Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog
The Most Common Allergies In Dogs And What You Can Do To Avoid Them
Just as humans do, many dogs suffer from allergies that can cause an array of symptoms and secondary health problems. Dogs develop allergies to a wide range of allergens like food ingredients and pollen from plants and trees. Allergy symptoms present differently in dogs, though, and might confuse a well-meaning pet owner on the hunt for human-related symptoms like watery eyes and sneezes.
To better understand the common allergies among dogs, the team at the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic is here to provide more information and to help give your fur friend some relief.
What Is An Allergy?
Allergies develop when a substance or particle causes an overreaction of the immune system. This releases histamine and other chemical mediators as the body attempts to attack the allergen. The process results in clinical symptoms like excessive scratching, skin disorders, inflammation, changes in appetite, and secondary infections.
Top 4 Common Allergies In Dogs
Dogs develop allergies for a few reasons, some of which are genetic or based on their breed. Certain regions of the United States see more allergies because certain plants are in bloom year-round. Here are the four groups of allergies that your dog may experience:
- Flea allergy dermatitis
Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when a dog is bitten by fleas. This reaction causes skin inflammation, sores, fur loss, and other dermatological conditions. Flea bites contain compounds that cause your dog to itch and bite at the skin. Over time, it can create infections of the skin, ears, and elsewhere on the body. The tail base tends to be a commonly affected area.
- Seasonal or airborne allergies
This condition, also called atopic dermatitis, is when a dog or cat reacts to inhalants in the air, such as pollen. Seasonal allergies are a problem for both people and pets and cause a range of symptoms from chronic itching to puffy eyes and sneezing. This allergy is usually more prevalent in spring, but can be a problem throughout the year, depending on where you live, or if they are sensitive to indoor allergens.
- Food allergies
Food allergies in dogs are surprisingly common. Up to 10% of all allergies in dogs are caused by food. The ingredients responsible for these allergies are most commonly beef, chicken, fish, soy, wheat, and dairy. Food allergies can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and itchiness, as well as skin infections.
- Contact allergies
Dogs can also be reactive to an array of environmental allergies when they come into contact with them. Outdoors they may be allergic to ragweed, certain grasses, and plants. Inside they may react to chemicals used in carpet cleaning, laundry soap, household sprays, and other substances.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing an allergy can be a complicated process of assessing symptoms and eliminating potential allergens.
We diagnose food allergies with an elimination diet that excludes ingredients to see if any are causing an allergic reaction. This process takes 8 weeks or more, and we often find that pets are allergic to more than one food ingredient.
Treating an allergy can be as easy as removing the allergen, but it might also require a lengthier and more involved process. If necessary, your veterinarian will prescribe allergy medications to help reduce the symptoms and treat any secondary issues that result from allergies like hot spots, infection, or hair loss. We may also perform a skin test to identify and treat potential environmental allergens.
Many dogs can live comfortably with allergies once they have been diagnosed and treated. You can also bolster your pet’s immunity by feeding him a high-quality diet and helping them get plenty of exercise. If you would like information on common allergies in dogs, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (425) 742‑0342 or visit us online.