Did you know that your dog can suffer from allergies just like you do? If not, you’re not alone. According to a recent report, more than half of pet owners aren’t aware that environmental allergens could make their furry friends feel miserable.
Just like people, canines can show allergic signs and symptoms when their immune system realizes that certain everyday substances are dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in many environments and harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies can have an extreme reaction to them when ingested, inhaled, or come into contact with the dog’s skin.
Breeds that seem to be especially prone to allergies include Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers, and flat-faced breeds including Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, and Pugs.
Types of Canine Allergies
There are two primary types of allergies in dogs, including food and environmental allergies. If your pet gets extremely itchy during the spring or fall, he is most likely reacting to seasonal environmental allergens. If his sensitivity continues year round, it may be caused by something more constant in his environment, or even possibly in his diet.
Signs and Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs
Unlike humans whose allergy symptoms typically only involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation, a condition known as allergic dermatitis.
If you notice your dog excessively scratching, chewing, or clawing at his body, he may be suffering from allergies. Hot spots can also develop on your dog’s body. These inflamed, infected skin areas happen when the dog’s natural bacteria overwhelm an area of his skin. The skin can appear bright red, and many times there will be hair loss and bleeding.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Sneezing, wheezing, and coughing
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Snoring that is caused by an inflamed throat
- Constant licking
- Ear infections
- A generalized redness in the eyes, oral tissue, chin, paws, and anus
- Yeast and skin infections
What Can Dogs Be Allergic To?
There are many environmental factors that can cause an allergic reaction in a dog. Some of these include:
- Mold spores
- Trees, weed, and grass pollens
- Dust and house dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Food ingredients
- Fleas and flea-control products
- Cleaning products
- Plastic and rubber material
Food Allergies in Canines
Your dog can also develop allergies to particular foods that he eats, though it may take some detective work to find out what substances are causing the allergic reaction. Common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs can include chronic ear infections, diarrhea and vomiting, and itchy or red skin.
What Should You Do if Your Dog Has Allergies?
If you notice that your dog has any of the aforementioned symptoms for an extended period of time, it’s important to get in touch with your vet so that they can make a proper diagnosis. This will require skin and blood tests or a special elimination diet to find out what exactly is causing the allergic reaction.
How Dog Allergies Are Diagnosed
If your dog’s allergic symptoms persist beyond the initial treatment of your vet, allergy testing by a vet dermatologist is typically warranted. These tests are similar to an intradermal test performed on humans.
To test for food allergies in dogs, you will feed him a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet over the course of 12 weeks. This also means not feeding him any treats, table foods, or flavored medications.
How to Treat Allergies in Dogs
The best methods for treating allergies in dogs is to remove the offending allergens from his environment. This includes flea prevention, cleaning your dog’s bedding to remove dust, weekly baths, an exclusive prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet, and other medication.
While allergies in dogs are not curable, with the proper methods and treatments, your pooch can live a normal, comfortable life free of allergy symptoms.