Understanding Allergy Issues in Dogs

Understanding Allergy Issues in Dogs

We generally consider allergies to be a human affliction. Unfortunately, dogs often develop them too, with symptoms usually emerging somewhere between six months and two years of age. If your pup appears to frequently scratch itself or has developed a rash, here's what you should understand about dog allergies.

What Your Dog Might Be Allergic To

Your dog may be having a reaction to:

  • The proteins from insects, like fleas (exposure to flea saliva is one of the most common allergic reactions in dogs)
  • Plants and pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Other animals' skin cells
  • Dust mites
  • Food

A dog who scratches frequently may remove patches of hair or develop a bacterial infection.

Types of Dog Allergies

Dogs generally come into contact with allergens in the following ways:

  • Inhaling them
  • Having skin contact with them
  • Consuming them

The reaction may be immediate, resulting in anaphylaxis, or it can be delayed. Your pet may have a skin reaction - called allergic dermatitis - or a respiratory response, called allergic bronchitis. Just as with humans, certain seasonal allergens may trigger reactions in your dog.

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

Based on the type of allergic response, symptoms may include:

  • Itching and scratching (either general or local)
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Nasal discharge or an increase in tearing (which can cause tear stains)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and other digestive issues
  • Patches of red or infected skin
  • Increased shedding
  • Licking its paws more frequently
  • Waxy ears
  • Recurring infections

Managing Allergies in Dogs

Should you notice one or more of the above symptoms, bring it to the attention of your veterinarian. Initially, your vet may direct you to an over-the-counter antihistamine so that your pet can have some relief. If your dog has been scratching, a soothing anti-itch spray or topical solution designed for dogs may also be recommended. Note that anti-itch products made for humans should not be used on dogs.
Other solutions may include:

  • A prescription anti-inflammatory drug, like a corticosteroid or antihistamine
  • Fatty acid supplementation
  • Routine bathing with a gentle pet shampoo to remove potential allergens
  • Allergy shots to desensitize your pet
  • Removing foods that may be causing digestive distress

In addition, when it comes to bulldogs and other wrinkly breeds, clean their skin folds regularly with hypoallergenic wipes to remove allergens and sources of irritation.