Fall Allergies – and Planning Ahead 


My dog Otto (now resting in peace) used to get a flare-up of allergies every spring. His body knew before any human in our area was aware when the first plants in our area started flowering and producing pollen. It would start with mild scratching – a distracted, half-aware scratching of his tummy with a hind paw as he stood and gazed off in the middle distance. But within a week of the first appearance of that behavior, I’d catch him chewing at his flank in earnest, and I would start taking the steps I’d take every year to reduce his exposure to the pollen that started blowing around and covering our cars, lawn, and decks: limiting his time outside, rinsing his feet and ankles with a hose and wiping his coat with a damp microfiber cloth when he came in from his daily constitutional around our property, putting a clean sheet over his dog bed every day, and increasing my vacuuming and mopping the floors in the house.   

I’d also put a note on my wall calendar, indicating when I first noticed him scratching. I stored the old calendars on a shelf for years after each year passed – so I was able to prove that it was always in early March when I first saw Otto starting to react to higher pollen counts. (By the way, a hard-copy calendar that’s dedicated to just your dogs is a GREAT way to keep track of any symptoms your dog may experience throughout the year – and WDJ’s 2024 calendar is dedicated to the memory of Otto. I’m just sayin’. The calendars are available for purchase here.)   

However, spring is not the only season that triggers environmental allergies in dogs. Some dogs are unaffected by tree or grass pollen, but suffer mightily from mold or fungal spores, and it’s these that I suspect my sister’s mostly white wire-coated Jack Russell-mix is affected by each fall. Daisy just started rubbing her itchy body raw, and my sister just asked me if I would make a veterinary appointment for her. (A prescription for Apoquel has been a life-saver for the pink-skinned little dog each fall for the past few years.) The temperatures have been sinking, there is more moisture in the air, and mushrooms and other fungi have started sprouting in the woods – and likely in the shady, irrigated parts of my sister’s yard, too.  

But, judging from the only available appointments I could get at any of the three veterinary hospitals I have relationships with, my sister’s dog is not the only one who suffers from fall allergies; not one of the three has an available, non-emergency appointment within the next month! 

Here’s another use for those calendars: If you know your dog has had the same health problem at the same time of year more than once, make yourself a note on your next year’s calendar about a month prior to the anniversary of your dog’s last episode, reminding you to make a veterinary appointment close to the time you might expect another episode. If my sister had a vet appointment scheduled for early September each year, she could avoid having to watch Daisy itch and scratch and rub for a month while waiting for her after-the-fact appointment and administering the usual not-very effective Band-Aids: lots of baths and wipe-downs, Benadryl, topical treatments, and perhaps a cone or cone alternative.  


  1. Just today I had to take one of my dogs to the eye doctor because she had runny eyes (first time). I made the appointment on Monday morning….and by Wednesday the day of the appointment both eyes were runny and she was using her paw to try and itch her eyes. The doctor says yes he believed it was a Fall allergy…..her eyes looked healthy…..and it should clear up by Thanksgiving. He did prescribe antibiotics because the discharge looked cloudy and eye drops. My job is to keep her face clean and stop her from rubbing her face on a tree trunk.

  2. My late Ramses had an ear hematoma because of shaking his head. I kept cleaning his ears per one vet’s recommendation. And older, experienced vet who did the ear repair said nope, food allergy. He was on chicken kibble and the vet said dogs in the US develop allergies to chicken (in Australia allergies to lamb) because it is a common and cheap protein. Ramses ate every roast in my freezer for three weeks and the itching stopped. Bingo. He went on beef , fish and lamb on rotation after that and I was very diligent in making sure no treats or anything else had chicken in it.

    Diana pawPrints has seasonal allergies. I used an app called Accuweather to track allergens and she is allergic to tree pollen, not grass or mold. I keep an eye on the app and it will tell me when the tree pollen is starting to increase before she starts to itch. That’s when I start her Benedryl and medicated baths. She went through this past season with flying colors. I start checking around April and May and she’s over it by August and September, but with climate change those months may change. That is why I use the app.

    The vet said she could go on Apoquil but since she is being maintained on Benedryl and it is cheaper we are sticking to that. I did try her on Zyrtec as that is what my Dr had moved me to to make it easier if we took the same meds but the Zyrtec doesn’t work for her so she is back on Benedryl next allergy season.

    During allergy season she gets baths with Chlorhexidine shampoo. From once a month to once a week depending on the pollen count.