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Pollen Allergy In Dogs – Symptoms & Treatment

Pollen Allergy In Dogs

Nibbling their paws like they are holding a carrot Peanut Butter pupcakes?

Ticky-tacky scratching from their collar it sounds like an old trailer is coming?

Incessant sneezing, Tearing Eyes, and itchy skin?

Seems like it might be allergy season for your dog.

Yes, dogs also suffer from allergies just as humans do.

Woof! Yelp! As your dog can’t exactly explain what’s wrong with them, it’s up to pet owners to scrutinize the signs.

Unlike humans, pets won’t cough or sneeze greatly when they have a pollen allergy. They bite, scratch, or lick themselves a lot. The pollen usually falls on their back, muzzle, fur, and the pads on their paws and is then absorbed into the skin.

Allergies are typically classified into four categories: Atopy, flea allergies, food allergies, and contact allergies. Atopy is a genetic predisposition of exaggerated or inappropriate IgE antibody production after exposure to allergens (environmental allergens) that are usually harmless.

Pollen allergies are considered atopic in nature and can be a year-round problem, but are more prevalent in the late winter and early spring (tree pollen) and grass pollen (January to early April).

Symptoms Of Pollen Allergy

  • Red, Itchy, moist or scabbed skin
  • Pruritus (Scratching, Itching, Rubbing, Licking)
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Reddened patches or lesions on skin
  • Scale formation on the skin, Patches of leathery skin
  • Chronic skin-picking (Excoriation or dermatillomania)
  • Sneezing/coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Treatment Options For Pollen Allergy

  1. Antihistamines: Chlortrimeton, Benadryl, Atarax, Clemastine, Claritin and Zyrtec.
  2. Pruritus: Pruritic skin disease via antipruritic drugs.
  3. Allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT): This is the only treatment available to change a pet's immune response to allergens and help recover the health of the immune system (vs. masking symptoms).
  4. Antibiotics and Antifungal Medications: These are used to treat secondary infections.
  5. Corticosteroids and Immunosuppressive Agents: Cortisone (dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone) and Cyclosporine (Atopica).

Home Remedies For Pollen Allergy

Avoiding ingestion or inhalation of pollens is often not practical, yet, strategies to combat pollens and environmental management may be attempted to prevent sources of allergens.

Supportive therapies can be done at home and can include topical medications, oral antihistamines, antibiotics, medicinal baths, and Topical lipid skin treatments.

Discuss with a veterinarian dermatologist for any home care specific to your dog’s situation.

Prevention Of Pollen Allergy

The best course of action is a trip to the vet. But there are some preventatives you can try:

  • Dogs with skin folds can be cleaned daily with a clean, damp cloth, hypoallergenic shampoo, wipes, ointment, lotion, spray, skin cleanser, etc.
  • A spray of oatmeal and aloe can be used to saturate your pet's fur.
  • Avoidance of the allergen will be the best prevention. Pollens and dust (use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter), Molds (place activated charcoal above the exposed dirt in your house plants or use a dehumidifier).
  • Fish oil caplets - the omega-3 fatty acids (to decrease inflammation) and allergy medication like Benadryl can be given to your dogs.
  • Regularly brush the dog to reduce shedding. Consistent grooming spreads the skin’s natural protective oils across the surface.

Affected Breeds Of Pollen Allergy

This is not an exhaustive list.

Bichon Frise, Boxer, Dalmatian, Cocker Spaniel, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Shar Pei, English Setter, Terrier Dog Breeds, Pug, Schnauzer

Additional Facts For Pollen Allergy

1. Causes:

Pollen allergic reaction takes place in two phases-

The early response (EAR):

  • This is also called a type I immediate hypersensitivity reaction.
  • This depends on IgE receptors binding through cell-surface expressed high-affinity receptors with tissue mast cells and circulating basophils.
  • These events cause amplified vascular permeability with oedema, vasodilation, and acute functional changes in affected organs (such as airway mucus secretion, bronchoconstriction, vomiting, diarrhea, and urticaria).
  • Reactions can be localized or systemic and pollen allergy is localized.

The late response (LAR):

  • Typically after allergen exposure, this phase develops after 2–6 h and peaks 6–9 h.
  • The clinically evident early-phase reaction precedes this phase and fully resolves in 1–2 days.
  • TH2 cells,lymphocytes, adhesive molecules, eosinophils, and neuropeptides are engaged

2. Types:

Acute vs chronic

Pollen allergies are always a chronic condition, however, when the symptoms of pollen allergy that last for a short duration, it is called acute pollen allergic reaction.

3. Morbidity:

Allergen is of two types

i) Type 1: Any environmental non-contagious irritant/ immune triggers that initially ‘sensitize’ the subject by inducing IgE production so that re-exposure later on to that allergen spurs an allergic reaction.

Tree and grass pollens, fecal particles, dust mites, animal dander (skin flakes), certain foods (especially milk, fish, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts), latex, insect venoms, and some medicines

ii) Type 2: This encompasses any environmental non-contagious allergen/irritant that can incite an adaptive, antigen-specific immune trigger coupled with localized inflammation.

This is not connected to IgE.

For instance, contact dermatitis (Eczema) to nickel or poison ivy

4. Mortality:

Death associated with pollen allergy is extremely rare

5. Diagnosis:

  • Skin prick tests
  • Allergen-specific IgE blood tests
  • Patch tests

6. Prognosis:

Allergies cannot be cured permanently but they can be managed successfully. The symptoms can be relieved by OTC and prescription medications. Reducing contact with allergy triggers or completely avoiding them can help prevent allergic reactions. The recent immunotherapy may help reduce the severity of allergic reactions.

When To See A Vet

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • Red, Itchy, moist, or scabbed skin
  • Pruritus (Scratching, Itching, Rubbing, Licking)
  • Itchy, runny eyes

Food Suggestions For Pollen Allergy

  • Low-carb dog food/peas, sweet potatoes, squash, yams, pumpkin, etc.
  • Fresh, lean protein (Lean ground beef, White-meat skinless chicken, or turkey).
  • Antioxidants- Blueberries, blackberries, Steamed broccoli, spinach, cooked yellow squash, kale, green beans.
  • Iron: lean meats like ground beef and lamb, fish, such as sardines and salmon, pumpkin, carrots and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids: Brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, kale, pineapple, papaya, and strawberries etc.


Dogs are also susceptible to pollen allergies. Some are more likely to do so, due to their heredity, duration of exposure to pollen, and environment.

Monitoring your dog’s response in pollen season, Awareness of the symptoms of dog pollen allergy, and taking measures to protect your dog from allergies is of paramount importance.

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