Severe Allergies in Dogs

Allergies in dogs manifest through rashes, sneezing and itchiness. In rare cases dogs experience severe allergies which can be fatal, as the dog may not be able to breathe due to severe swelling of the air passages. Severe allergies can occur in sensitive dogs that have a weak immune system and the allergens may be various.

Causes of Severe Allergies in Dogs

Severe allergies occur very rarely and affect canines that have a malfunctioning immune system. The immune system will be irritated by different substances and factors that exist in the dog’s environment and cause the secretion of histamines which will lead to allergic reactions. The severity of the reactions will depend on how allergic the dog is to certain irritants.

A dog may be allergic to a wide variety of factors including pollens, dust mites, mold, household cleaners, perfumes, chemicals, paints or cigarette smoke, food and other materials the dog may touch (i.e. metals, fabrics).

Symptoms of Severe Allergies

The symptoms of allergies can range from mild to severe. The mildest symptoms will include itchy skin, skin rashes, flaky skin, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and sometimes coughing or panting.

The more severe allergy symptoms will include immediate reactions such as:

  • The swelling of the face and limbs
  • Grasping for air, due to the fact that the air ways are also severely swollen not allowing the dog to breathe
  • Pale gums and mucous membranes
  • Lethargy
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Coma

The severe allergy symptoms may also be known as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.

Detecting Severe Allergies

The severe allergies can be easily identified judging by the symptoms. Dog owners may not be able to tell what is wrong with the pet, as the onset of the symptoms is typically sudden and happens immediately after the exposure to the allergen.

However, a vet can immediately tell if the dog is having an anaphylactic shock.

After the allergies are controlled, the vet can perform a few tests to determine what causes the allergic reaction. You should also let the vet know if you suspect a food or other allergen.

Treatment and Management

If the dog experiences an anaphylactic shock he will require immediate help. The dog needs a dose of epinephrine, which is a substance that will reduce the swelling and allow the dog to breathe normally.

If the dog doesn’t get help, the allergies may be deadly, as the dog may choke due to the constricted air ways.

The allergen must be identified and avoided as much as possible.

Having a dog that develops anaphylaxis will mean that you need to carry an epinephrine shot or an epipen at hand at all times, so that to be able to administer it if the dog needs it.

Meanwhile, the dog may also receive antihistamines, allergy shots or steroids. The dog is very likely to be allergic to other factors in the environment, even if these won’t necessarily cause an anaphylactic shock.