Understanding Dog Allergies: Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatments

Wyndly Care Team
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What are the symptoms of an allergy to dogs?

Symptoms of a dog allergy include sneezing, runny nose, itchy, red or watering eyes, nasal congestion, frequent upward rubbing of the nose, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and in severe cases, hives or rash on the face or chest.

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Do Dogs Get Allergies?

Yes, dogs do get allergies and they can be triggered by various factors, just like in humans. These allergies can lead to a range of symptoms, from skin conditions to respiratory issues, which can significantly affect a dog’s quality of life.

Prevalence of Allergies in Dogs

Allergies in dogs are quite common. According to various studies, about 10% to 15% of dogs suffer from some form of allergy. Allergies can affect any breed of dog, but some breeds are more susceptible than others. These allergies can be caused by a variety of factors including food, environmental elements like pollen, and even other animals. However, just like with human allergies, a dog's allergic reactions can be managed effectively with the right treatment. For more detailed information on dog allergies, their causes, symptoms, and treatments, you can refer to this comprehensive guide.

What Triggers Allergies in Dogs?

Allergies in dogs are triggered by a variety of factors including environmental substances, certain foods, and even some materials found in their daily surroundings. These triggers, also known as allergens, cause the dog's immune system to overreact resulting in various symptoms.

Environmental allergens can include substances like pollen, mold, dust mites, and even some types of grass. Dogs can also be allergic to fleas, where even a single bite can cause severe reactions.

Certain foods can also trigger allergies in dogs. Often, it's not the food itself but specific components within the food such as proteins, dairy, wheat, or soy. Additionally, dogs can develop allergies to certain materials like fabrics or specific types of plastic often found in their toys or bedding.

It's crucial to identify the specific trigger for your dog's allergies to effectively manage and treat them. If you suspect your dog is suffering from allergies, it's important to consult with a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. For more detailed information on what triggers allergies in dogs, you can refer to this comprehensive guide.

What Are the Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?

Symptoms of allergies in dogs are diverse and can range from mild discomfort to severe reactions. The manifestation of these symptoms depends on the type of allergen and the intensity of the dog's immune response.

Common symptoms of allergies in dogs include skin irritation characterized by redness, itching, and inflammation. Dogs may also exhibit signs of discomfort such as excessive licking, scratching, or biting at certain areas on their body. More severe allergies may lead to skin infections due to incessant scratching and licking.

Respiratory symptoms may also occur, particularly with inhalant allergens. These can include coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. In some cases, dogs may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, especially with food allergies.

It's important to note that these symptoms can also be indicative of other health issues, so a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian is crucial. More detailed information about symptoms of dog allergies can be found here.

How to Diagnose Allergies in Dogs?

To diagnose allergies in dogs, veterinarians typically conduct a thorough physical examination and take a detailed medical history of the dog. They may also perform specific diagnostic tests based on the symptoms and suspected allergen type.

Skin tests can be used to identify environmental allergens. In this test, a small amount of an allergen is injected under the skin, and the reaction is observed. If an allergy exists, an immediate skin response, usually in the form of a small hive, will occur at the site of injection.

For suspected food allergies, an elimination diet may be recommended. This involves feeding the dog a strict diet of food that they have not eaten before and gradually reintroducing other foods to determine which one triggers an allergic reaction.

Blood tests may also be conducted, but these are generally less accurate compared to skin tests. These tests measure the amount of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in the dog's blood when exposed to specific allergens. However, a high IgE level doesn't always indicate an allergy, as dogs can have high antibody levels without showing symptoms.

Remember, it's always best to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has allergies, as they can provide the most accurate diagnosis and treatment options. If you're unsure, consider taking this dog allergy quiz to determine if your dog may have allergies. For more information about dog allergies, click here.

What Are the Treatment Options for Dogs with Allergies?

Treatment options for dogs with allergies range from avoidance of the allergen, medicinal treatments, to immunotherapy. Depending on the severity and type of allergy your dog has, the treatment approach may vary.


If possible, the simplest and most effective treatment option is to avoid the allergen altogether. However, this is not always feasible, especially when it comes to environmental allergens.

Medicinal Treatments

Medicinal treatments are often used to manage symptoms and provide temporary relief for your dog. These may include antihistamines, corticosteroids, or other medications prescribed by your veterinarian. However, it's important to remember that while these treatments can control symptoms, they do not address the root cause of the allergy.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy is a long-term treatment option that targets the root cause of the allergy. It involves administering small doses of the allergen under the dog's tongue to gradually build up their tolerance. Studies have shown that immunotherapy can be an effective treatment for dog allergies, although it may take several months to see significant improvements.

Remember, always consult with a veterinarian for the best treatment options for your dog's allergies. For more information about treating dog allergies, click here.

How Do Allergies Affect a Dog's Quality of Life?

Allergies can significantly impact a dog's quality of life, leading to discomfort, behavioral changes, and potentially secondary health issues. The degree to which this happens depends on the severity of the allergy and the effectiveness of the treatment plan.

Physical Discomfort

The primary impact of allergies in dogs is physical discomfort. Symptoms like itching, redness, and swelling can cause considerable distress. Dogs may scratch or lick excessively, leading to skin damage and potential infections. In addition, digestive issues associated with food allergies can lead to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies.

Behavioral Changes

Allergies can also lead to behavioral changes in dogs. An allergic dog may become irritable or lethargic due to persistent discomfort or lack of sleep caused by itching. This can affect the dog’s interactions with family members and other pets.

Secondary Health Issues

Persistent allergies can lead to secondary health issues like skin infections, ear infections, and respiratory problems. These complications can further degrade the dog’s quality of life and may require additional treatment.

Fortunately, with a proper diagnosis and effective treatment plan, most dogs can live comfortably despite their allergies. For more information, read here about hypoallergenic dog breeds and here for common myths about allergies.

Live Allergy-Free with Wyndly

If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dogs get seasonal allergies?

Yes, dogs can get seasonal allergies. Symptoms typically manifest as dermatological issues, such as itching, redness, and inflammation of the skin. They may also experience sneezing, watery eyes, and ear infections. These symptoms often arise during specific seasons due to environmental allergens.

How do you treat a dog with allergies?

Treating a dog with allergies usually involves several strategies: Firstly, avoid the allergen if possible. Secondly, use medications such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, or allergy shots. Lastly, consider hypoallergenic diets, and use skin soothing products to manage itching and inflammation. Always consult with a veterinarian for personalized advice.

How do dogs act when they are allergic to something?

Dogs with allergies might exhibit symptoms like excessive scratching, biting, or licking of skin, increased sneezing or coughing, watery eyes, and runny nose. They could also have ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in appetite. Swelling or hives may occur in severe cases.

How to figure out what your dog is allergic to?

Identifying a dog's allergies usually involves a process called elimination diet trials, where potential allergens are removed and reintroduced to observe any changes. A vet might also conduct blood tests or intradermal skin tests to detect specific allergies. Consult your vet for the best approach.

What is the most common cause of allergies in dogs?

The most common causes of allergies in dogs are environmental allergens like dust mites, grass, pollen, and mold spores. Other frequent triggers include certain foods, especially proteins like chicken, beef, and dairy, and flea bites. These sources can cause skin irritation, digestive issues, and respiratory distress.

What to do for a dog with allergies?

A dog with allergies should be evaluated by a vet to identify the allergen. Treatment may include antihistamines, corticosteroids, or allergy shots. Regular bathing can help remove allergens from the skin. Providing a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also alleviate symptoms.

How do you know if your dog has skin allergies?

If your dog has skin allergies, symptoms may include frequent scratching or licking, redness, inflamed skin, hair loss, and sores or scabs. Other signs include recurrent ear infections and changes in the skin, such as dark patches or wrinkles. Consult a vet for a diagnosis.

What allergy medicine is safe for dogs?

Several over-the-counter antihistamines are safe for dogs, including Benadryl (Diphenhydramine), Claritin (Loratadine), and Zyrtec (Cetirizine). However, dosage is crucial and varies based on your dog's size and health condition. Always consult with a vet before administering any medication to your pet.

What is the best thing for dog allergies?

The most effective solution for dog allergies is immunotherapy, such as allergy shots or sublingual tablets. This exposes your body to small doses of the allergen to build tolerance over time. Additionally, regular vacuuming, air purifiers, and hypoallergenic pet products can also help manage symptoms.

How do vets treat allergies in dogs?

Vets treat allergies in dogs through a combination of methods. These may include antihistamines, corticosteroids, or allergy shots to alleviate symptoms. They may also suggest changes in diet, use of hypoallergenic shampoos, and avoidance strategies for specific allergens, such as certain types of grass or food.

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