Allergies in dogs-common types, symptoms, testing, medicine and home remedies

Living with dogs means taking good care of them and knowing what troubles them. We delve into allergies in dogs and go into details discussing various types such as environmental, seasonal and food allergies. We also set apart the most common types of allergies, their symptoms, tests to help you identify what your pet is allergic to as well as medication and home remedies available for them.

Can Dogs have Allergies?

It is general knowledge that human beings have dog allergies but can dogs have allergies? Dogs get different types of allergies. However, they do not display the same symptoms like human beings. For example, when humans react to grass pollen by sneezing, dogs may get itchy paws and legs from the same. The allergies will also tend to affect different body parts. Some of the allergies are seasonal while others run all year round. Some of the allergies in dogs that your dog is prone to include:

Allergy in dog itching
Allergies in dogs itching

Food Allergy

These are very common in dogs. In most cases, food allergy and atopy which is discussed later on occur together. This type may develop at any point and age of a dog’s life. Dogs will mostly become allergic to carbohydrates and proteins. Although these are common, it is also possible for the dog to become allergic to specific food types. Food allergy is different from food intolerance which happens to have more severe symptoms.

In most cases, food allergies treatment will involve feeding the dog in a diet that excludes the allergen. To know what your dog is allergic to, it might be necessary to conduct an allergy test for the dog. Where this is not possible, you could settle for a diet trial. This involves eliminating specific foods from the dog’s diet until you arrive at what is causing the allergic reaction. Once this has been discovered, serve the dog a homemade meal exclusive of it or settle for a hypoallergenic commercial diet.

Airborne Allergy in Dogs

This is also referred to as atopy. It occurs when your dog gets allergic reactions to particles that they inhale. Airborne allergies are mostly environmental and seasonal. These include pollen, weeds, mildew, molds and dust mites reactions. These allergens result in the dog itching in its axilla, feet and face.

To minimize exposure to these, you can keep him away from them. Ensure the dog remains indoors when grass is mowed or when the pollen count is high. To keep the allergens from the home, incorporate air filters as well. This way, the environment in which the dog is staying is kept free of allergens thus minimizing their exposure. Where this is not possible, your dog may have to take allergy shots to cub the effects.

Contact allergies in dogs
Contact allergy in dogs

Contact Allergy in Dogs

With this type, the dog is allergic to things it gets into contact with. This could be plastic containers when feeding, lawn chemicals, detergents, cleaners or fabrics. The part that gets the reaction is the part that gets into contact with whatever is causing it as opposed to others that make them cough and sneeze. To get rid of this, it is necessary to identify and eliminate the allergen.

Flea Allergy

This is a common type of allergy as well. While it is normal for dogs to get slightly irritated and itch when bitten by fleas, allergic dogs will bite and break their skin from a single flea bite. This effect is mostly felt on the hind legs and base of the tail. To get rid of this, you need to conduct effective flea control. This can be done using home treatment or modern flea medicine. You can ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

Allergy Symptoms in Dogs

Allergy symptoms in dogs will vary depending on what is causing them. In most cases, they will affect dogs above two years but worsen with age. It is however possible for the allergies to set in as early as five months. The most common symptoms of allergies in dogs include:

  • Constant scratching which may with time cause open sores, loss of hair, rashes and raised welts.
  • Licking and biting the body especially the tail, feet and paws.
  • Itching which may cause rubbing feet against surfaces such as walls, floor and furniture.
  • Presence of a runny nose, sneezing and red or watery eyes.
  • Diarrhea, vomiting and increased bowel movement in cases of food allergy in dogs.
  • Reddening or discoloration on the hair surrounding the toes and the paws.
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Flatulence and burping can also be symptoms of allergies in dogs
  • Itching around the rectal area leading to scooting

Since allergic reactions result in scratching, it is very easy for dogs to damage their skin. As a result, yeast grows and increases rapidly. With time, the infections will become smelly and they will increase the chances of opportunistic infections and other signs associated with allergies in dogs. These include:

Dog allergy ear infection itching
Dog allergy ear infection itch

Ear Infections as a Result of Dog allergies

These are common in dogs more than skin infections are. Some dogs may have this as the only obvious problem they get when they are suffering allergies. If left unchecked, these could develop to chronic ear infection which then progresses to deafness. They should therefore not be left unchecked.

Dog Skin Infections Caused by Allergies

Where the dog scratches so much it breaks the skin, it becomes easy for bacteria to infest the area. Since the environment is conducive, they multiply very fast causing infections that require antibiotics to recover. This though does not get rid of the allergens and the infection is likely to recur once the dog suffers a new allergic bout.

Dog Allergies and Digestive Problems

When dogs suffer allergies to food, they may experience a lot of digestive problems. These may include burping, diarrhea and vomiting. It is also possible for the dogs to suffer hives, conjunctivitis and swollen lymph nodes in addition to the upset stomach.

Common Dog allergies

To effectively relieve allergies in dogs, it is important to learn what the cause is first. This is because alleviating the symptoms without dealing with the source of the allergies only offers short term relief. When it comes to classification of allergies, they can be grouped depending on their causes, parts they affect or when they occur. While there are many allergies like seen above, some are known to be occur more than others. Below we explore the most common dog allergies.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

With this type of allergy the dog becomes allergic to saliva from fleas. This is contrary to popular belief that the flea bites cause the allergic reaction. Once the flea saliva is on the skin of the dog, it causes irritation. The extent of irritation is normally way out of proportion compared to the number of fleas there may be on the skin of the dog.

As such, saliva from a single flea can cause misery in your dog as it will itch endlessly. This may not be expected by most pet owners as they assume that the itching could only be caused by a reasonable amount of fleas. Worse still, the saliva of the fleas can continue to make the dog miserable long after the fleas are dead. It is therefore important to carry out effective flea control and management to prevent the dog from the agony.

How to Control Fleas

Where you think your dog could be suffering from flea allergies, ensure that you comb her coat at least once each day. Do it on a light colored cloth or towel so you can observe what kind of dirt gets off the dog. You might be in a position to observe flea feces. In case you dissolve this in water or rubbing alcohol and a red color is released, this is an indication that there is blood in it and confirms an infestation by fleas.

To get rid of these, ensure that you bath the dog regularly. Give it a soothing oatmeal bath to relief the itching and make the dog more comfortable. In the long run, ensure that you employ flea control measures. Use natural products to keep the insects at bay especially during the flea season. In case of severe dermatitis, see your veterinarian so they can administer relevant oral medication. Where the fleas get out of control, involve professionals in getting rid of them.

Food Allergies in Dogs

It is easy for dogs to be allergic to things they ingest. According to, ten percent of all allergic reactions in dogs are food allergies. Food allergy in dogs is likely to show up as a form of an upset digestive system in the form of vomiting, diarrhea or flatulence. In severe cases, it may also be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Red irritated eyes
  • Oozing or itchy skin
  • Inflamed ears
  • Swollen paws
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Skin rash and hives
  • Paw biting and obsessive licking
  • Nausea or vomiting

To learn what could be causing the food allergies, you can decide to have your veterinarian guide you through food elimination. This involves feeding your dog on a hypoallergenic diet for six to eight weeks. This gives your dog enough time for the allergic ingredients to get eliminated from the body. Once the system has been detoxified and there is cellular cleansing, various foods are introduced into the dog’s diet. This helps to pinpoint what the source of the reaction is and thus eliminate it from the dog’s diet.

Common Food Allergies in Dogs

Canine food allergy occurs when your pet identifies a particular food that has been ingested or part of the ingredients as harmful and therefore creates antibodies to defend it from the food. Food allergies are therefore an immune response. With this in mind, what are the most common food allergies in dogs? The lists the following as the foods your dog is most likely to react to:

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Dairy Products: A common source of dog food allergies
Dairy products a common cause of dog food allergies
  • Wheat, corn, soy and yeast
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs and chicken
  • Lamb and beef

When it comes to food allergies in your pooch, breed matters. Some of the dog breeds most prone to food allergies include cocker spaniels, dachshunds and German shepherds. With these and other allergic dogs, it is possible for your pet to suddenly develop an allergic reaction to something they have been eating all along. In such situations, the dog becomes sensitized to the food with time. To keep your dog healthy, it is important to avoid foods that it is sensitive to. Ensure it feeds on an appropriate and well balanced diet.

Environmental Allergies

This is another very common type of pet allergy which may manifest itself as eye or skin allergy. It is possible for a dog to get allergic from irritants that are within the environment. These may be experienced outdoors or indoors. Dogs may experience allergic reactions to things like cleaning chemicals, dust mites, fabrics and mold. Environmental allergies are among those that cause itching, hives and pustules on the skin.

Outdoors the dog may get irritated if they are prone to ragweed, grass pollen allergy among others. Environmental allergies that are within the home usually occur all year round while those outside tend to be seasonal. Some environmental allergies are genetic and thus may be inherited.

The best way of dealing with this is to ensure that the allergens are eliminated. This is possible for allergens within the house and can be achieved by cleaning the environment within which the dog lives. Settle for hypoallergenic products for use within the house. Also consider using an air purifier to help in controlling dust mites. Also try and keep people from smoking around the pet.

Where the source is outdoors, keeping your dog indoors may help. Also pay attention to his paws when bathing him. Give foot soaks regularly to get rid of any allergens you may be carrying from outside and bringing in to the house from where the pet picks them. This will help get rid of them as well as prevent the dog from spreading it all over.

Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

Can dogs have seasonal allergies? Seasonal allergies in dogs are quite common. There are those that will have reactions in summer while others may only have allergic reactions in the winter. Most seasonal allergens are also the common environmental allergies which have been discussed above. In areas where there isn’t hard freezing during the winter, some seasonal allergens may build up and be present all year round.

Dust Mite Allergies in Dogs

Dust mites thrive in warm, moist and dark areas and are mostly found in upholstered furniture, cloth toys, bedding, carpets and mattresses. Their bodies are translucent and they love feeding on the skin of humans and pets. Although dust mites may be there all year round, dust mite allergies are known to pick during the spring and fall seasons according to This is because these seasons give a conducive environment for them to thrive thus ensuring their populations are high.

Signs of allergic reactions to dust mites in dogs include itching that is centered on the feet and face, bacterial skin infections, ear inflammation that is recurrent and red itchy rashes on the skin that come with white scales. To prevent the dog from dust mites, keep where it stays clean. The dog bed should be covered in plastic and covers washed regularly. Also ensure that the bed is frequently aired. Vacuuming carpets and upholstery regularly is also important. Where dealing with the environment doesn’t help the dog, you could visit the veterinarian and they could offer allergy shots to help overcome the allergens.

Allergy Testing for Dogs

In some situations, it is important to conduct an allergy test on your dog so that you can be certain of what your dog is reacting to. This is more so where it is hard to pick a specific thing that is affecting your dog. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best form of allergy testing for dogs that is suitable for your pet. It could be one of those discussed below,

RAST Pet Allergy Skin Test

When it comes to testing of allergies in dogs, a Radioallergosorbent Serum Test commonly known as a RAST test can be conducted. This helps to identify reactions to given antigens. These could be fleas, mites, food or pollen. Depending on how many tests are to be done and location where the test is to be done, this will cost you between $200 and $500.

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Intradermal Skin Tests

This is yet another clinical test done on the skin. With this, some small amounts of what your pet may be allergic to is injected into an area that has been shaven. Where the reaction consists of histamine release and increased flow of blood, the site of injection is likely to turn red, become puffy and raised. This will help in indicating what the dog is allergic to and what should be avoided. This cost of the test just like that of a RAST test is a bit high too.

Food Allergy Elimination Trial

This one is used in determining dog food allergies using an elimination method. It requires that the dog is only fed on specific types of diets and can be done at home under the direction of the vet. Specific food is given over specific period of time and if no reaction occurs you know that your dog is tolerant to it. During the test period, dogs are expected to have nothing else. With time more foods are added until it is clear what food is causing the reaction. The elimination procedure can also be done using food cooked at home.

Allergy Medicine for Dogs

Depending on the allergy that your dog is suffering from, you can get him medication. For the treatment to be effective though, you may have to conduct an allergy test for the dog first. The specific allergies may be determined by what season of the year it is and the body location where it is happening. There are different forms of medication that your veterinarian may offer.

Skin Medication for allergy Relief

The best allergy meds for dogs are those that address the underlying cause. They may be administered in the form of allergy pills, allergy tablets or allergy shampoos.

Dog allergy shampoo
Allergy Shampoo for dogs

Anti-Allergy shampoo for Dogs

When used for treating reactions, it is incorporated while bathing the dog. It will help to remove debris, pollen and other allergens that may be on the skin coat. Depending on the diagnosis, the vet may prescribe a prescription strength shampoo. These contain anti-inflammatory ingredients which give relief to your allergic dog.

Anti-inflammatory Allergy Medication

These include antihistamines and steroids which help to block the reaction and alleviate the signs of the reaction. Most of them work very fast and will provide immediate relief to your dog. They will take away the itching and relief hives. Antibiotics may as well be administered to protect your dog from opportunistic infections.

Home Remedies for Allergies in Dogs

Apart from the above treatments for dog allergy, other home remedies and means to relief your dog from allergies include:

  • Minimizing your dog’s chances of exposure to allergens.
  • Feeding your dog on a natural diet that is of high quality and ensuring what they may lack is supplemented for. To give it anti-inflammatory advantage, ensure it gets fatty acids. These will also help in improving the cat and the skin.
  • To prevent them from suffering plastic allergies, always use glass or stainless steel dishes. Ensure that these are kept clean always.
  • Employ flea preventive measures regularly as a method on how to treat dog allergy. Settle for natural products as opposed to harsh chemicals.
  • Always wash the bedding that the dog uses with hot water and hypoallergenic detergent.

Sources: Helping Your Dog Overcome Common Allergies Frequently Asked Questions Most Common Food Allergies in Dogs Allergy in Dogs Allergies in Dogs

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