Puppy Allergies

Even if allergies typically occur in dogs over the age of 3, puppy allergies may also be present. Puppies develop food allergies more frequently than inhalant allergies. The allergies occur as a response of the immune system to diverse irritants, causing the allergy symptoms.

Causes of Puppy Allergies

Puppies rarely develop allergies; however, puppies that have allergies are over the age of 8 weeks. About 80% of the allergies in puppies are caused by food and different ingredients such as beef, corn, soy, chicken, wheat, flour or certain additives and preservatives.

Other irritants include different substances that are inhaled by the dog:

  • Pollens
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Smoke

The puppy may develop allergies to the materials he comes in contact with: the bedding or the food and water bowls. Shampoos or powders may also cause skin irritation.

Symptoms of Allergies in Puppies

Puppies will present allergy symptoms that are similar to the allergies in adult dogs:

  • Constant sneezing, however, isolated episodes of sneezing do not necessarily point to allergies
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Itching
  • Excessive scratching
  • Chewing and licking of the areas affected by itchiness
  • Rashes on skin
  • Swelling of the face or limbs

These symptoms occur when the irritant is present and may persist even after the irritant is removed; food allergies will be present symptoms 2 to 3 days after the ingestion of the culprit ingredient.

Diagnosing Puppy Allergies

Given that puppy allergies are rare, your vet will rule out other conditions that may present the same symptoms as allergies, including respiratory infections, sarcoptic mange or parasites.

The vet will perform some blood tests or do a skin testing analysis. During the skin testing, the vet will inject common allergens and will observe the puppy’s reaction; if the puppy is allergic to a substance, a skin irritation will occur a few hours after the injection.

The blood tests may reveal allergen antigens present in the puppy’s blood flow.

Food allergies can only be detected through food trials. During the trials, your puppy will receive a diet that is based on two main ingredients: a source of proteins and a fiber. Such a diet must be kept for 2 weeks and the puppy must be monitored for negative reactions; if the puppy is not allergic to the food, there will be no allergic reactions, so a different diet must be administered. The food trials will be continued until the culprit ingredient is discovered.

Treatment for Allergies in Puppies

Typically, puppies get a low dose of steroids or antihistamines to control the allergy symptoms. The steroids (i.e. Prednisone) will relieve the itchiness and reduce the rashes and the swelling; however, they will not prevent future allergic episodes.

If the puppy is allergic to food, the allergen should be eliminated and the puppy should get a prescription food.

Allergy shots may also be administered if the puppy suffers from inhalant allergies; in time, the puppy should develop resistance of the allergen and will have no more allergy symptoms.