Summer Allergies in Dogs — What are they?
Summer allergies in dogs are symptoms of an immune system hypersensitivity. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine,” the immune system protects the body from potentially harmful substances by recognizing and responding to antigens.”
Antigens are usually protein based — toxins, foreign particles, drugs, chemicals or abnormal cells within the body. A healthy immune system will attack anything it considers abnormal or harmful to the body, with summer allergies in dogs a prime example for hot spots, itching, sneezing and runny eyes.
Credit: istockphoto/© Dennis Cox
“To protect your dog from outside allergens, put some sort of clothing on them to wear when going outside during the summer!”
Types of immunity
- Innate immunity — the innate immune system is considered a nonspecific immune system an animal or person — one they are born with. This is the body’s first line of defense to keep destructive or harmful materials from entering the body (coughing, skins oils, enzymes in tears, mucus to trap small particles and bacteria, skin, and stomach acids. The innate immune system also comes in a protein chemical form called innate humoral immunity, which causes fevers to burn off invading antigens. Once the bad guys get past these barriers, other parts of the immune system set out to destroy them … if the immune system is strong and healthy enough to do the job.
- Acquired immunity — the acquired immunity develops after birth with exposure to the many different types of antigens that attack the body. A strong immune system will build a defense to each antigen that enters the body.
- Passive immunity — the passive immunities are antibodies in the body that are produced in another body. One example is newborn infants, who have antibodies from the mother’s placenta. These will disappear within six to 12 months of age after birth. Another example is the antiserum injection. It provides short-term instant protection against a specific antigen, an antibody shot that is formed by another person or animal.
- White blood cells — the blood components of white blood cells are part of the immune system, including antibodies, interferon and complement proteins. Lymphocytes include B and T types, which can tell the difference in the good and bad cells. They have two purposes: working with other chemicals and proteins to help the immune system work and to attack the body’s foreign particles.
Summer allergies in dogs and people develop when the body’s immune system cannot respond adequately to foreign invaders or germs that are attacking the body. The immune response is lacking in some manner, working to excess or is inappropriate to do the job.
When the body is attacked by a germ or antigen, the first line of defense should be a healthy and productive immune system with specialized organs and cells. It works through the lymphatic system, considered the circulatory system of the immune system. If this does not work, many disorders will develop:
- Allergies in dogs — allergens are inhaled, ingested, or contacted through the skin. Symptoms include sneezing, vomiting, itching, diarrhea, snoring with an inflamed throat, swollen paws, or continuous licking.
- Asthma — an inflammation of the airways caused by allergic reactions. Symptoms include shortness of breath, excess mucous, spasms, coughing and wheezing.
- Immune Deficiency Diseases — an immune disorder that refers to “immunity against self.” This is where the immune system attacks its own body, or self.
- Autoimmune Disorder – the autoimmune disorder is when the immune system over-reacts to the body’s allergens.
Summer allergies in dogs
Allergies in dogs begin around May to July, focusing on grass pollen. If the dog develops allergies late in the summer, it will not be grass pollen but weed pollen affecting them.
Symptoms vary from breed to breed, dog to dog …present around the dog’s ears and skin. Chronic ear problems develop during the early summer.
If it gets bad enough, dog owners take their pet to the vet and have blood work or skin scrapings before treating them with antihistamines.
Ways to control dog allergens in the home
- Keep air ducts, attics and carpets cleaned
- Change air filters in the air conditioning system or heating systems
- Use electrostatic allergy-free air filters (HEPA)
- Vacuum and shampoo the household carpets regularly
- Clean windows, pillows and furniture weekly to remove allergens
- Reduce the dog’s exposure to grasses, trees, mosquitoes and outside airborne pollens
- Place a clean T-shirt on the dog when they go outside to minimize the exposure
- Wash the dog’s bedding frequently in their sleeping environment
- Bathe the dog frequently with a hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner
- Reduce the amount of cigarette smoke to reduce the severity of allergies
Summer allergies in dogs can be reduced to almost nothing by maintaining the dog’s immune system, reducing their exposure to parasites, feeding them non-allergenic foods and keeping their environment clean.
Allergies can be easily handled, but toxic chemicals compound the issue and make the dog much sicker. The first warning signs that the dog’s immune system is down or their environment is filled with allergens can be discovered during the periods of summer allergies in dogs. But if the immune system is healthy, allergies are nothing to worry about except as a warning signal.