Everything You Need to Know About Dog Allergies

May 24, 2020

Dogs are loyal and affectionate pets, making them familiar in most households. But did you know that just like humans, our canine friends can have allergies too? Dogs possessing allergies are real, but it's not as simple. Here are some details to assist you and your dogs in detecting and treating dog allergies.

Types of Dog Allergies

Allergies are the body's immune system reaction to foreign substances. Dogs can suffer from various types of allergies, which can be depicted in varying ways.

Food Allergies

Apart from the food that should be avoided by dogs due to their toxic elements, dogs can have allergies to a particular food. However, be wary that some dogs have food intolerances or sensitivities and not allergies. These two things are different and may sometimes be difficult to distinguish.

Food allergies are less common as compared to intolerances. The typical sign that your dog has a food allergy is an anaphylactic shock. It can be compared to what happens when humans with allergies are stung by bees or when ingesting peanuts. When a dog comes into contact with food they have allergies to, their airway closes, resulting in difficulty in breathing. This immediate reaction is sometimes life-threatening due to hypotension and shock.

Less aggressive allergic reactions include skin conditions such as itchiness, swelling, and hives. Dogs can also have diarrhea or experience vomiting.

Skin Allergies

This is the most common allergies in dogs and also called allergic dermatitis. Secondary infection is common as dogs can open their skin to infections as they scratch, bite, and lick their skin. The three causes of skin allergies are the following.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

This is an allergic reaction to flea bites or the saliva of fleas which causes severe itchiness for dogs, especially at the base of the tail. Some of its effects include red, inflamed and scabbed skins

Food Allergy

It causes itchiness of the dog's skin. Ears and paws are the common areas where dogs itch when showing signs of food allergies. Gastrointestinal symptoms may also accompany this type of allergy.

Environmental Allergens

This causes atopic dermatitis or canine atopy. Allergens can be pollen, dust mites or molds. This allergy may be seasonal; thus you may notice your dogs scratching more during particular seasons. To diagnose the cause, try to observe the timing of the reaction. If it is seasonal, your dog may be allergic to pollen, but if it happens all year round, then it can be molds and dust. Commonly affected areas are the ears and paws, but may also affect the dog's muzzle, underarm, groin, the area around the eyes, and in between their toes.

Staphylococcus Hypersensitivity

This happens when a dog's immune system exaggerates to the natural Staph bacteria on its skin. It is observed to occur more apparent when a dog has other conditions such as hypothyroidism, environment allergy, and flea allergy. This allergy can only be diagnosed through the examination of a biopsy sample and bacterial culture.

Diagnosing Dog Allergies

The first step is observing your dog for the following general symptoms:

  • itching

  • hives

  • inflamed and red skin or patches of skin

  • hair loss in some parts

  • swelling in particular parts of the dog, commonly on the face, lips, ears or eyelids

  • sneezing

  • ear infections

  • runny eyes

  • incessant licking

When you notice abnormal occurrences of the above symptoms, it is best to note it down and contact a veterinarian. All information you can provide is essential to the vet to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms in your dog. You may have to proceed to have some allergy testing to determine the cause of the allergy accurately. However, there are instances that some trials may not always result in accurate identification of the allergy.

Food trials are performed to identify food allergies as available saliva and blood screening has been found to be ineffective in identifying food allergies in dogs. In this process, the dog's current food is removed and then proceeding to a strict elimination diet trial. Food trials are generally completed in 12 weeks.

Flea allergy dermatitis is usually diagnosed using intradermal allergy tests or specialized blood tests called IgE blood tests. However, clinical signs are sometimes more than enough to diagnose flea allergy. Thus, the analysis mentioned earlier may not be necessary.

Treatment of Dog Allergy

The primary solution is to keep your dogs away from the allergens causing their condition. Of course, this may not always be possible, but the treatment varies depending on the state of the dog. The following are ways to treat dog allergies.

Lifestyle change

Especially for food allergies, a change in diet may suffice to treat the allergy. Keep in mind to read the label of dog food and dog treats to prevent the occurrence of the allergy.


Human antihistamines may be administered to dogs. Experts at Woof Bark Growl reveals that most vets prescribe Piriton to help control dog pollen allergies and as quick relief for wasp and bee stings, as well as flea bites. Do note that the effects on dogs may vary. Other antihistamines commonly used for dogs are Atarax, Benadryl, Claritin, Chlortrimeton, and Zyrtec.

Medication and Supplements

For severe skin infections, vets may recommend antibiotics and antifungal medicines to treat yeast infections. For supplements, Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids are recommended to improve the health of the dog's skin. Since there are no side effects and are not harmful, most owners are trying supplements for their dogs to treat allergies.

Medicated Baths

Medicated shampoos and conditioners can bring relief to dogs with skin allergies. The contents of these products are aimed at reducing inflammation and soothing injured skin. Frequent bathing will also remove allergens in your dog's fur that may cause an allergy flare-up. When looking for medicated products, search for antimicrobial and antifungal compounds that do not dry out your pet's skin even with frequent application.


Allergy shots can also be administered to dogs, although the effects can be observed within six to twelve months. When the allergens of the dog are successfully identified, suitable immunotherapy is manufactured and administered to the dog. The dog's immunity to the agents used in the hypersensitizing injection can develop within weeks or months, and boosters may be needed.

Keeping our canine friends fit, healthy, and comfortable are the duties of a responsible dog owner. And allergies have a significant impact on your dog's well-being. Allergies must be identified early on by watching out for common symptoms and observing when the allergies occur. It is advisable to seek the assistance of the vet for accurate diagnosis and treatment of your dog's allergy. Aside from medications and treatments, you may also try supplements to improve your dog's health. Dog allergies may not be avoided but can be treated and subdued with the right medication and practice.

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