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Dog Allergies: Types, Tips and Treatments

White dog in grass, scratching.

Managing dog allergies can be a complex process, but there are several tips and treatments that can help keep your furry friend more comfortable. The key is to identify the cause of the allergy and take the appropriate steps to manage the symptoms.

Let’s explore how to manage dog allergies, by understand the different allergy types, identifying the problem source, recognizing their symptoms, simple prevention tips, and treatment options, as well as allergy medications for dogs.

 4 Types of Allergies

Like humans, dog allergies come in several forms depending on the allergen, how or where it was encountered and even breed type all play a role in the allergic reaction.

  • Food Allergies:

Food allergies and sensitivities can cause itchy skin, as well. The most common places dogs with food allergies itch are their ears and their paws, and this may be accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms. Most Common Dog Food Allergies: Beef, Dairy, Wheat, Eggs, Chicken, Lamb, Soy

Tip: Your vet may recommend a special diet that can help reduce allergy symptoms. This may involve feeding your dog hypoallergenic food or switching to a diet that is free from common allergens.

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis:

Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva. This makes affected dogs extremely itchy, especially at the base of the tail, and their skin may become red, inflamed, and scabbed. You may also notice signs of fleas, such as flea dirt, or even see the fleas themselves. This is the easiest allergy to identify. There are many flea and tick products that effectively protect your pet and prevent further flea infestation.

  • Environmental Allergens:

Environmental allergens, such as dust, pollen, and mold, can cause an atopic allergic reactions or atopic dermatitis. In most cases, these allergies are seasonal, so you may only notice your dog itching during certain times of the year. As with food allergies, the commonly affected areas are the paws and ears (but can also include the wrists, ankles, muzzle, underarms, groin, around the eyes, and in between the toes). All skin allergies pose the risk of secondary infection. As your dog scratches, bites, and licks at his skin, he risks opening his skin to yeast and bacterial infections that may require treatment.  Tip: Regularly clean your home to reduce the number of allergens in the environment. Vacuum frequently and wash your dog’s bedding and toys regularly. Using air filters or limiting your dog’s exposure to certain environments.

  • Contact Allergens

This type of allergy is when any substance that encounters your pets skin and causes an allergic reaction. This can be a result of a shampoo, skin/coat grooming treatment, or even certain fabrics such as a favorite blanket, pet bed or mat.

Identify the Allergen:

The first step in managing allergies in dogs is to identify the allergen. Common allergens include food, dust, pollen, and mold. You may need to work with your veterinarian to determine the source of the allergy. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. Your vet may recommend allergy testing or a diet change to help identify the source of the allergy. Another option to consider is using an at home allergy test kit. Allergy Test My Pet® is an easy-to-use pet sensitivity test to help discover the factors that may be affecting your dog’s wellness. It’s quick, easy, and completely painless and offers a custom analysis of over 100 food and environmental items that your dog may have sensitivities to.

 Dog Allergy Symptoms

Just like humans, dogs can experience a range of symptoms when they suffer from allergies. These symptoms can include:

  • Itching and scratching
  • Hot spots
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Ear or Skin infections

Even if you cannot eliminate the allergen, you can manage your dog’s symptoms. This may involve using antihistamines, corticosteroids, or other medications to relieve itching, inflammation, and other allergic reactions.  

Tips and Techniques to Prevent Allergies

Preventing allergies in dogs can be challenging, but there are some ways you can help to reduce the risk of your dog developing allergies.

Maintain a healthy diet

Feeding your dog, a healthy, balanced diet can help boost their immune system, which can reduce the risk of allergies.

Keep your dog clean

Regular baths and grooming can help reduce the risk of allergies in dogs by removing dirt, pollen, and other allergens from their skin and coat.

Control fleas and ticks

Fleas and ticks can be a major source of allergens for dogs. Keeping your dog on a flea and tick prevention medication can help reduce the risk of allergies.

Minimize exposure to allergens

If your dog has a known allergy, it’s important to minimize their exposure to the allergen as much as possible. For example, if your dog is allergic to pollen, you may need to keep them indoors during high pollen count days.

Allergy Treatments

While prevention is key when it comes to managing allergies in dogs, sometimes medication is necessary to manage symptoms. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine which medications your dog should take and proper dosage.  There are several allergy medications for dogs available on the market, including:

Apoquel

A medication that targets the itchiness associated with allergies. It works quickly and can provide relief within 24 hours. However, it does not address the underlying cause of the allergy.

Atopica

An immunosuppressant medication that can help reduce the severity of allergic reactions in dogs. It can take several weeks to start working, and it can have some side effects.

Prednisone

A steroid medication that can help reduce inflammation and itching associated with allergies. It is typically prescribed for short-term use as long-term use can lead to unwanted side-effects.  It is important to work with and follow your veterinarian’s instructions with prednisone and any other medication you give your dogs.

Allergy Takeaways

Remember that managing allergies in dogs can be a lifelong process, and there may be periods of trial and error as you find the best strategies for your pet. Non-medication methods such as regular grooming, minimizing exposure to known allergens, and feeding a healthy diet can also play a key role in managing your dog’s allergies. By being proactive and informed, along with patience, persistence, and the help of your veterinarian, you can help your dog feel more comfortable and live a happier, healthier.