A Guide to Dog Allergies

A Guide to Dog Allergies 


Dog allergies can be extremely frustrating and worrying for both pet and owner. The severity of these allergies can vary greatly, with the most extreme cases being life-threatening.


Nevertheless, most dogs can continue living normal and happy lives if their condition is managed correctly. In this post, Pedigree explores the causes and signs of dog allergies.


What are the signs of dog allergies?


Dog allergy signs can vary greatly, but are often unpleasant for the pet. The most common symptom is itching of the skin. This can be all over the body or localised in certain areas – specific areas can be indicative of which allergens are responsible for the reaction. 


Other common dog allergy symptoms include:

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny discharge from around the mouth or nose
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Hives
  • Facial swelling
  • Excessive licking

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, they may be experiencing an allergy and you should contact a vet for further advice. 


In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur, which can lead to death. If you fear your dog is suffering one of these reactions, seek urgent help.


What Causes a Dog Allergy?


Just like humans, dogs can experience negative reactions to a huge number of allergens, including pollen, fleas, food, or even skin cells shed by other animals. Dog allergies are caused by oversensitivity of the immune system to these sorts of substances. While the immune system normally protects your dog, an overreaction can cause harm, resulting in the aforementioned dog allergy symptoms. 


Dog Allergies Caused by the Environment


As the name suggests, environmental allergens are found in the surrounding environment and include pollen, dust and mould. This makes them hard to avoid; however, many are seasonal. This means you may notice your dog is reacting more at certain times of the year.


The most common symptom is itching around the paws and ears, although it is not limited to these areas and other symptoms can also be present.


Dog Allergies Caused by Fleas


A common cause of allergic reactions in dogs is fleas. Tiny parasitic pests that live on your dog, fleas bite through their skin to drain and consume their blood. The allergen in this case is flea saliva, which is transferred as the pests feed on your dog. The resulting allergic reaction often makes dogs extremely itchy, especially at the base of their tail, and their skin may become inflamed as a result.  


If your dog has a flea infestation, allergic reactions are not the only possible negative effect. Treatment is essential, and you may want to consult a vet for further advice if you fear your pet has fleas.


Dog Allergies Caused by Food


It is possible for your dog to have an allergy to some types of food. Symptoms of this usually include itching, vomiting and diarrhoea. 


However, it is important to note that food intolerances are more common and are often mistaken for allergies. Food intolerances do not involve an immune response but are instead a physical reaction to a food not favoured by your dog’s body. 


Dog Allergy Treatment


It is important to consult a vet if you think your dog may be suffering with an allergy. Dog allergy symptoms never are enough indicative to enable easy diagnosis of the allergen and so a vet will normally need to carry out tests to make a proper diagnosis. 


Once the allergen is known, the best form of treatment is often simply avoiding it. For example, if your dog is allergic to a food, you should not feed it to them. If avoidance of the allergen is difficult, your vet may prescribe medication to help ease your dog’s symptoms.

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