often coincides with human allergy seasons. And it’s not just grass and tree pollens, dogs can be allergic to anything; wool, cats, mites, insects—you name it!
There are four main categories of allergy: atopy, flea, food, and contact. You can distinguish atopy, or environmental allergies, from other types of allergies because they are seasonal; allergy symptoms often come and go but symptoms with other forms of allergy are constant.
Dr. Brandy Vickers of Avenues Pet Hospital in San Francisco details some of the symptoms of dogs with atopy, or allergy to airborne pollens:
- Itchy skin without lesions
- Licking of feet or front legs
- Chewing or licking flanks (sides) and belly
- Face rubbing
- Red skin
- Recurring skin and/or ear infections
- Loss of fur
“Symptoms usually start between nine months and three years of age and are seasonal,” Dr. Vickers add. “As these pets get older, their itchy season becomes longer until they are itchy year-round.”
It’s important to note licking is not normal behavior for a dog.
“Dogs lick to clean themselves only in the sense that if something is on their paw, they lick to get it off,” behavioral therapist and trainer Beverly Ulbrich says. “They will also lick if they are aggravated or itchy from allergies, and they lick as a nervous habit.”