Symtoms of Dog Hives

Dog hives are also known as urticaria and manifest through an allergic reaction immediately after the exposure to a specific allergen. The allergies will be visible on the skin of the dog and should disappear after 24 hours. The symptoms of dog hives should be recognized to detect possible allergens in your pet and to be able to avoid these in the future.

Symptoms of Dog Hives

If the dog develops hives, this is due to the fact that the immune system produces a few antibodies (i.e. IgE), an immunoglobulin that will cause swelling and skin reactions.

The symptoms of dog hives may include:

  • Bumps on the surface of the skin, with raised, circular look
  • Raised hair, caused by the bumps
  • Swelling of the skin, especially where the allergen has touched the skin
  • Dermatitis
  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling of the extremities and face
  • In rare cases, anaphylaxis and swelling of the respiratory tract, which will cause coughing, panting and should be handled immediately with an injection of epinephrine

The symptoms will develop within 30 minutes of the exposure to the culprit substance and rarely last more than 24 hours. If the symptoms are persistent, the dog may be allergic to an ingredient that is present in his daily diet.

You may be able to tell what causes the hives if you are present when the symptoms occur.

Causes of Dog Hives

Canine urticaria may develop as a consequence of:

  • Insect bites
  • Vaccinations and injections
  • Medications (i.e. antibiotics)
  • Detergents and other household chemicals
  • Food
  • Shampoos and pet products
  • Flea collars
  • Collars
  • Pollens
  • Dust mites

Once the allergen is isolated, the dog should no longer be exposed to it. This may not be possible in the case of pollens or dust, but may work well if the dog develops hives to certain drugs or chemicals.

Treating Hives

The symptoms of hives will disappear, typically after 24 hours, but the symptoms will be recurrent if the dog is constantly exposed to the allergen. If the allergen cannot be eliminated, the dog should get medication treatment.

Vets may recommend Benadryl, an drug that can be efficient in eliminating the hives symptoms. Other antihistamines (i.e. chlorpheniramine or diphenhydramine) may also be recommended or alternated with Benadryl.

Cortisone treatment can be used if the dog hives are severe and cause complex symptoms. For dogs with itchy skin, a topical cream with hydrocortisone can be the best treatment. Oral cortisone may be prescribed also, but it is not recommended as a long term treatment.

Allergy shots should be formulated and administered to strengthen the dog’s immune system and make it less sensitive to the culprit allergens.

Dogs that have hives due to food should get a hypoallergenic diet at first. After weeks of food trials, a more appropriate diet may be established.