Allergic to walks!? 3 environmental triggers that could be giving your pup grief

Daily walks are the best time for many pups. They get out of the house, stretch those legs, and feel the cool breeze running through their fur. What a time to be alive! That is until the sneezing, itching, and heat spots kick in. It’s almost as if they’re allergic to walks.

Like us, environmental allergens can trigger dogs. Only, unlike us, they can’t pop a Piriton and hope for the best. Imagine suffering from hay fever and having to spend an hour outside during peak pollen count. Grim, right? Well, you might be exposing your pup to the very same torture without even realising it. 

We can be quick to assume reactions in our pup are down to their food. But there are a whole host of environmental triggers that could also be giving your doggo grief. But we don’t want to keep you here for 82 days, so today we’re going to cover three likely culprits you’ll find while out and about. A more extensive guide breaking down 200 of the most common food and environmental allergens comes with your pup’s sensitivity test results if you want to learn more.


Let’s kick things off with one of the most common and pesky environmental triggers out there: pollen. All hay fever sufferers will feel their pooch’s pain with this one.

Found inside plenty of flowers, grasses, plants, trees, and weeds, dogs can come into contact with pollen in many ways. They might shove their face into a flower bed and face the consequences. Or roll around in a patch of grass that doesn’t agree with them. It might even stick to them as they mind their own business – clinging to their paws, coat, or nose. As if this wasn’t enough, pollen also has a tendency to float around in the air. 

Basically, if your dog likes to have a good ol’ sniff around, chances are they’ll come into contact with pollen at some point or another. Thanks to its unmatched ability to spread and cross-pollinate, trying to avoid pollen altogether is an impossible task.  

So how do you tackle such a problem? 

When it comes to the flowers, plants, and trees themselves, keeping your dog from rubbing up against them is your best bet. Pollen caught in the wind is where it gets a little more tricky.

Short of never taking your pooch for a walk, you can’t guarantee they won’t come into contact with pollen while out and about. But you can minimise this…

Allergic to walks 2

Tips for avoiding pollen

Thankfully, a lot of advice you could give a person applies to your pup too. It’s all about being sensible. Here’s our advice for being a bit of a pollen ninja:

  • Monitor pollen counts – You want to avoid walks when these are high. Early in the morning or once the sun goes down are great times for this. Rain is also brilliant for clearing the air.
  • Exercise more caution during peak seasons – Unfortunately, peak seasons make up a large proportion of the year. Tree pollen wreaks havoc between March and mid-May, while grass season will take us from mid-May to July. Weed pollen will stick around between June and September. Meanwhile, individual plants and flowers will go by their specific flowering schedule.
  • Post-walk habits – After walks, you want to avoid bringing any pollen into your home. This means taking shoes off at the door and using a fresh towel to clean your pooch. While you’re at it, give yourself a wash too;. If they make a break for the sofa before you can wipe them down, you’re going to want to clean anything they touch. As well as cleaning their beds, blankets, carpets, or your bed more often.
  • Stay on top of grooming – Pollen loves to stick around. Even when you think you’ve got it all. Regular grooming ensures you remove any leftovers.
  • Keep your pup on the lead – We know your pooch might resent you for this one. But preventing them from rolling in a flower bed or butt-scooting in the grass could help them avoid irritated skin.
  • Keep windows closed – Especially during peak times and seasons. This one isn’t related to walks. But it’ll be frustrating to have followed all the above advice only to invite pollen into your home.


Bark is an interesting trigger as all types of tree are different. While one might be fine, another could leave your pup itching for days. But if you suspect (or know) that bark is a trigger for your pooch, you’re probably best avoiding it entirely. Who has time to identify every tree you meet on a walk? Sticking to roads, parks, fields, and avoiding woodland areas will be ideal. Even better if you can walk on beaches or concrete areas.

But avoiding trees altogether isn’t an option for all of us. If this is the case for you, be careful your dog isn’t making close acquaintances with trees, rubbing up against them after doing their business. If you’re in a woodland area, it’s also worth keeping an eye on the ground. Bark might fall off trees and cause irritation if your dog walks over it. 

While keeping your pup from touching trees or not throwing sticks is easy enough to manage, bark is also found in mulch. So this might be a trickier job if you’re a keen gardener, for example. Wood chippings in gardens, local parks, or play areas will also need some extra caution.


We’re going to throw a bit of a wildcard in now. Because we’ll definitely have some pond-divers amongst our ranks.

Initially, algae sounds easy enough to avoid. But it’s found in a lot of bodies of water. So if you’ve got a pup who loves swimming in ponds and lakes, drinking their water, or licks themselves off after a dip, it’ll be easy enough for algae to work its way onto their skin or into their system.

Stopping them from coming into contact isn’t too hard, thankfully. Well, assuming they’re not a wild child who runs off into a pond at the first opportunity. There are some rules you’ll have to put in place.

  1. No drinking from stagnant water.
  2. No cannon-balling into every body of water without you checking it first.
  3. Watch out for rocks and sticks that might have algae growing on it.

If they absolutely can’t resist going for a swim, find somewhere with gently flowing, clean water.

And there you have it. Three reasons your pup might not be feeling too great. The world of dog reactions can be complex. Especially when you’re looking at both food and environmental triggers. But educating yourself really is the answer. The more you know, the more caution you can take and keep those goofballs happy and healthy.

Struggling to find your feet with your pup’s reactions? Don’t worry about it! Our fur tests are quick, pain-free, and could get you answers in as little as 72 hours. Get yours now.

With your results, you’ll also receive our in-depth reactions guide covering all the triggers we test for and how to avoid them. Plus, we’ll let you know which Swagwags recipes are suitable for your pup. Why not start browsing our ranges today?