Dog allergies: What you need to know
Sneezing, itching, eyes streaming – if you suffer from allergies even reading those words could make you feel on edge. But what you might not know, is that your pup can suffer from allergies just like you can.
The difficulty with dog allergies is that they can be really hard for your vet to diagnose, and once diagnosed they often can’t be cured. Like people, dogs can have allergies to just about anything.
Different Types of Dog Allergies
There are three categories for dog allergies:
- Environment allergens
Flea allergy dermatitis
Bites from fleas are the leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs, as many dogs are hypersensitive to flea saliva.
Surprisingly, dogs don’t need to be visibly infested with fleas to experience severe allergy symptoms. You might not be able to notice fleas, but they could still be the culprit of your dog’s discomfort.
One bite could be enough to cause itchiness and hair loss, is these symptoms are focused on the base of the tail it strongly suggests fleas.
Despite what it may seem, allergic reactions to food ingredients actually aren’t as common as allergies to fleas or environmental issues. However, they’re still possible and can develop at any point - whether you have introduced a new food or your dog has been on the same kibble for years.
The symptoms are the same as most other allergies however can be combined with other issues like vomiting or diarrhea.
The most common triggers for dog food allergies are beef, dairy, chicken, and wheat – so if your dog is presenting some symptoms it’s worth exploring what’s in his food. Bear in mind that he could be allergic to more than one type of food.
Pollen, dust mites, food storage mites, and mold are all common allergies for dogs.
If your pup is licking and chewing his skin more often than usual, it could be the inflammation and itchiness caused by environmental allergies. Eyes can also become red and itchy. Certain breeds like spaniels and labradors are more susceptible to these kinds of allergies – but any dog can be affected.
Common symptoms of allergies in dogs
Diagnosing an allergy can be a frustrating and lengthy process as many allergies produce a lot of the same symptoms.
The primary symptom of allergies is itchiness. Your dog might rub his face against the carpet, his sides against walls, and scratch and gnaw at his skin. Itchiness can be focused on a particular location, although in more severe cases the whole body is affected.
Other common symptoms:
- Repetitive scratching, licking and chewing of the body
- Chronic skin and/or ear infections
- Head shaking
- Hair loss, hot spots, scabs, and other skin lesions.
How are dog allergies diagnosed?
It can be a long road to diagnosis for your dog’s allergies. Your vet will look into his age, breed, medical history, present condition, and any recent changes you might have made at home which will all impact what steps you will take.
If fleas are ruled out as the cause, your vet will run a number of tests potentially including:
- Fungal cultures for ringworm
- Skin cytology to diagnose yeast or bacterial infections
- Skin scrapings to identify mange mites
- Dog allergy testing with an intradermal skin test.
If your vet thinks that it’s a food allergy, you’ll need to do a diet trial at home.
If you suspect your pet might be suffering from an allergy, it’s best to speak to your vet sooner rather than later so that treatment can start. If it’s a food-related allergy we have a number of hypoallergenic foods and our in-house nutritionist, Sam, can help you find the right one for your furry friend.