Dog allergies; cause and cure

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to stuff. Allergies are basically just reactions to something the body recognises as foreign.

There are two types; food and environmental. Food allergies are actually an increasingly common problem in dogs, and they can start at any age, even if the ingredients aren’t new to them.

Here are some tips on how to find out if your pooch has allergies, and what to do.


Symptoms of dog allergies

There are many symptoms, and they tend not to vary by breed or age. They include:

  • Hypersensitivity to touch
  • Excessive itching or licking
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Sneezing (reverse or outward)
  • Patches of dry or inflamed skin, or bald patches
  • Inflammation of the tongue, facial features or paws
  • Snoring (indicating inflamed throat tissue)
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Proneness to ear/skin/eye infections
  • General behaviour changes due to discomfort

If you notice your dog starting to itch when there is a change in season, they are probably reacting to seasonal and environmental allergens. If their symptoms continue throughout the year, it’s likely their reaction is caused from something in their immediate home surroundings, or their diet.

Common allergens in dogs

  • Flea/insect bites (and flea control products and insecticidal shampoo)
  • Food (literally anything from beef, dairy, wheat, chicken, pork, fish, corn, soybeans, rice)
  • Pollens from trees, weeds and grass
  • Dust
  • Household cleaning products
  • Prescription drugs being used to treat other ailments
  • Cigarette/vape smoke
  • Perfumes
  • Rubber and plastics

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How to treat allergies in dogs

The most effective way to treat allergies is to actually get rid of the offending allergens in their environment; prevention is always better than cure.

Environmental allergies:

Keep a diary of when symptoms occur; what were you doing immediately before? If you’ve been on a walk, it may be a pollen allergy. If you’ve given them a bath, it might be a reaction to one of the products you’ve used. If you have just sprayed perfume, smoked a cigarette.. etc etc.

If you can’t find a pattern, and still suspect it’s environmental, ensure you clean their bed once a week, and keep your house free as of dust as possible, avoiding any harsh chemicals. The PDSA provide some great advice here.

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In addition, a weekly bath can help alleviate itching, get rid of environmental allergens and clean pollen from your dog’s skin. It’s advisable to speak to your vet about the best medical shampoo, since frequent baths with the wrong products can dry your doggo’s skin out even more.

If problems persist your vet will be able to run tests on your pooch to detect what the allergy is, and if it’s an allergen which cannot be avoided in your dog’s day to day life, they can recommend the best course of action.

It might be one, or a combination of the following:

  • Anti-allergy injections which help your dog develop resistance to irritating agents in the air, in place of simply masking the itch.

  • Antihistamines designed for animals.

  • An immunomodulatory drug designed for animals.

  • Supplements e.g. those containing fatty acids can help alleviate itchy skin.

  • Medical grade shampoos and cleansing treatments.

  • Cortisone, as a very last resort.


Whatever your doggo is reacting to, it’s always worth going to the vet if you think it’s really bothering them or could cause long term physical or mental issues.

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