Did you know that, like you, your dog can get allergies? It’s true. Unfortunately, 1 in 10 dogs will develop some sort of allergy during its lifetime; and the longer they live, the more likely an allergy will develop.
Knowing this, it’s crucial that you’re aware of the most common allergies in dogs and their specific symptoms. Whether your dog suffers from seasonal allergies or food allergies, one of the only ways they will get better is if you identify the trigger and eliminate it from their environment. Armed with this information, you can take preventative measures or nip a growing problem in the bud. So, read on to find out more!
Most Common Allergies in Dogs
Naturally, you may not be sure how an allergy actually works, or whether its significantly different from humans to canines. They are, in fact, quite similar. According to Medical News Today,
Allergies are a very common overreaction of the immune system to usually harmless substances. When the body comes into contact with an allergen, the allergic reaction is not immediate. The immune system gradually builds up sensitivity to the substance before overreacting. The immune system needs time to recognize and remember the allergen. As it becomes sensitive to the substance, the immune system starts making antibodies to attack it. This process is called sensitization.
Although they’re rarely life threatening, allergies can cause your pup to feel serious discomfort and distress. Typically, allergies appear once the pet is six months of age, although most affected breeds are over two years old. Some can be inherited, having been passed down genetically from one generation to the next, while others develop due to sensitization. That said, the most common canine allergies are:
- Environmental Allergies – Just like people, dogs can suffer from year-round or seasonal allergies. There are dozens of environmental allergens that can trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. Examples of these allergens include:
Dogs who are suffering from environmental or seasonal allergies show symptoms such as:
- Chronic ear infections
- Lesions on paws
- Licking the anus
- Paw licking
- Red, inflamed skin
- Respiratory issues
- Skin infections
If you find out that your dog has seasonal allergies, you can take measures to reduce their impact. This could be anything from changing your walk times to periods when there is less pollen in the air or giving your dog a quick cleaning with doggy wipes after they’ve finished playing.
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis – This is the main cause of allergic reactions in dogs and is one of the most annoying skin problems they deal with since it causes them to itch uncontrollably. It might surprise you to discover that the reason for this itchiness is not caused by fleas biting, but rather the result of a dog’s inherent sensitivity to the antigens or proteins in the flea’s saliva that gets on their skin and causes severe inflammation and irritation. You should note that, according to VCA Hospitals:
FAD can develop at any age, but most cases of FAD appear between age two and five in most dogs. It is important to note that dogs with other forms of allergies, such as inhaled allergies (e.g., pollens, molds, dust mites), tend to be highly sensitive to flea bites, and are therefore much more susceptible to FAD than dogs that do not have other allergic conditions.
To determine whether or not you pup has fleas and flea allergies, a trip to the
vet will be necessary. There they can perform intradermal allergy tests and/or
IgE blood tests. From there, your vet will be able to prescribe your dog a flea control treatment to help alleviate his symptoms.
- Food Allergies – Although it is not a common occurrence, a select few dogs will develop food allergies during the course of their lifetime. Over the years, they develop a sensitization to certain elements of their diet and their body rejects them. That said, unlike people who typically have gastrointestinal symptoms to a food allergy, dogs will manifest a variety of signs and symptoms. Common symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:
- Ear infections
- Hot spots
- Itchy skin
- Lesions all over the body
- Skin infections
If you believe your dog does indeed have this type of allergy, don’t play detective by attempting to switch up their diet. People often do this with several different foods, which only causes more trouble. Instead, go see your vet and let them run a thorough diagnosis. In this case, your veterinarian will most likely recommend doing an elimination diet to see which food item is causing your dog’s body to react. Food allergies can be easily fixed as soon as you are able to uncover the trigger that is causing the immune response in your dog’s diet.
Common Dog Allergies
The three most common dog allergies are caused by inhalants, foods, or fleas. Quite often, the symptoms can be very similar. If you begin to notice skin irritation, itching, hair loss, chronic ear infections, sneezing, or other skin problems in your four-legged companion, it may mean that he’s suffering from an allergy. If you suspect that your dog has allergies, don’t wait to seek treatment. Unless you know exactly what to look for, it’s best to pay your veterinarian a visit and let them examine the dog for themselves.
From there, your vet will be able to give you a rundown on preventative measures and possible treatments for alleviating the uncomfortable symptoms in your furry friend.
- CNN. Pets, owners challenged by increasing allergies. https://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/26/pet.allergies/
- Medical News Today. Everything you need to know about allergies. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264419.php
- VCA. Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/allergy-flea-allergy-dermatitis-in-dogs
- Drake Center. Does your dog have allergies? Dog allergy testing. https://www.thedrakecenter.com/services/dogs/dog-allergies
Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis, DVM, WCHP-AH, brings over 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine. She is the Technical Services Veterinarian with Innovacyn, Inc., parent company of Vetericyn Animal Wellness. She received her DVM from Oklahoma State University and now resides in Southeast Kansas with her husband, two children, four dogs, and six horses. Prior to working with Innovacyn, Dr. Mayfield owned and operated the Animal Care Center in Columbus, KS.