Common Labrador Allergies

Labrador allergies are common and the causes of allergies may not be easily detected. Certain environmental substances called allergens or antigens trigger an abnormal reaction in the dog’s immune system. Labrador dogs are prone to developing allergic reactions. If you suspect that your dog has allergies you should see a vet as soon as possible.

Allergies in Canines

All dog breeds can develop allergies. The immune system overreacts to certain allergens such as house dust, fleas, chemicals, pollens, food or certain bacteria. The immune system will produce the “IgE” (immunoglobulin E). This is a protein that triggers the release of histamines (irritating chemicals) causing an itchy skin and other allergy symptoms.

Labradors and certain other breeds (e.g. Beagle, German Shepherd, Bull Terrier, Schnauzer) are more prone to skin allergies because they produce more IgE when compared to other breeds.

There are several types of allergies:

  • Food allergies
  • Flea allergies
  • Bacterial allergies
  • Contact allergies
  • Inhalant allergies, called also atopy

 Some symptoms that can indicate an allergic reaction are:

  • Scratching
  • Skin irritation
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Eye/Ear discharge
  • Hair loss

Inhalant Allergies (Atopy)

Atopy is frequent in Labrador dogs and can’t be avoided because the allergens are in the immediate environment of your dog (e.g. tree pollens, weed pollens, grass pollens, dust mites and mold). Atopy is treated according to the root cause. Your vet will recommend antihistamines such as Benadryl or omega-3 fatty acids, hypoallergenic shampoos and conditioners or small amounts of steroids (e.g. prednisone).

Dehumidifiers and air cleaners can be used to reduce the amount of dust and pollens in the dog’s environment.

Food Allergies

Around 10% of all the allergies found in Labrador dogs are caused by common food ingredients such as corn, soy, fish, chicken or beef. The best treatment is the elimination diet, which involves withdrawing various ingredients from the dog’s diet, until the irritant food is detected. A prescription diet may be necessary for your Lab.

Allergies to Parasites

Fleas also can cause skin allergy in your dog. The saliva of the fleas is the culprit allergen. The treatment includes flea treatment such as Advantage or Frontline or other topical ointments that have to be applied monthly on your pet’s neck. Allergy treatment may also be required until the fleas are eliminated, to manage the pet’s allergy symptoms.

Complication of Allergies

Labradors are prone to having an ear infection, which often accompanies allergies. There are some obvious symptoms of an ear infection:

  • Constant headshaking
  • Rubbing of the ear on the floor and furniture
  • Ear discharge and an unpleasant odor coming from the ears

The ear infection can be very painful and can lead to the loss of hearing. To avoid ear infections stemming from allergens you have to avoid the culprit allergens as much as possible and clean your dog’s ears regularly. A healthy ear is pale pink and has no odor. It is important to dry your dog’s ears after bathing. You may ask your vet for a cleaning solution or some ear drops.