Inhalant allergies are the kind we humans are most used to. Just like us, our pets get hay fever, meaning they can be allergic to the pollen and mold that fills the outside air during the spring and fall. Inhalant or atopic allergy is the second most common allergy in dogs and the third most common in cats. Breathing in or directly contacting airborne particles in the environment, such as mold spores, dust, tobacco smoke, and pollens, will activate atopic allergies.

If a pet is allergic to pollens, it will show symptoms even if you keep it indoors, says James Jeffers, V.M.D., a board-certified veterinary dermatologist at the Animal Allergy and Dermatology Clinic in Gaithersburg, Md. Outside airborne substances waft their way into the house, and air filters don’t tend to bring relief to pets with these types of allergies, he says.

Although dogs with atopic allergies sometimes have respiratory problems, such as coughing and sneezing, they more typically develop itchy skin. The allergens usually produce severe itching in dogs, which is usually concentrated in the ears, feet, groin, and armpits, though it can be spread across the entire body. Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop atopic allergies, including terriers, Dalmatians, and golden and Labrador retrievers.

Dogs that develop atopic allergies usually show symptoms between 1 and 5 years of age. Symptoms of inhalant allergies include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Scratching
  • Chewing at feet
  • Constant licking

To relieve the itch, dogs may scratch and bite at themselves and rub their face with their paws or against the floor and furniture. Dogs in particular may develop hairless, irritated “hot spots” from constantly chewing on and scratching the affected skin, which is then followed by infection.

We can control inhalant allergies in dogs by taking the following preventive measures :

House dust/dust mites

  • Vacuum regularly and keep your pet out of the room when vacuuming
  • Put a plastic cover on pet’s bed
  • Wash bedding in very hot water
  • Avoid stuffed toys or pet pillows
  • Don’t let dog on furniture or carpet
  • Run air conditioners when it’s hot


  • Keep dog inside when mowing grass
  • Rinse dog after walking in high grass
  • Avoid walking dog on grass
  • Keep dog indoors when pollen count is high
  • Use air conditioners and air filters


  • Keep dog out of basement
  • Keep dog food fresh
  • Clean/disinfect humidifiers and air filters
  • Avoid large numbers of houseplants
  • Change furnace/air-conditioning filters frequently

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