What Every Dog Owner Should Know About Common Dog Allergies

common dog allergies

Have you noticed your dog itching a lot more lately? It may be a sign that your pup is suffering from common dog allergies. Our four-legged family members can suffer from allergies just like us. And, just like us, they’d probably rather not. By recognizing the symptoms, you can reach out to your veterinarian to discuss how to treat your dog’s allergies.

The Signs of Common Dog Allergies

Often, the easiest way to tell your dog is suffering from allergies is by his sudden, incessant scratching, but there are many symptoms. The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists the following symptoms of common dog allergies:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Constant licking

Additionally, Susan Wynn explains in Fetch by WebMD, “Anything from chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic diarrhea to chronic gas, licking their feet, or an itchy rear end” can be a sign of an allergy.

The Different Types of Common Dog Allergies

common dog allergies

Just as we can suffer from different types of allergies, so can our four-legged family members. Essentially, there are three different allergy groups: food allergies, skin allergies, and environmental allergies (which includes seasonal allergies).

Let’s start with food allergies. According to Susan Wynn, “Ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies. Dogs also can suffer from food intolerance, which is different from a food allergy.” Many times, dog owners mistakenly believe their dog has a food allergy when their dog is actually just suffering from food intolerance or food sensitivity.

AKC explains, “True food allergies result in an immune response, which can range in symptoms from skin conditions (hives, facial swelling, itchiness), gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhea) or a combination of both.”

In contrast, food sensitivities do not have an immune response with a developing reaction to an ingredient in the dog’s food. In other words, with a food allergy, the symptoms will appear very shortly after your dog eats the food, as opposed to your dog having an upset stomach after eating a few bowls of a new dog food.

Now, let’s discuss skin allergies, which are called allergic dermatitis. Skin allergies are the most common type of allergies for dogs, with fleas topping the list. According to VCA Hospitals, “Flea saliva is by far the most common insect allergen in dogs, causing flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Most dogs experience minor local irritation from flea bites. The FAD dog will react to a single bite with severe local itching.”

Additionally, skin allergies can occur as a result of food allergies or environmental allergies. If your dog is scratching or licking around his paws, allergies may be the cause.

Last, let’s talk about environmental allergies. Just as your allergies flare up during the fall and spring, so do your dog’s. AKC explains, “Environmental allergens, such as dust, pollen, and mold, can cause an atopic allergic reaction or atopic dermatitis. In most cases, these allergies are seasonal, so you may only notice your dog itching during certain times of the year.”

[Related Read: Dog Allergy Symptoms to Look for This Fall]

How to Determine If Your Dog Has Allergies

common dog allergies

While you can make an educated guess based on your dog’s symptoms, you really need the help of your local veterinarian to determine if your dog has allergies. For example, you may suspect a food allergy when it may simply be a food intolerance. Similarly, your veterinarian can help you determine a specific cause.

If your veterinarian believes your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, he or she will likely recommend an elimination diet for 12 weeks. Your dog will be put on a very strict diet of simple food and slowly reintroduced to other foods to see if there is a reaction. If there is a reaction, then it is determined the dog is allergic to this type of food.

Flea allergy dermatitis is able to be visibly identified. If your dog has fleas on his skin or flea bites, then it will be easy for your veterinarian to diagnose. The good news is that not only is this the easiest allergy to diagnose, but it is also simple to treat by applying flea protection.

Environmental allergies are harder to diagnose. Your veterinarian will ask about the environment and possibly perform skin testing.

The Types of Treatment for Common Dog Allergies

Ultimately, the most effective way to treat dog allergies is to avoid the cause. However, that is not always possible. If your veterinarian has determined your dog has allergies, he or she will likely recommend a treatment that helps eliminate the problem source (such as prescribing a type of food or using flea prevention). In addition to avoidance, your veterinarian may recommend using special shampoos or prescribe anti-inflammatory medications.

At Super Scoopers, our job is to help dog owners care for their dogs and their yards, but we aren’t medical experts. When in doubt, please contact your veterinarian. When you need your yard scooped, contact us.