Just like people, dogs suffer from allergies. There are many reasons a dog might have allergies. Some are environmental and include things like chemicals or food.
Even though any dog can develop allergies, there are some breeds where allergies are more common. These include Pugs, Shar-Peis, Boston Terriers, English and American Bulldogs. Other breeds also prone to allergic reactions are Labs, Golden Retrievers, Bichon Frises, Pit Bulls, and German Shepherds.
Are Dog Allergies Common?
Dog allergies are common. Not sure what dog allergies look like? Here are some symptoms of allergies in dogs:
- Runny or itchy eyes
- Itchy back or tail
- Bloodshot eyes
- Coughing, wheezing, asthma-like symptoms
- Hair loss
- Frequent sneezing
- Yeast infections on the skin
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, write down when they appeared. Also, note any possible triggers. New food? Playing in the forest? Licked a chemical?
Skin Allergies AKA Allergic Dermatitis
In general, there are three reasons a dog might have skin allergies. First, flea allergies. Second, food allergies. Lastly, environmental allergies.
According to the AKC, “Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction to fleabites. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva. This makes affected dogs extremely itchy, especially at the base of the tail, and their skin may become red, inflamed, and scabbed. You may also notice signs of fleas, such as flea dirt, or even see the fleas themselves.”
Food allergies may cause itchy skin. This generally manifests on the ears and paws. It may also cause intestinal issues, but we’ll cover more about that in the next section.
Lastly, environmental issues include allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, and more. Like for humans, these are generally seasonal allergies. The areas affected range from the paws and ears to the groin and toes. What needs to be considered are secondary infections. When a dog scratches themselves, they are opening themselves up to infection. It could be bacterial or yeast in nature, but it will require medical attention.
True allergens will trigger a response in your dog. We’re talking hives, swelling, and itchiness. It may also appear as a gastrointestinal change like vomiting and diarrhea. In very rare cases, anaphylaxis can happen.
If your dog suffers from food allergies, your vet may have them put on a hypoallergenic diet. This might be a special medical food or a change to an elimination diet that pinpoints the exact allergen. Here are some common food allergies:
- Raw Eggs
- Raw Meat
- Salty Foods
- Yeast Dough
Acute reactions might result from insect stings, vaccine reactions, and other things that cause an anaphylactic response. Again, this is a rare reaction, but you should always monitor your dog closely when a new vaccine, drug or food is given. Any facial swelling should be treated by your vet with antihistamines.
How to Diagnose Allergies in Dogs
Your vet, upon consultation with you, may blood test your pup for certain allergy triggers. However, it’s not always possible. Food allergies are often discovered with an elimination diet. These are a series of food trials that allow the dog to eat one carbohydrate and one protein source for a specified period to find out what they are allergic to.
Common Dog Allergy Treatments
The first rule of allergy treatments is to avoid the trigger. That’s easier said than done, especially if your dog as an allergen like dust. It’s unavoidable. Vets may prescribe medications to keep dogs from having bad allergic reactions. Remember, if your dog has a severe allergic reaction, be sure to get them to an emergency vet clinic as soon as you can.