Vet Blog

3 Types of Dog Allergies and Treatments

July 02, 2020

Dog allergies are more common than you might realize!

They can be allergic to many of the same things we are: pollens, mold, dust, insect bites, and even certain food ingredients. A dog's allergic reaction typically results in itchy, irritated skin, but vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon for food allergies. Furthermore, dogs can even develop acute allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock if they are sensitive to a certain allergen.

So, what kind of allergies do dogs get?

1. Skin Allergies

Skin allergies are the most common type of dog allergy in La Porte, TX. They cause allergic dermatitis, a skin condition that results in itchy, irritated skin. Types of skin allergies in dogs include:

  • Environmental allergens (pollens, dust, mold, etc.)
  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Food allergies

Environmental allergens cause a reaction when they come in contact with your pet's skin or are inhaled. Meanwhile, flea allergy dermatitis is a reaction to a flea bite. Even one flea bite can cause severe itching in sensitive pets, making flea prevention extra important for these pets.

For food allergies and sensitivities, itchy symptoms may also include vomiting and diarrhea.

2. Food Allergies for Dogs

True food allergies are actually quite rare-what many dogs experience is food sensitivity. Sensitivities develop over time as your dog is exposed to whatever the offending ingredient is. Food sensitivities can cause vomiting and diarrhea, or a skin condition similar to skin allergies like itchiness or chronic ear infections. The only way to diagnose food sensitivity is through a food elimination trial, where we place your pet on a bland, hypoallergenic diet for up to 12 weeks to relieve symptoms. Then, we'll introduce one ingredient at a time to determine which is causing the reaction. This is a long, drawn-out process, but your veterinarian will walk you through every step to ensure your pet gets the relief they deserve.

3. Acute Allergies

Acute allergies are severe reactions to an allergen, but luckily, they are rare in dogs. In an acute reaction, your dog could experience anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal if not treated. Some allergens that can cause anaphylactic shock in sensitive dogs include bee stings, vaccine reactions, and acute food allergies. Less severe, yet still acute, reactions include hives or swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyelids, or ears-all of which can usually be treated with an antihistamine from your veterinarian.

Recognizing and Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs

To help you recognize allergies in your pet, it's best to start with common dog allergy symptoms:

  • Red, irritated skin
  • Excessive scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Licking/chewing at paws
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Vomiting/diarrhea (in the case of a food allergy)
  • Itchy, runny eye

The trick with these symptoms is that all of them could be indicative of another condition. It's important that you take your dog to your veterinarian for them to run the necessary tests for an accurate diagnosis. Often, the first thing your vet will do is rule out any other conditions. Once other conditions are ruled out, it's possible to run an allergy test to see what exactly your pet is allergic to. This test is useful for environmental allergens like pollens, molds, and dust, but it cannot detect a food allergy. For food allergies, it will be necessary to place your pet on an elimination diet and then add in possible allergens one by one to see which your dog reacts to.

Treatments for Dog Allergies

Allergies cannot be cured, but they can be effectively managed. Common dog allergy treatments involve:

  • Steroids
  • Anti-itch medications
  • Avoidance of the allergen
  • Flea prevention (for flea allergy dermatitis)
  • Change in diet (for food intolerance)

Your veterinarian will work closely with you to determine the best allergy management option for your pet.