What are some common dog allergies?

The most common dog allergies are flea, seasonal, food, insect-type allergy bites, like from bees, and contact allergies.

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

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

The health and well-being of your dog are impacted by just having uncomfortableness in their body. If you have allergies as a dog, typically, you might feel uncomfortable in your skin, and it may be uncomfortable and itchy. Sometimes there are even GI symptoms associated. So it's just about feeling comfortable. If you're not feeling comfortable in your own body, then you're going to have outward signs of discomfort.

What are some signs and symptoms of allergies and dogs?

The most common signs and symptoms of dog allergies are just itchiness in general. Itchy feet, bellies, armpits, and booties. They can also have some GI symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea. We also see upper respiratory symptoms, like itchy and watery eyes, mucoid drainage, sneezing, and sometimes coughing. If they have an insect bite, they might get swelling of the face, the muzzle, and the site that is bitten, like swelling of the feet around the skin.

Can I diagnose my dog's allergies at home?

Dr. Google can help you try, but dog allergies are fairly complicated because there are so many different allergies out there, like food, flea, and environmental. It sometimes takes quite a bit of investigation and questioning with the pet parent and just conversation and analysis to figure out what allergy your pet truly has. The diagnosis is really important because that's going to lead to the correct treatment, which is going to help alleviate those symptoms long-term and help better manage your pet.

How will a veterinarian diagnose allergies in my dog?

That's a great question. Diagnosis of allergies with a good thorough history from our pet parents. What's their lifestyle? Where do they spend most of their time? What nutrition are they eating? What are the primary ingredients in their nutrition? What flea and tick prevention are they on? Those are some of the general questions that we'll ask. Then we'll do our physical exam and investigate the pet's skin, respiratory tract, eyes, and booties. We're looking for those signs of allergies and the location of those allergies so that we can help better diagnose them.

How are dog allergies treated using anti-inflammatory therapy?

The number one reason pet parents usually bring their pets in for allergies is that they're typically extremely itchy. Itchiness in your pet causes a lot of uncomfortable activity because they're scratching at themselves and maybe shaking their ears, licking their feet, and sneezing. Those are things that are irritating to us because they're irritating your pet. That's a common reason that pets come in to seek medical attention. Anti-inflammatories traditionally will stop that itch and inflammatory cycle very quickly. Anti-inflammatories can include injections and orals, but that's just a small subset of the tools we have to treat pets with allergies.

How is shampoo therapy used for dog allergies?

Shampoo therapy is extremely important. We love a good shampoo. Why? It helps cleanse the skin of those allergens from the environment that may be causing them to be itchy. We will often use medicated shampoos to control some of the secondary problems that occur with allergies, which are bacterial infections and yeast infections. So shampoo therapy can help not only cleanse allergens off but also treat potential medical secondary issues that will come about with allergies.

What is hyposensitization or desensitization therapy for dog allergies?

Hyposensitization and desensitization are the fancy, big words that we use for trying to retrain the immune system to not over-respond to those allergens. We typically use those for seasonal allergy sufferers. The environmental allergies. Those therapies are given either as injections or as oral treatment. We're giving the actual allergens that the pet is allergic to. For example, if your pet's allergic to grass or tree pollen, we're going to be able to diagnose that through testing, and then we can make an injection or a serum for your pet to take. That's going to then help desensitize them from having an overreaction to that particular allergen.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Allergies - FAQs

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

How can you tell if my dog has allergies?

That's a challenging question. Dog allergies are complex. Complicated symptoms and complex histories come into play. Diagnosis is made through conversation with our clients, the history of their environment, what they're eating, what kind of healthcare they've had prior to coming to see us, and what flea and tick prevention they're on. There are going to be a lot of questions that we're going to ask, and we're going to have a lot of time investigating your actual pet during that diagnosis process.

How common are allergies in dogs?

Pretty common. That's one of the number one reasons we see canine patients. They're coming in with allergic-like symptoms. That includes itchy skin, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, maybe some hives, some GI problems, vomiting, and diarrhea. We often see those as presenting signs for a lot of our canine patients. Our pet parents bring them in, and these are the things that we hear. Oftentimes, we get to that diagnosis of allergies. Historically, I would say maybe 10 to 20% of our canine patients suffer from some type of allergy.

What is a contact allergy in dogs?

A contact allergy is when a dog is lying on maybe a surface that has something that they're reacting to. The most common would be a detergent or maybe a chemical that was sprayed in the environment. They're just laying on it for long periods of time, and their skin starts to have a reaction from being in contact with that allergen. It's not very common.

How can you tell if my dog has a food allergy?

Food allergies typically cause reactions in the skin. You would think that a common reaction from food would be GI-related, like vomiting or diarrhea, but only about 20% of dogs with food allergies will have GI symptoms. Oftentimes they have dermatologic or skin conditions, primarily itchy ears with maybe no infections at all, just itchy ears and booties. They might scooch or lick around their bottoms. Those are the two most common areas that we'll see canine food allergies and general itchiness of their body. It's difficult to diagnose dogs with food allergies. Of all the dogs that have allergies, only a very small subset truly have food allergies. So you really do need to work with your veterinarian very closely, and we often do nutrition trials to make that final diagnosis.

Do dogs suffer from seasonal allergies?

Yes, they are allergic to things through the different seasons. In spring, we have all the flowers blooming. We have all those grasses pollinating. In the summer, we have a lot of moisture and mold. Everything is still blooming out there. In the fall, we get the dying grasses and trees, and we have more mold. In wintertime, animals are coming in more, so there are indoor allergies to things that might be indoors. Seasonal allergies are the most common allergy that we see in our dog patients.

How are allergies in dogs different from allergies in humans?

People with allergies typically get upper respiratory symptoms and ocular issues, like itchy, watery eyes, runny noses, congestion, coughing, sneezing, and maybe some asthma in the lungs. Those are common areas of allergies in people. Dogs can also have respiratory and ocular allergies, but they more often get dermatologic or skin presentations, like itchiness, licking their feet, licking their bottoms, itchy armpits, and rubbing their faces. But feet licking is one of the more common areas of allergy presentation in dogs.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Allergies - FAQs 2

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

How will a veterinarian test my dog for allergies?

There are some tests that we have for allergies in dogs. When I think of dog allergy testing, I think about skin testing, which is done with little injections put all over their bodies by a dermatologist. We often send dogs for testing by a dermatologist to get a diagnosis. We also do blood tests. They're done less frequently than skin testing. We also have dog allergies that are related to food, so we'll do some tests through food trials.

How soon will I get the dog allergy test results?

It depends on what tests we do. If we're doing the injection test with allergens, you'll often have that diagnosis that same day of what the dog's allergens are. If we're doing a blood test, that may take us maybe a couple of weeks to get the results back. If we're doing a food trial, we often won't get results for eight to 12 weeks.

What are the common treatments for dog allergies?

It depends on the allergy. If we have a seasonal allergy sufferer, so environmental allergies, we'll often start treating them the day that we suspect they have that disease. Hopefully, if your dog is allergenic to things in the environment, we'll be able to get some relief for them within one to two days, sometimes within hours after we start our treatment. If it's a food allergy, it can often maybe a couple of months to see full results for those patients.

How are flea and insect bites on my dog treated?

Flea bites often go undetected by pet parents because pet parents don't always see those fleas. We know there are some common areas that they'll become affected, so if a dog has a flea bite allergy, they'll often get itchy over their rump, the back of their lower spines, tails, their thighs, and they'll get itchy ears. We look for those areas of itch. Oftentimes we'll spread the hair and really look at the skin, and we may see a flea running by. With a dark-haired pet, it's a little harder. We might use flea combs to find those fleas. We'll ask what type of flea and tick prevention your pet is on, and that will tell us if you're using a good product if you're applying it correctly, and how often are you applying it? If you're not applying anything or giving anything orally, then flea allergy is going to be on our list for what's causing your pet to be itchy.

What medicine is safe for dogs with allergies?

That's a big question. When I think of medications, I think of just simple antihistamines. Some over-the-counter Benadryl can be used, but it's often not very successful at helping reduce the symptoms. We also have a barrage of oral medications that have been developed for dogs and some injection therapy. We have a lot of hyposensitization treatments through a dermatologist. As far as food allergy goes, there are some wonderful diets that have been created that help us help your pet with food allergies. We'll often prescribe one of those diets for your pet. We have what we call a big toolbox of tools that we can use to help your pet feel better.

Can I give my dog Benadryl for allergies?

Benadryl is safe for pets. It is not uncommon for a pet parent to just get some over-the-counter Benadryl and try it on their pet. There is a very tiny subset of pets that have mild allergies, and Benadryl can help them, especially if they have some upper respiratory symptoms. When it comes to dermatologic or skin itchiness, Benadryl is often not going to help your pet at all. It's not going to really harm them, but it's unlikely to help them.

Are there any holistic options for dog allergies?

Holistic, for me, means more natural. What's more natural than just bathing your pet and using shampoo therapy to get off allergens. That's a very holistic approach. There are some topical treatments that can be used. You can find anti-itch sprays over the counter and herbal products. Shampooing can often be helpful. Some of the topical treatments, like topical antihistamines, a low corticosteroid, or even some tea tree, can help, but they aren't really that effective. It often takes your veterinarian to help get rid of that allergic itch and help them feel a lot better, faster.

Is there anything I need to do in my home environment for my dog's allergies?

Things within the environment that will cause allergies can be smoke. So if you're a smoker, you might want to consider going outside to smoke because the smoke will pollute and cause allergies and upper respiratory issues in pets. We see increases in dust pollen or dust mites from not vacuuming or having a lot of fabrics that need to be washed, so more frequent vacuuming can help. Don't forget to vacuum your furniture and your fabrics. Change your bedding over more frequently, especially if your pet sleeps with you. Perfumes and aerosolization candles can cause allergies. Those also release things within the air that can affect pets with allergies and make them worse. When you think about your environment and ways that you can help, whole house HEPA filters are also wonderful and even the standalone room ones. Change those litter boxes over and over, especially for cats with allergies. Again, talking with your veterinarian about your environment can show you things you can do to help reduce allergens at home.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.