Are you tired of your dog itching, scratching, and losing hair?

You’re not alone. Dog allergies are a real problem and more common than you think.

Over 20% of our furry pals have allergies, which can be an absolute nightmare if you don’t know how to help your pet. 

Let’s find out what pup allergies are and what you can do if your dog has one. We’ll cover everything you need to know about:

Allergies in Dogs

Our pups mean the world to us, so it’s pretty upsetting when they’re not 100% healthy. But what about a chronic issue like an allergy?

While the allergies can range from mild to severe, the first step is understanding what they are. 

What’s an Allergy?

The immune system prevents our dogs and us from getting diseases and infections. Unfortunately, if a dog’s overexposed to a substance it’s allergic to, the immune system overreacts, causing an allergic reaction.

Allergies are the number one cause of illness for US children, whether they’re due to food, pollen, or dust. And it’s the same for our pups. The only difference is that animals have no way of telling us there’s a problem. Still, you can look out for the telltale signs that we mention below.

How Common Are Allergies in Dogs?

They’re pretty common and usually don’t discriminate against any breed. 

When your pup is six months old, you could see the early signs of an allergy. If that’s the case, know that it’ll be the worst between their first and second year. 

The most common dog allergies are environmental, food, and flea. These will affect at least 20% of pups at some point. Food is responsible for 10% of them, so keep an eye out for the symptoms.

Are Allergies Inherited?

Canine atopic dermatitis (skin reaction) is an inherited condition caused by overexposure to everyday substances.

It might sound a bit weird, but if the immune system can’t process the substance on the skin and it’s constantly introduced to it, then it’ll react by defending your pup’s body.

Surprisingly, the most mundane things, like grass or even dirt from the garden, can trigger it. To get a better understanding, let’s dive a little deeper into the various allergy types. 

Bowl of dog food with two white dog paws next to it

Types of Dog Allergies

Since allergies come in many forms, your dog’s reaction might not be easy to define. 

Dog Skin Allergies

The most common way to spot your pup’s allergic reaction is by closely examining the skin, as canines have a much higher count of histamine-releasing cells there.

So, whether your furry friend is allergic to skin pollutants or its body can’t handle some food well, it’ll likely show up on the skin. That’s why establishing dog allergy causes is a real challenge. 

Flea Allergies

This one comes at the top of the potential dog allergies list.

Fleas and their eggs are an absolute nightmare for pet owners. Once you see an adult flea, it’s already too late, and you have an infestation in your home and on your pet.

Pups are allergic to the proteins released from a flea bite. You might not see the flea because they stay attached only for feeding, but one bite can cause a severe reaction, leaving some dogs itching like their life depends on it. 

Seasonal/Environmental Allergies

Most of us have been there. As soon as a new season approaches, it comes with an itchy nose, difficulty breathing, and red eyes. But we’re not the only ones that suffer.

Unfortunately, dog seasonal allergies are the hardest to deal with simply because we don’t control the weather.

We’ll get to the symptoms in the next section. Meanwhile, you should rule out other common allergy signs. 

Dog Food Allergies

We rarely second guess the massive role food plays in our dog’s life.

Because you feed it every day, and usually at the same time, the constant exposure to the same proteins and grains can cause a sudden unwanted reaction.

Common dog food allergies can stem from proteins (beef, dairy, eggs, lamb, pork, and chicken), grains (wheat), and other additives like flavoring.

Acute Allergic Reactions

The most common reaction is usually mild. Still, some pups may get a severe reaction, and you should know how to handle it. 

You may have heard of anaphylaxis, meaning a severe allergic reaction. In such cases, it can go from a simple rash to difficulty breathing in minutes.  

Acute reactions come rapidly, and you’ll usually see the culprit (an insect sting or bug bite). You need to respond quickly by getting your pet to a vet as soon as possible to avoid life-threatening symptoms.

Small dog being held while vet looks in its ears

Symptoms of Dog Allergies

So, what are some common allergy symptoms you should look out for?

Skin Allergy Signs —  Dermatitis in Dogs

Many substances may cause your pup irritations, but skin allergies look pretty specific.

Your pup might chew, rub, lick, scratch, or bite their ears, armpits, flanks, or feet. If you see it licking its paws excessively, that’s another common sign. So, with all this attention, the skin might look dry or oily, depending on your breed. A dog allergies rash is also typical, specifically on the belly. 

Reoccurring ear infections are also a massive symptom. As a response to the allergen, ear glands can become inflamed, hot, and very sore. 

If you’re unsure what an ear infection looks like, a pup will usually rub its face on the carpet, causing the ears to become raw. In acute infections, you might find pus inside. 

Flea Symptoms

So, we know our pups aren’t allergic to fleas but rather to the saliva left by a feeding parasite. Interestingly, flea-ridden dogs usually don’t have this allergy. It’s typical for the ones not used to the proteins. 

One bite can cause your dog allergy symptoms for up to seven days, including severe itching and hair loss within the flea triangle — the back middle, the base of the tail, and down the legs.

Whether it’s an outdoor or indoor pet, you need to protect your furry pal from fleas.

Seasonal/Environmental Allergy Symptoms

Dog allergy symptoms can vary dramatically, especially when it comes to seasonal allergies with many triggers.

If your pup inhales the allergen, its body will react the same way yours will — with a runny nose and sneezing. But these could also be signs of something more sinister, so be sure to talk with your vet about it.

So, when an allergen absorbs through the skin, it causes the same reaction as a typical skin allergy. Now, do you see why it’s challenging to distinguish between different allergies and their causes? 

Dog eye allergies might also be due to environmental allergens, but it’s best to seek professional advice. Anything involving your dog’s eyes is a reason to see the vet. 

Signs of Food Allergies in Dogs

Food allergies have pretty much the same symptoms as seasonal allergies, except for one massive difference. 

That difference includes GI symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or increased daily bowel movements. It’s a way for the dog’s body to get the allergen out of its system as quickly as possible.

So, if you notice Spike going for a number two more than usual, consider a vet visit. 

Dog Allergic Reaction Symptoms

Sometimes it’s quite literally a life or death situation.

You should look out for hives, sudden onset of scratching, a swollen face, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.

Your pup could have one or all of these symptoms. That said, if the latter happens, get to your vet immediately, as this isn’t a wait-and-see situation. 

It can all go downhill within a few minutes, and you need to know how to respond. We’ll get to that in a minute.  

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Allergies

As you might have figured out by now, diagnosing allergies poses a real challenge. Reading all the possible causes might make your head spin.

Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs

It’s simply impossible to test for every little thing that could cause a reaction. That’s why many vets don’t even recommend dog tests for allergies, except for the seasonal ones, since those are the only medical tests available. 

But if you want to find out more than that, at-home dog allergy tests could be the start of eliminating some allergens. 

How Are Seasonal Allergies Diagnosed?

Dog allergies symptoms can vary a lot because it depends on how they got into your pup’s body. Luckily, at least there are skin tests to help diagnose seasonal allergies. 

But know that your vet will eliminate all other suspicious causes first, as these tests are costly and form part of extensive immunotherapy treatment

How to Diagnose Food Allergies in Dogs 

First, speak to your vet. They’ll know what to look out for and the telltale signs that could be an issue. 

If your vet suspects an allergy, prepare to be a very diligent owner for up to six months during the food elimination test

And that’s one of the easier ways to look for signs of allergies in dogs.

Your vet will help you through the process. You’ll give your pup food that has none of its food’s usual protein or grains to eliminate that as an allergy.

So, in case your four-legged friend resumes its usual food, and the reaction comes back, you’ll know what’s the culprit.

You can’t stray away from the plan. Sadly, your dog will have to manage without treats for a while.

Bowl with aloe Vera extract and two aloe plants next to it

How to Treat Dog Allergies

You have different options for treating dog allergies, whether we’re talking about a prescribed or home remedy. Here’s what you should know.

Prescribed

It’s a dog allergies treatment that comes from the vet.

Flea Allergies

Prevention is better than cure. Make sure to de-flea all your animals and keep up with the regime. If your pup gets a bite that causes a reaction, seek your vet’s advice as the scratching from flea allergies is unbearable.

Vets recommend a range of medicines for dog allergies like topical, oral, or injectable treatment to relieve the itching. 

Immunotherapy is another option. That’s when the vet takes a small amount of the allergen and injects it right under your pup’s skin, slowly increasing the dose. Though expensive, it boasts a 60%–80% success rate.

Food Allergies

Food allergies in dogs can be a bit tricky because you need to find the culprit. That’s why vets recommend the food elimination test.

You can find hypoallergenic dog food, like the Wellness grain-free option, that doesn’t contain the main allergy-prone ingredients. But deciding on the best dog food for allergies can be a challenge on its own.

Hydrolyzed protein food is also an alternative. It contains a tiny amount of the allergy-causing ingredient that won’t evoke a reaction. 

Bathe Your Dog Regularly

Regular cleaning is essential for alleviating your dog’s allergy. 

Dog owners often wonder how much bathing their pups need. But the answer isn’t that simple as it depends on the breed, along with all your pet’s allergies and sensitivities.

In any case, your vet can advise you on the right dog shampoo for allergies to help remove irritants off the skin and treat itching and rashes. You can still get a tried and tested brand, like the Burt’s Bees natural hypoallergenic dog shampoo.

At-Home Treatments

While seeing your vet remains the best option, you can try a few treatments at home, too.

Home Remedies for Dog Skin Allergies WithItching

Oat Baths: Boil oat straws and mix them into your pup’s bath to help with the itching. Oats are one of the most popular natural remedies for dog allergies but don’t use them if your pet has a yeast infection.

Thyme: Rub dry or fresh thyme on the affected areas, and don’t forget to go between the toes.

Aloe Vera: While the plant contains some toxic ingredients you should avoid, products like the ResQ Organics skin treatment work wonders when applied on affected areas. 

Baking Soda: It’s an excellent home remedy for dry and inflamed skin. Mix 50% baking soda with 50% water into a paste. Then, apply to the skin and wash it off after about 30 minutes. 

Can I Give My Dog Benadryl for Allergies?

You might have heard this before, and it helps. Benadryl is perfectly safe for your allergy-prone pup with a dosage of one milligram per pound of body weight.

Still, it’s always good to check with your vet before giving your pet any medication.

Pick the Right Dog Bed

Dog skin allergies treatment isn’t just about what’s in the air and food. Where your pup spends most of its time also matters a lot. 

The dog bed can be a sacred space, so you want to make sure it’s safe and comfy. If your dog has an allergy, look for an orthopedic option, like the Furhaven, that’s made from medical-grade foam and has good air circulation. It’s great for the joints, too.

Food as Dog Allergies Remedy

Many parents of allergy-prone pets are forced to try various foods to find what helps their animal companions.

But have you ever thought of making your own? Home-made, high-fiber dog food is a great alternative to look into.

Allergy Supplements

With so many options on the market, you’ll want to find a supplement containing omega fatty acids and other natural ingredients, like apple cider vinegar. One option is the Zesty Paws allergy immune supplement for dogs that includes fish oils, prebiotics, and colostrum. Plus, it comes in a convenient chewable form.

How to Get Rid of Dog Allergies — Cleaning

Since inhalants like pollen and dirt make allergies worse, cleaning can help you keep them out of your home. 

Vacuum, dust, and use a humidifier regularly to ensure a safe environment for an allergy-prone pet. 

How to Prevent an Allergic Reaction?

Here’s what you can do to prevent dog allergies:

  • Stay on top of cleaning.
  • Keep risky items out of your pup’s reach.
  • Don’t wait to see the vet. If you suspect something isn’t right, make an appointment.
  • Learn what to do in an emergency.
  • Try to avoid dusty areas.
  • Wash your dog if it’s dirty after a walk. Don’t let it go on the bed or other surfaces.

Wrap Up

Since allergies in dogs are common, you need to know what to do if your furry friend has one. 

They come in many forms — from dust and pollen to fleas and food. Besides, symptoms can vary dramatically, but you’ll usually spot them on the skin, with itching and dry spots, or as a tummy issue. Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening, so keep an eye out for drooling, swelling, vomiting, or difficulty breathing.

Diagnosing dog allergies is possibly the most challenging part, so it’s vital to speak and listen to your vet if you have any suspicions. Depending on your pup’s allergy severity, treatments range from home remedies to prescribed oral or topical treatments.  

We hope this information will help you handle your dog’s allergy in the best way possible.  

FAQ

Can dogs be allergic to cats?

Yes, it’s pretty rare, but your pup and kitty can be allergic to each other. The symptoms will look similar to a human allergic reaction to a dog — coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes. That could also include itching, licking, and skin changes. 

Does my dog have allergies?

It can be difficult to know for sure, but among the signs to look out for are itching skin, rashes, sneezing, an upset tummy, and hair loss. If environmental allergies are a concern, then you can try a skin test. Different allergies share many of the symptoms, so it can be challenging to figure them out. We recommend talking to your vet.

How can I help my dog with allergies?

First, do your best to figure out the cause. If it’s food, try the elimination test. Seasonal and environmental allergies can be difficult, but prevention is your first port of call. Make sure you vacuum and keep your pup out of dusty areas as much as possible.  

What are the most common dog allergies?

The most common food allergies include beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb, and soy. You can find these ingredients in most dog foods, so you’ll need to become an expert at reading the labels. Pollen and dust are also widespread, along with flea allergies.

When do dogs have seasonal allergies?

Dog allergies, especially seasonal ones, might appear at any time. But they can be more severe during the change of season when dust and pollen are everywhere. That’s why it’s difficult to know if it’s a specific allergen or simply dust being kicked up by the weather.

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Emma is a lover of all animals. Her cat Pumpkin enjoys stretching out in the office while mom researches the best information on how to care for their fellow furry friends. Emma’s passion for animals started at a young age. Back then, she dedicated her time to shelters and vet clinics in South Africa. Her enthusiasm for writing and research is behind the most reliable information for pet lovers. She believes in treating animals with the devotion and respect they deserve.