Funny puppy preparing to sneeze while sitting in grass

Dog Allergies

We often think of humans as suffering from allergies due to having dogs as pets, but canines, themselves, are often on the receiving end of this unpleasant condition! In fact, allergies are prevalent among dogs and cause various uncomfortable symptoms. If your dog has allergies, they could suffer from severe itchy skin, vomiting, secondary skin infections, etc. And without treatment, their quality of life will suffer significantly.

If you are online searching for information about dog allergies, we’re glad you found us! Some sources are not always the most trustworthy resources, especially when something as important as your dog’s health is at stake. Your dog’s veterinarian is a much better source of information. At Veterinary Medical Center, we also understand the need for accurate online information, so we’re sharing our answers to some of the most common questions about dog allergies. If your dog needs a veterinarian in Union City, CA, we’d love to help. Schedule an appointment today by calling (510) 441-8500 or dropping us a line at [email protected].

How common are dog allergies?

Allergies are much more common in dogs than many people realize. Allergies are one of the primary issues we see in our canine patients, and they are becoming more and more prevalent. Patients present with various symptoms, but allergies are the underlying cause in many cases.

What are some common dog allergies?

Dogs can experience several different types of allergies, which can be challenging to manage. Like people, dogs’ sensitivity to specific allergens varies.

Common dog allergies include:

  • Flea allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Pollen allergies
  • Mold allergies
  • Contact allergies

Food allergies are some of the most common allergies in dogs. Protein sources (chicken, beef, or pork) are the most prevalent allergens in these situations.

How do allergies impact the health and well-being of my dog?

If you suffer from allergies, you know how miserable they make you. They aren’t much fun for your dog, either. Itchiness is a common symptom of allergies in dogs and often leads to hotspots due to constant scratching and chewing. Ear infections caused by allergies aren’t pleasant, either, and can cause further complications. While symptom severity varies from one patient to another, even mild allergies can make dogs uncomfortable and impact their overall health and quality of life.

What are some signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs?

Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms in your canine companion, many of which have numerous other potential causes. That’s why it’s so important to seek veterinary care when you notice something unusual with your furry family member.

Dog licking its fur.

The symptoms of allergies in dogs include:

  • Constant itching, scratching and chewing
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Frequent bowel movements and/or diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Recurrent skin infections
  • Hair loss
  • Runny eyes

Can I diagnose my dog's allergies at home?

While your dog’s symptoms may lead you to believe they have allergies, you cannot thoroughly diagnose the problem at home. Pinpointing precisely what allergens a dog is sensitive to is often challenging — even for us veterinarians. Depending on your dog’s symptoms and medical history, we may need to perform blood tests, saliva tests, or skin scrapes to reach a solid diagnosis. In the case of food allergies, we usually require a food elimination diet.

How will the veterinarian diagnose allergies in my dog?

As mentioned above, we may run various tests to diagnose allergies. In many cases, we also reach a diagnosis through exclusion. We start by performing a thorough physical exam to look for things that could easily rule out allergies, like fleas or ticks. The skin tells us a lot, so we’ll look closely for bacteria, yeast, and other common problems. We’ll also consider changing seasons, moving to a new area, changing food, and other factors that could easily trigger an allergic reaction.

Diagnosing allergies in dogs is like being a detective and solving a mystery in many ways. As veterinarians, our job is to put all the puzzle pieces together to figure out what’s going on and recommend a treatment protocol to ease the patient’s symptoms.

How are dog allergies treated using anti-inflammatory therapy?

We use a few different anti-inflammatory therapies to treat dog allergies. While steroid shots were the method of choice in the past, today’s anti-inflammatory medications, including Apoquel and Cytopoint, are safer and more effective.

Omega-3 fatty acids are another option. These supplements have natural anti-inflammatory properties, and they are available over the counter. They’re also very affordable. When administered according to your veterinarian’s instructions, they can help alleviate symptoms naturally.

How is shampoo therapy used for dog allergies?

Bathing your pup can help in some cases. Shampoo removes allergens, like dust, pollen, and grass, from dogs’ skin and coats. By eliminating the allergen, it prevents the allergic response. Many hypoallergenic shampoos also contain antibacterial and/or antifungal ingredients to help prevent and clear up secondary skin infections. Some also include colloidal oatmeal or hydrocortisone to soothe the skin and ease itchiness. Medicated shampoos can even treat skin infections that are resistant to antibiotics.

What is hyposensitization or desensitization therapy for dog allergies?

Hyposensitzation and desensitization therapy are better known as allergy shots. The process involves exposing the patient to small amounts of allergens to which they are sensitive. We do this either by injection or placing the substance under the tongue. The amount of allergen used is enough to trigger an immune response but not enough to cause a full-blown allergic reaction.

Over time, we gradually increase the allergen amount. This helps the patient build immunity against the allergen and eventually reduces allergy symptoms. While we typically cannot cure allergies, desensitization reduces symptoms and makes them more manageable.

For additional information about dog allergies, please reach out to us! Call (510) 441-8500 or email [email protected] to schedule an appointment for your canine companion. We’d be more than happy to help!