People are not the only ones who have allergic reactions. Your dog can have them, too - and they can be very tricky.
Taking care of your dog does not only mean feeding it and protecting it from injuries. With most dog breeds, it also means treating allergies.
But how do you do that? And are there any tests that could help diagnose this in time?
Well, for one, there are many types of dog allergies. It’s practically impossible to start discussing treatment without expanding your knowledge on this topic first.
My advice is that you continue scrolling. You'll know everything about your dog's allergies and how to help your pet overcome its allergic reaction by the end of this guide.
I'm sure you'll find the information about dog allergy treatment useful!
Allergies In Dogs - The Basics
The first question on a pet parent's mind is probably:
What are dog allergies?
As with humans, dog allergies involve a very sensitive reaction of the dog's immune system to a foreign body. It can be connected to anything from dog food to environmental sources.
This foreign body that causes the reaction is called an allergen.
Your dog will begin to show severe symptoms resulting from exposure to the allergen. Excessive exposure to an allergen can have a severe impact on your dog's health and well-being.
The longer you wait, the more dangerous the consequences will be.
Since there are several types of allergies, treatment methods can depend on the cause - and need to be adapted to particular dog breeds. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Another thing worth noting here is that some dog breeds are more susceptible to allergies than others. Sometimes, these are factors that you can influence as a pet parent - but they can also be a genetic issue.
Nevertheless, diagnosis is of paramount importance. The ability of allergies to affect your dog's health should not be underestimated.
Dog’s Allergies List: An Overview
There are several types of dog allergies you might be dealing with here. So, let’s go through all of them together, shall we?
Food is a common trigger for allergic reactions. Your dog could likely become allergic to certain foods - or, more likely, specific ingredients in its diet. Often, buying low-quality dog food could be enough to kick off a chain of events that ultimately lead to an allergic reaction.
And while giving your dog spoiled food isn’t directly linked to allergies, it may cause similar symptoms and weaken your dog’s immune system.
Some dogs are intolerant to certain foods, and therefore it is imperative to test them to avoid unwanted side effects.
Here are examples of pet food ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction:
- Soy or gluten (typically from wheat)
Pro Tip: If you plan to test your dog for allergies, jump to my article on Dog Allergy Testing. You'll find everything you need to know - plus some recommendations - over there.
Have you noticed that your dog sneezes more often during a specific season? There’s a chance that your pet developed pollen allergies, i.e., seasonal allergies.
If that’s the case, the plants in your environment will have a significant impact on your dog's health.
Environmental allergens, like pollen, tend to reach their peak during summer and spring; some plant species that could be the source and cause for concern when it comes to pet allergy are:
- Sheep Sorrel
It's not fair to blame all environmental allergies on the pollen, though. Dust mites can be a cause of inhalant allergy, too.
It's pretty straightforward what this allergy affects - your dog’s skin.
It implies severe symptoms that are visible on the skin of your dog. This type of allergy carries almost the highest level of danger, as it may potentially develop into an infection.
In most cases, canine skin allergies are caused by:
- Flea allergy dermatitis (usually caused by flea saliva)
- Household chemicals
In other words, anything that touches your dog's skin carries with it a risk of an allergic reaction.
In addition to these evident irritants, skin allergies also have their roots in the food your dog consumes. An affected dog will immediately start to show some signs, like skin irritation and itchiness.
Acute allergic reactions can vary in severity. However, they have one thing in common - the allergic dogs immediately show a reaction to the allergen, be it food or environmental sources.
Poisonous insects, plants, and certain medications can also cause an acute allergic reaction.
The onset of symptoms is sudden - often seconds or minutes after the dog’s been exposed to the allergen - and can damage your dog's health in minutes.
Therefore, immediate treatment is necessary.
Dog Allergy Symptoms
As with many other health problems, noticing the symptoms in time can be of tremendous help. But you can’t detect the symptoms if you don’t know what to look for, can you?
So, what does dog allergy look like, though?
You can read about the seven most common allergy symptoms.
1. Itchy Skin
Constant itching is often the first sign of allergies in dogs. You'll probably notice that your dog's itching so much that it has to stop what it's doing every few minutes to scratch itself.
It can happen during your regular walks in the park, while playing at home, or even during a nap. Timing doesn't matter; if the skin is itching, you'll have to make time for a scratch or two.
Is Itchy Skin A Sign Of Flea Allergy Dermatitis?
Yes, in addition to allergies, fleas can cause constant scratching of your dog. If you don't address it soon, your dog can inflict wounds on its skin that can later grow into scars.
To make matters even more complicated, flea allergies in dogs are also a thing - and itchy, irritated skin is a common symptom.
Irritation is very closely related to itching and is often the result of excessive touching of the dog’s skin and coat. Irritated skin can lead to severe rashes or even inflammation.
If your dog's skin has been looking irritated lately, you should try intradermal skin testing. You'll know in advance what to avoid when it comes to environmental allergens.
Although pet allergies tend to show up on the skin, there’s also a chance that your pup might experience sneezing as a symptom.
At least this one is impossible to overlook.
In 99% of cases, this is an indicator that there is an allergen in the air, and it's making your dog sneeze. So, for example, in the case of pollen, sneezing is an immune response to environmental allergies.
4. Hair Loss
Don't be shocked if you see your dog losing excessive amounts of hair all of a sudden. That can very easily be the result of an allergic reaction.
So, pet owners - keep your eyes open when cleaning the house.
Atopic allergic reactions (atopic dermatitis) can be noticed by the redness on your dog's skin. You might also see that your dog’s healthy coat changed its texture or length or that your dog has hot spots all over the body.
6. Unpleasant Smell
Allergy symptoms visible to the eye are certainly not the only ones. Sometimes, an unpleasant smell is also an indication that your dog is sensitive to its food.
That falls under gastrointestinal symptoms, and in most cases, it is related to what your dog has consumed lately.
7. Vomiting & Diarrhea
These are among the most common symptoms of food allergies. After your dog has eaten something that does not suit its' immune system, you will notice signs of diarrhea and constant vomiting.
The immune system protects itself by the immediate ejection of harmless substances. So, be prepared!
Dog Allergy - Common Treatment Methods
Once you have determined a proper diagnosis through blood tests or, in the case of food allergy, a food trial, it is time to touch on the following topic:
Allergy medicine and what you can do to treat your dog's symptoms.
Luckily, veterinary medicine has come a long way, and today it offers multiple solutions by which you can help treat allergies in dogs and manage symptoms of allergic skin disease.
However, not all breeds react the same to treatments.
That's why, besides allergy testing, you need to consult with your vet on the best possible solution for your dog.
With that said, I'm going to list down the most effective treatments for allergies in dogs below.
Flea Allergy Treatment
Allergies caused by fleas are the easiest to solve. It can be as simple as buying products that repel fleas, most of which are suitable for at-home use. Keeping your dog’s environment flea-free will be an ongoing battle, though.
Flea saliva is directly linked to itchy skin - but if your dog's clinical signs point to secondary skin infections, antibiotic treatment might be necessary, too.
Carefully read the chemical composition of the product you are buying. Low-quality repellents can cause itching and irritation when applied to the skin.
If the source of the allergy has been determined through allergy testing, you could try immunotherapy - also known as desensitization therapy. In essence, the idea is to create an allergy injection serum for your dog to desensitize the immune response.
This type of dog allergy medication is the most common treatment of seasonal allergies.
Are Dog Allergy Shots Safe?
Opinions are definitely divided. These shots are part of immunotherapy. Many vets consider this to be the most effective way of treating dog allergies, while others claim that their dogs have shown severe respiratory symptoms due to acute allergic reactions.
This is another form of allergy medicine for dogs. However, you should not give this type of medication to your dog before consulting with your vet, as steroid-based allergy medicine for dogs can have some serious side effects.
Corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory dog allergy meds are given in smaller doses over a short period; long-term use can affect dogs negatively and lead to diabetes.
Misuse of these dog allergy pills can lead to secondary infections on the skin.
If it’s evident that your dog is allergic to pollen, it’s up to you to remove it from your environment or to avoid going to places where it is present in massive quantities.
And that means you might have to take a break from going to the park during the peak pollen season.
What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
This is common for both pet owners and their dogs. It is an allergic reaction to an excessive amount of allergen in the air - in this case, pollen.
If you ignore the nasal symptoms such as sneezing and occasional shortness of breath, the symptoms might worsen over time.
If the allergen came from external sources, the first step towards dealing with this is giving your dog a nice warm bath. You need to get the allergen off your dog!
While it doesn't exactly count as an effective allergy treatment, bathing can provide dog allergies relief - if you use natural, anti-inflammatory, and hypoallergenic shampoo, that is.
Choose something that will soothe rather than irritate your pet's skin or make allergy symptoms even worse.
Fatty Acid Supplements
If food allergies are suspected, your vet will likely recommend an elimination diet trial as the most common way of diagnosing a food allergy. That means that you will have to modify your dog's diet until the food allergy is confirmed.
Once the food trial is over, try introducing fatty acid supplements in their diet.
Adding Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids will prove highly beneficial in treating skin allergies (mainly canine allergic dermatitis) and generally promoting healthy skin in dogs.
Additional Tips For An Allergy-Free Life
Prevention is half the battle, right? So, if your dog showed some allergic symptoms before, here are some tips on how to help them stay allergy-free:
- Pay attention to early clinical signs of allergic dermatitis.
- Clean your house regularly.
- Use air filters that don't promote inhalant allergy.
- Watch out for hay fever.
- Spray your house against dust mites.
- Check your dog's skin every day.
7 Breeds That Are Prone To Allergies
Since I mentioned at the very beginning that some breeds are more likely to suffer from allergies than others, I’m going to list the top seven breeds that are most prone to dog allergies:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Brussels Griffon
If you have one of these dogs, the chances of experiencing canine atopic dermatitis, flea allergies, true food allergies, or even contact allergies are twice as high.
You might want to consult your vet on the best dog allergy medicine before things get too serious.
Dog Allergy Treatment - Final Words
We've made it to the end of this article, and now it's time to summarize all the information you have read on the topic of dog allergy treatment. As you could see for yourself, this is rather a broad topic.
Dog allergies are not that uncommon. And in order to treat them, it's vital to recognize the symptoms in time and do further testing. Depending on your dog's overall health, the vet will recommend the most suitable treatment method.
And it is up to you to stick to the prescribed treatment and keep your dog's environment and diet allergen-free.
If you have an allergic dog, I hope this info will come in handy!