Allergies in Dogs

Allergies in dogs may be unpleasant and need veterinary attention. There are several types of allergies, according to the cause:

  • Food allergies
  • Skin parasite allergies
  • Bacteria allergies
  • Contact allergies
  • Atopy (inhalant allergy)

Symptoms of Allergies

All types of allergies present the same symptoms:

  • Skin itchiness
  • Redness
  • Dry skin
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive licking, scratching and chewing of itchy areas
  • Difficulty in breathing

Some symptoms are seasonal and some are permanent, according to the presence of the allergens in the dog’s environment.


Atopy is also known as inhalant allergy and may be caused by airborne allergens. Atopy is the most common dog allergy.

Dogs may be allergic to different environmental factors: smoke, dust mites, household chemicals, dander, feathers or seasonal pollens.

Atopy may be diagnosed through skin testing or blood testing. Intradermal skin testing is the most efficient way to diagnose inhalant allergies. Some of the suspected allergens are injected under your pet’s skin. If one of the injected allergen will cause irritations on the dog’s skin, the allergen is isolated.

Allergy vaccines may be produced using the allergens; these vaccines will build up the dog’s immunity to the allergen. However, the allergy shots will be efficient only after a few months of therapy.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are common in dogs and dogs are allergic to ordinary ingredients in commercial canine food. The most common ingredients that cause irritations in dogs are beef, corn, chicken, pork, seafood, soy, grains or dairy products.

Food allergies may be detected through food trials. The dog may receive a new diet based on a few ingredients only. Alternatively you may eliminate an ingredient at a time from his present diet. The dog’s reactions need to be monitored. Skin testing is not an accurate test for food allergies.

The allergen must be eliminated for good from the dog’s diet. Your dog may need prescription diet for the rest of his life.

Parasite Allergies

The most common parasite allergies are flea allergies. The allergic reaction is caused by the saliva of the flea. The allergy may be easily diagnosed by checking for fleas. Fleas are small, but visible. Eliminate the fleas and prevent their re-occurrence with flea collars and proper dog hygiene.

Bacteria Allergies

The Staph bacteria may cause an allergic reaction on the dog’s skin. The Staph bacteria may lead to:

  • Crusts
  • Bald patches due to excessive scratching
  • Infections that need antibiotic treatment

Contact Allergies

Contact allergies are rare, but dogs may develop allergic reactions when touching different materials. Common allergens are plastic, flea collars, wool or synthetic materials. You need to remove the allergen and opt for natural materials for the dog’s bedding and clothes.

Antihistamines and corticosteroids are efficient short term treatment options for allergies. Use some cortisone creams to relieve the itchiness or flea shampoos to get rid of parasites.

However, it is important to reduce your dog’s exposure to the allergens and get allergy shots as soon as you identify the allergen.