You love your dog, and want him to feel as comfortable as possible at all times. If he’s sick, he may not be acting like his normal, happy self. While canines can be diagnosed with a number of different ailments, many pet parents might find themselves asking, “Can dogs get allergies?” If you are one of those owners, you are not alone. Dogs can in fact get allergies just like their human counterparts. However, unlike humans, they can’t communicate when they are feeling sick or if they need to go see a vet.
Even though your dog has been exhibiting signs that he has allergies and his body is trying to combat them, you aren’t quite certain if that’s the case. After all, maybe he just ate something unusual, hurt himself in the dog park, or is feeling upset over new changes in his environment. However, if you begin to notice a runny nose, hair loss, or skin infections, that may mean that your furry friend is suffering from an actual pet allergy. Read on to learn more about pet allergies to determine whether or not your pup needs treatment.
All About Dog Allergies
According to CertaPet, dog allergies are like human allergies: “Viruses or allergen particles can enter the body through various pathways. This can include through inhalation, consumption, through the skin, or via mucous areas such as the eyes or nose.” When these particles are present in the body, the body fights back by producing antibodies and white blood cells to get rid of them.
There are many different causes of allergies in dogs. It’s up to you as their owner to determine the trigger that is causing your pup’s discomfort so you can expel it from their daily life. There are many dogs that have pet allergies, and it’s usually not of major concern. Approximately 20 to 25% of dogs get some sort of allergic reaction at a certain point in their lives, and of these, only 10 to 15% are food allergies from a dog’s diet, while the rest are usually environmental allergies. Dogs can have multiple types of allergies, and there is some belief that dogs’ allergies are increasing because of the growing use of synthetic chemicals in home products as well as dog food.
Since allergies are so common in all breeds, there are many different treatment options available to you and your pup. From natural foods to allergy relief dog snacks, there are many products available to help rid your dog of his symptoms. One trip to the vet and some medicine or a change in diet, lifestyle or environment can make all the difference and ensure your dog gets back on the right track with his health.
Knowing what the dog allergy reaction symptoms can help you determine whether or not your pup has allergies. Then, once you figure out the root cause of his discomfort and illness, you can you can start treating your dog with allergies to help him feel better in no time.
Here are some dog allergy symptoms to watch out for in your pup.
Dog Allergy Symptoms
There are many signs your dog has allergies, some more subtle than others. Depending on the type of allergies you dog has, you may witness a variety of symptoms flare up. Common signs of dog allergies include:
- Scratching different parts of his body, including paws, ears, ankles, base of his tail, back, head and forelegs
- Biting of the skin
- A runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Coughing and sneezing
- Swelling of the face
- Lesions on his skin
- Blisters filled with pus on his skin
- Reddish skin
If you notice any of these symptoms, you’ll need to research more about dog allergies. You’ll also have to look at things like:
- What food your dog is eating
- What medicine he’s on
- The environment he’s living in
- Whether he did anything out of the ordinary, ate something new, went on a new drug or there was some other shift in his life
While some dogs develop allergies as early as a few months into their lives, other allergies can come up seemingly out of nowhere. A simple change – such as switching to another brand of dog food or the shift in seasons – can cause your pup to suddenly have allergic reactions. When you go to your vet, she is going to ask you about any recent changes, so be prepared.
Types of Dog Allergies
Depending on the symptoms your dog is experiencing, he may have a number of different allergies.
Flea or parasite allergies
Your dog may have allergies that are caused by the presence of parasites or fleas. The flea saliva is what dogs develop an allergy to. If you see your dog scratching constantly, take a look at his skin, especially around the base of the tail. If your dog has a parasite or flea allergy, he may also excessively lick, as well as experience hair loss, usually around his butt and hind legs, and have lesions or scabs on his skin. To treat fleabites, give your dog monthly flea medicine, regular flea baths, and treat your yard for fleas if there’s an infestation.
If your dog has another parasite, like ticks or mites, ask your veterinarian how to go about removing them. With a tick, for instance, you’ll need to use a special tool. Don’t attempt to remove the tick with your fingers, or else it can get lodged in your dog’s skin.
Another allergy that dogs can get at any age is a food allergy. Dogs are allergic to certain proteins and carbohydrates, so they may be experiencing a reaction to their food, treats, or any supplements they take. A food allergy may show up on the skin – your dog could start scratching himself – or develop digestive problems like vomiting and diarrhea.
To treat a dog food allergy, your veterinarian will put your pup on an elimination diet, where you eliminate food, treats and supplements and see if the allergic reaction gets any better. Commercial dog food that’s low quality can irritate a dogs’ stomach, so your vet might have you switch to a higher quality dog food or feed him boiled chicken and white rice until symptoms subside.
Environmental & Seasonal Allergies
Your dog could be allergic to things inside or outside of your home. He can even develop seasonal allergies that are caused by environmental allergens like pollen or dander. Inside your home, he may have a reaction to dust, mold, pollen or dander. If you have other pets, their pet dander could be irritating your pup as well. Of course, it’s unhealthy to have mold anywhere in your home, so ask a repairman to take a look and see if you have a mold issue. As for dust, use an air purifier, dust any countertops regularly, and wash your curtains or any other fabrics that could be collecting dust. Also, wash your dog’s bedding once a week to keep it clean and allergen-free. When cleaning your house, opt for natural products instead of ones with tons of chemicals since these are known to irritate some humans as well as dogs.
If your dog is allergic to certain plants or other things that are outside, then you’ll need to avoid walking and playing in certain areas, as well as give your dog a prescribed or over-the-counter antihistamine. These include Zyrtec and Benadryl. Ask your vet the best way to dispense this medicine to your pet so you don’t risk giving him too much.
If your dog’s skin is in contact with something he is allergic to, he may develop itchiness, irritation, and redness. You may notice a flare-up on your dog’s skin in the spot that he came into contact with the trigger. Your dog may be allergic to a certain type of bedding, and when he lays down on it, his belly might turn red. Perhaps he gets itchy after you give him a bath with a certain type of shampoo.
You’ll need to figure out the cause of the contact allergy. See if you notice when his flare-ups are occurring. Maybe he’s always itchy after walking past a certain plant in your garden, or after you give him a bath. You’ll need to steer clear of these allergens. If the shampoo is a problem, switch to a homemade oatmeal shampoo or get one that’s for dogs with sensitive skin. The more natural the dog shampoo, the better.
What to Do When You Spot Allergy Symptoms
If you notice any of the mentioned symptoms, the first step is to get your dog to the vet, who will give you the best advice on what to do to treat symptoms and ensure they go away. Some allergies never go away and can only be treated with medicine. Getting rid of whatever is irritating your pup can eliminate other allergies, like contact and food allergies. You can simply change your dog’s food, ensure he doesn’t walk by a certain plant, keep your house clean, or rid their environment of whatever allergens are causing their issues.
Leaning toward the natural side and opting for food, treats, and supplements with less synthetic ingredients and cleaners with fewer harsh chemicals will be helpful in staving off allergies as well.
It can be scary to see your dog experiencing these symptoms, but by paying attention to your pup and making easy changes, you can make sure he will be healthy again in no time. All it starts with is a little education and a lot of love.
Camille is a co-founder of PetHonesty and VP of Pup Parent Education. After watching her own family dog suffer from joint issues for years she became passionate about improving dogs’ quality of life. With the help of a team of veterinarians and dog nutritionists she now helps educate other dog owners about the small but powerful things they can do to positively impact their dogs’ health and wellness! She lives in Austin, TX and loves cuddling puppies, being outside and reading.