Dog Allergies: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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A white dog laying in tall green grass at sunset
Kendall Abbott author of Dog Allergies: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

It’s Asthma and Allergy Awareness month! We as people can usually tell when we have allergies to something, but our pets can get allergies just as easily! 

Pets can be allergic to shampoos, grass, and even food. It is important to understand their allergies so that they can live a more comfortable lifestyle. 


What is an Allergy anyway? 

An allergic reaction is a body’s reaction to an allergen. Usually, it is a good thing when our immune systems fight off foreign substances. It keeps us from getting diseases and infections. 

With allergies, our immune system is having a reaction to an allergen and sometimes it can be quite harmful to the host. It is the same way in dogs. Allergic reactions can be scary, so watch be sure to watch out for symptoms. 


Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs

The most common symptom to look out for is itching. Whether it is localized or all over, it is important to know why they are itching. It is important to stop itching before it gets worse because it can lead to hair loss or open wounds.

Other common symptoms are more respiratory such as coughing, sneezing, or even wheezing. Drainage from the eyes or nose can also be a common symptom as well. More severe symptoms include diarrhea or vomiting.


Different Allergy Types and How to Treat Them

It is very common for dogs to have allergies and to be allergic to more than one thing. So,  understanding what your dog is allergic to is a huge step. There can be numerous factors that play into their allergic reactions but pay close attention to how they act after they eat, go outside, or have fleas. 

Once you have an understanding of what is causing their reaction, talk to your vet about treatments, or try some of the ones below. 


Food Allergies and Treatment

A brown and white dog eating dog food our of a silver bowl

Food allergies are more common than people think. The allergy is a reaction to the protein or carbohydrate in the food such as dairy products, beef, wheat gluten, chicken, chicken eggs, lamb, and soy.Dogs can develop an allergy at any time. When your pet has a food allergy, you may notice that they exhibit the symptoms above such as itching, respiratory problems, and digestive issues.

Another thing to look out for is if they drag their bottom along any carpets or rugs in your house. This is a sign of swollen anal glands which can also be caused by food allergies.

It is hard to treat food allergies because it does not usually respond to medical treatments or steroids. The easiest way is to see what your dog is allergic to is eliminating different parts of their diet and seeing their reaction. It takes about 8 weeks for all other food products to exit the dog’s body.

When you try a new diet it is important to wait and measure the time. If you see that their symptoms have diminished or stopped, talk to your vet on how to proceed.


Inhaled Allergies and Treatment

Inhalant allergies occur when the host breathes in pollen or other things like mold or mildew.The most common inhalant allergens are tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen (ragweed), molds, mildew, and house dust mites. Most of the time, these allergies are seasonal and occur in the spring or summer. In these times you want to watch out for grass, cedar, and ragweed pollen. However, other allergens such as molds, mildew, and house dust mites occur year-round.

When your dog has an allergy to these things, it often results in itchy skin or other drainage around the eyes or nose. The dog may rub their face, scratch their nose, lick their feet, or even scratch their underarms.

Common treatments include using a hypoallergenic shampoo, giving your dog anti-inflammatory drugs or supplements like CBD oils, or even giving your dog allergy shots. The easiest at-home method would be using a hypoallergenic shampoo on your dog. This kind of shampoo can be soothing to irritated and inflamed skin. Bathing also washes out the allergens from their coats which will help with irritation.

For the allergy shots and anti-inflammatory treatments, I would recommend consulting your veterinarian and seeing what the best option is.


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Flea or Insect Bite Allergies and Treatment

Flea and insect bite allergies are common for all dogs. It is when there is an exaggerated inflammatory response to the bite or sting of an insect in the area. These bites can come from fleas, ticks, horseflies, mosquitos, wasps, and bees. The most common incest allergen is fleas.

When a dog gets a flea bite it will often result in severe local itching and may even remove the hair and bite at the area. It is common for this to happen around the tail or the lower back of the dog. When they bite a scratch over and over again, this may cause them to break the skin and get abrasions which can lead to other bacterial infections.

To treat this allergy, it is extremely important to have strict flea control. Use medicines and take precautions when they go outside. Every month, apply an at-home flea and tick treatment to your dog and your house free of fleas.

If you are unable to control the fleas, take your dog to the vet and have them prescribe an antihistamine to temporarily stop the itching. If there is a bacterial infection present, be sure to treat that as well.

It is important to observe your dog’s habits when it comes to scratching, licking, butt dragging, sneezing, coughing, or even having a runny nose. If it is a constant thing, be sure to treat it before it causes further damage.

If you have allergies, you know how miserable it can be to go through the symptoms. Let’s make sure we understand our pets' health just as much as our own so we can give our fur babies a great life - allergy-free!


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Meet The Author 

Kendall Abbott

Kendall Abbott obtained her Bachelor's Degree at the University of Kansas, she then went on to pursue her education and love for animals by attending the Animal Behavior College. When she isn't working Kendall enjoys hiking with her two dogs Oscar and Tank. She also loves taking time out of her day to coach her nieces youth basketball team.