Watery eyes, sneezing, itchy skin, the sight of pollen within the air-anyone who suffers from allergies probably feels a sense of dread when reading those words. But can dogs have allergies, too? The reply is yes: Just like humans, canines can are afflicted by dog allergies that belongs to them.

Unfortunately, dog allergies are often challenging diagnose and can't be cured, only managed. And they're not only a pain for the four-legged friends. Allergies commonly lead to secondary health problems, like recurrent skin and ear infections. Certainly one of my patients, a Lab we'll call Sami, were built with a good reputation for near constant ear infections that would flare support each time his owners stopped treating him. Once we determined that Sami was allergic to the beef in his pet food and switched him to totally beef-free diet, his ear infections were anything of history.

Like people, dogs might have allergies to just about anything. First you need to determine what is resulting in the allergic attack. Then, once you have a diagnosis, a veterinarian can determine the very best treatment for your pet.

Different Kinds of Dog Allergies

Veterinarians organize the most common dog allergies into the three categories:

  • Fleas
  • Food
  • Environmental allergens

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea allergies are in the top of this list for any reason. Bites from fleas would be the leading reason for allergy symptoms in dogs. Many dogs are hypersensitive to flea saliva.

Just because you don't spot fleas does not mean they aren't the culprit of the dog's discomfort. Dogs do not need to be visibly infested with fleas to see severe allergy symptoms. Just one bite might be all that is essential. Itchiness and hair loss that is focused in the base of the tail strongly suggests fleas.

Dog Seasonal Allergies

Environmental allergens are probably what first spring to mind when you think of allergies. They often start out as a seasonal affliction but tend to progress and may be a year-round trouble with time. Pollen, dustmites, food storage mites and mold are common dog allergens.

The inflammation and itchiness caused by environmental allergies make dogs lick and chew their skin to excess. In the event of dog eye allergies, the eyes may also become red and itchy. Some breeds, for example Boxers, Cocker Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers, are more susceptible to seasonal allergies, but any dog can be affected.

Dog Food Allergies

Allergic reactions to food ingredients are not as fashionable as allergies to fleas or environmental triggers. However, food allergies are possible and can develop right after starting a brand new food or after many years of eating exactly the same food. Symptoms are similar to what you will see with any other type of allergy, even though they are sometimes combined with digestive problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

A study published in 2019 found that the most common triggers for dog food allergies are beef, milk products, chicken and wheat. Many dogs, including my very own, are allergic to several type of food.

Common Dog Allergy Symptoms

Dogs suffer similar symptoms regardless of the reason for their allergies, and allergies produce most of the same symptoms as do other diseases affecting your skin. This could make reaching an accurate diagnosis frustrating.

With all the allergy types, the primary symptom is itchiness. Dogs may rub their faces from the carpet, rub their sides across the wall, and scratch and gnaw in their skin. Sometimes itchiness is centered on particular locations while in severe cases, the entire body is affected.

Common the signs of dog allergies include:

  • Repetitive scratching, licking and chewing from the body
  • Chronic or recurrent skin and/or ear infections
  • Head shaking
  • Hair loss, hot spots, scabs along with other skin lesions

Bambi Edlund

Diagnosing Dog Allergies

Diagnosing an allergic reaction could be a lengthy process due to there being no single test that will let you know all that you should know. Reaching a diagnosis and pinpointing the allergen(s) that are responsible for a dog's symptoms takes time and patience.

Your veterinarian will take into consideration the results of the physical exam along with all the factors relating to your specific pet. Your canine's age, breed, health background, present condition and any recent changes made in your own home will all influence how you proceed.

If fleas or “flea dirt” (flea excrement) are located, it could be a quick diagnosis, although this is not always as straightforward as you might think. I've had several owners refuse to believe that fleas would blame for his or her dog's symptoms until their dog's itchiness disappeared after I could convince them to consider using a good flea control product, like Revolution Topical Solution for Dogs.

If fleas aren't the problem, the vet will most likely need to run some simple diagnostic tests. The initial step is typically to rule out other, common causes of itchy skin in dogs. Potential tests include:

  • Fungal cultures for ringworm
  • Skin cytology to diagnose yeast or bacterial infections
  • Skin scrapings to recognize mange mites

If after all this the vet thinks that the environmental allergy might be to blame for your canine's symptoms, they may recommend dog allergy testing. With an intradermal skin test, a little amount of many potential allergens are injected into different spots in the skin, and your dog's response to are all monitored to recognize their triggers. Some veterinarians will refer you to definitely a veterinary dermatologist for these kinds of procedures.

Blood allergy tests are an alternative choice, however they are not generally thought to be as reliable as skin testing. They are simpler to run, however. For this type of dog allergy testing, an example of blood is simply delivered to a diagnostic lab where it's checked for antibodies against a number of allergens.

Should the vet suspect dog food allergies will be to blame, you will need to do a diet trial in your own home. Prescription foods are perfect in this process because they are a smaller amount likely to be contaminated along with other ingredients than have been in over-the-counter foods. A great choice for food trials are diets created using hydrolyzed protein, meaning the proteins are broken down into molecules that are they canrrrt trigger an allergic reaction. Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Original Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Pet food, for example, is made from hydrolyzed chicken liver. For dogs that do better on wet food, canned options such as Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Adult Canned Dog Food can be found.

Once all potential food allergens have been eliminated out of your dog's diet, you need to see a marked improvement in their symptoms within four to six weeks, however, many dogs are slower to respond. Many veterinarians suggest that a food trial go on for a minimum of eight to 12 weeks. Whenever your dog's allergy symptoms have subsided, you can slowly reintroduce foods to determine what triggers a reaction and to read the diagnosis.

How to Treat Dog Allergies

Once your dog has been diagnosed with a specific kind of allergy, treatment can start. The vet will choose how to deal with your canine's allergies according to the allergen or allergens.

If fleas are the culprit, a veterinary-recommended flea treatment medication ought to be administered per label instructions. A deep clean of the home may also be required since at any given time the majority of fleas that comprise an infestation reside in environmental surroundings, not on your dog. Thoroughly vacuum your carpets, hard floors, and upholstery. Wash and dry (on a hot setting, if possible) all of your as well as your dog's bedding. For difficult to reach areas, consider a premise spray like Advantage Household Spot & Crevice Spray.

Get more tips on how to combat fleas on dogs.

With environmental allergies, hyposensitization therapy is generally considered the gold standard for treatment. Dogs are given repeated injections or doses of the sublingual (under the tongue) serum containing the offending allergen(s) to desensitize the defense mechanisms. Before long, dogs build up a tolerance and become less reactive.

A number of symptomatic approaches to managing environmental allergies can also be found. Combination therapy has a tendency to work best and could include:

  • Antihistamines for mild cases, although they are not extremely effective for dogs by themselves.
  • Bathing your pet with an appropriate medicated shampoo, that will soothe your skin, regardless of the kind of allergy. Duoxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog & Cat Shampoo, for instance, contains ingredients that help prevent or treat infection and relieve itching.

(For dog seasonal allergies, bathing has got the additional advantage of removing allergens from the coat and skin. It's also helpful to keep windows closed and wipe your pet down when they come inside. Pay extra focus on the paws.)

  • Omega 3 essential fatty acid supplements, which improve skin health and are safe for many dogs. Vetoquinol Care Triglyceride Omega-3 Essential fatty acid can be given orally via a capsule. You can also puncture the capsule and pour the liquid over food.
  • Oral steroids, such as prednisone. They offer quick relief, but could be associated with negative side effects when used on the long period of time. Many veterinarians is only going to prescribe them for short term or intermittent use.
  • Other prescription medications for example Atopica, Cytopoint and Apoquel, which may be effective with respect to the individual dog. All of them come with their own pros and cons, so it's better to talk to your veterinarian for guidance.
  • Prescription corticosteroid eye drops to ease dog eye allergies. Rinsing the eyes with a sterile saline solution and wiping any discharge from the eyes regularly may also help.
  • Acupuncture, which may be very effective treatments, particularly when utilized in addition to other therapies.
  • Antibiotics, if the irritation from an allergic reaction creates a secondary bacterial or candidiasis.

Food-allergic dogs must never eat their triggering ingredients. Even flavored, chewable medication should be avoided. Do not offer your pet any table scraps or treats if you aren't sure they are safe. Think about a product like Hill's Prescription Diet Hypo-Treats, which have hydrolyzed protein, when you want to give your dog a tasty tidbit.

Here's just one scenario that shows precisely how complex coping with allergies could be. A buddy of mine adopted a Bulldog mix named Mason who had chronic ear infections, inflamed skin, intense itchiness and hair thinning. After an extensive diagnostic procedure that included an intradermal allergy test and a food trial, a veterinary dermatologist diagnosed Mason with both environmental allergies and food allergies and prescribed a hydrolyzed diet, hyposensitization shots, a medicated shampoo and Duoxo Chlorhexidine 3% Pads to wipe him down in between baths. It's something my pal needs to stay on top of consistently, or else Mason's symptoms break out quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Dog Allergies

Allergies are a prevalent problem without a simple diagnosis or universal treatment. What works for one dog may not work with another, and some experimenting is required in almost every case. With all of this taken into account, it's natural for pet parents to have questions. We've made a list of probably the most frequently asked questions here.


What may be the price of dog allergy testing?

A: Your dog allergy testing cost is determined by the type of test, your geographic location, your clinic and the more knowledge about your dog's case. A great ballpark figure is $300 for intradermal skin testing or blood testing for allergies, however your veterinarian can provide you with a more personalized estimate of the total dog allergy testing cost. Avoid online DIY test kits, because these don't provide accurate results.


Can you allow a dog Benadryl for allergies?

A: Just like any medication, it's best to talk to your veterinarian before giving Benadryl to your pet. Having said that, Benadryl is among the few “human medications” largely considered safe for dogs. It isn't a powerful treatment for allergies, however it can offer relief in certain mild cases or when utilized in in conjunction with other therapies.


What would be the most common dog allergies?

A: Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common dog allergy. It's most prevalent in warmer months but can be a problem throughout the year, and that's why year-round flea control is so important. Prevention is much easier than coping with an infestation.

It's tough to see our pets in distress and endlessly itchy due to allergies, however with patience and perseverance you are able to provide them with relief. Maintaining an open type of communication with your veterinarian can help you remain on top of your canine's symptoms. Although managing dog allergies can be a painstaking process, the reward is well worth it for both you and your dog.