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As summer draws to a close, and autumn begins, we all get excited about the promise of cooler weather and more comfortable time spent outdoors. Late summer and fall allergies can weigh down the experience for you, though. But are dogs allergic to ragweed and other common allergens? Yes, they can be.
Just like with humans, some pets suffer from seasonal allergies. ‘Tis the season for many outdoor allergens ranging from pollens to molds, but ragweed pollen is one of the most well-known. Typically, it begins to affect dogs allergic to ragweed in August and continues to do so until autumn’s first frost. So we’re in the midst of it with several weeks left to go.
If your pampered pup has been out of dermatological sorts recently, seasonal allergies might be to blame.
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) is native to the United States. In fact, it thrives in every state except Alaska. It’s rather nondescript and doesn’t have brightly-colored flowers, so identifying it isn’t the easiest at first. It’s an annual that is often confused with goldenrod, which is not a major itch or sneeze inducing plant. Ragweed can grow to 1-3 feet tall and has shallow roots that make it easy to pull up the entire plant—the best eradication method if you have some growing on your property. It thrives in soft or disturbed soil, so it’s common along roadsides, and the pollen is so small and light that it travels through the air easily.
There are a number of handy resources on the internet that you can use to get a pollen forecast for a given day. Pollen.com has a good one.
At their core, allergies are immune system over-reactions. Often, they are genetic. Unlike humans, dogs and cats primarily experience allergy symptoms in the form of skin problems, though we do still see runny eyes and sneezy noses in them, too. Let’s look at a list of symptoms:
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to work with your vet to manage them. Prolonged infections and inflammation are unhealthy—even potentially dangerous—as well as uncomfortable or painful.
Managing ragweed-induced symptoms is something your vet can help you with following a proper diagnosis. Species-appropriate antihistamines and anti-inflammatories are commonly prescribed to dogs. Do not medicate your dog at home without seeing a vet first. Many of the medicines we have at home for humans are not safe for dogs, and when they are, dosages can be quite different. Often, ear or skin infections are present, so antibiotics might be needed. Ear infections can be especially painful, so medications to promptly resolve them are important.
Special dog shampoos can help to calm inflamed skin and also wash off pollen that might be in your dog’s coat after a romp in the park. It can also be helpful to wash your dog’s bedding more often during allergy season to remove pollen that your pup tracks onto it.