Hives in Dogs

Hives in dogs is a skin condition that is also known as urticaria and develops due to certain allergens that are inhaled or penetrate the dog’s skin. The condition will cause bumps, itchiness and discomfort and can be treated using topical solutions or even oral medication, when needed. If the irritant is identified, the skin reaction can be prevented.

Causes of Dog Hives

Dog hives develop within 30 minutes after the dog is in contact with a particular irritant he is allergic to. The culprit irritants may include:

  • Smoke
  • Pollens and grasses
  • Food
  • Chemicals such as soaps, fragrances, cleaners, insecticides
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Insect bites
  • Drugs
  • Vaccines
  • Artificial fabrics

If your dog is allergic to any of these substances, the contact with these will cause the occurrence of urticaria. The reaction is visible on the skin and is due to the fact that the immune system produces a series of antibodies, known as the immunoglobulin E. These antibodies will cause the hives symptoms.

Symptoms of Hives in Dogs

The symptoms of hives will develop within half an hour after the dog has been exposed to the allergen. You may notice:

  • Raised, circular bumps
  • Raised hair in the affected areas
  • Itchiness, leading to scratching and agitation

These symptoms will typically disappear 24 hours after the allergen is no longer present.

Diagnosing Urticaria

Urticaria in dogs can be diagnosed only if you visit the vet before the symptoms disappear. The vet will be able to establish if the dog’s reaction is urticaria or the symptoms are due to a different condition. A blood test should reveal the presence of the immunoglobulin E if the dog is affected by hives. Intradermal testing can be performed to find the irritant.

Treatment Options for Urticaria in Dogs

The treatment of urticaria consists of topical treatment. The dog’s reaction will typically disappear once the irritant is removed, but in some cases, the irritant cannot be eliminated. The dog can receive corticosteroid creams, which will reduce the swelling and itchiness. For hives developed to food, you should detect the ingredient that is causing this reaction and look for a special diet that includes ingredients your dog tolerates. Antihistamines such as Benadryl may also be administered, especially if the reaction is severe. Oral cortisone is for extreme situations and should be administered if the reaction persists. A cool bath may soothe the skin and you can also use oatmeal rinses.

Preventing Hives in Dogs

The dog’s allergic reaction may be prevented if you find the irritant and make sure the dog is no longer exposed to it. You should monitor your dog and establish the substances he has been exposed to just before developing the skin reaction. However, certain irritants, like pollen, cannot be removed from the dog’s environment. In this case, you can clean the dog’s coat, which will reduce the amount of pollens that will be absorbed and use air purifiers in the house.