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Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatments

Updated on March 27, 2013

Dog Allergies are Miserable


That insane scratching! Just watching your poor pooch try to deal with dog allergies can be heartbreaking. Dogs with allergies can scratch sores on their ears, necks and faces and can lick and chew wounds (hot spots) on their paws, bellies and tails. Sometimes, the biggest problem can be in determining that it’s an allergy that’s making Fido miserable. Once you determine that – you can take steps to sooth your poor pup.

Dog Allergy Categories

Many things can set off an allergic reaction in your dog, but there are four main categories.

  • · Dog Food Allergies
  • · Dog Inhalant Allergies
  • · Dog Contact Allergies
  • · Dog Parasite or Insect Bite Allergies

Dog food allergies can develop even after your dog has enjoyed the same food for years, which makes them especially hard to diagnose. Suspect a food allergy if your dog’s symptoms, which might include recurrent ear infections, face rubbing and paw licking do not follow a seasonal pattern. Specific diet trials are necessary to pinpoint what food is causing the problem.

Inhalant allergies include hay fever and airborne pollens and irritants that trigger allergic reactions in your dog. Key symptoms usually start with itchiness and become apparent when the dog is young. Paw licking and muzzle rubbing are common.

Contact allergies often produce reactions that come on suddenly. Your dog may scratch one or two spots exclusively. Do a little sleuthing. If your dog is scratching his underside mainly, he may be allergic to something he’s been laying on –the grass, the detergent you washed his bedding in – carpet cleaner. If he’s itchy all over, did you use a new dog shampoo?

Dog parasite allergies are caused by exposure to fleas, mites, ticks and other insects. Because they love to lay down and roll around where these tiny pests live, dogs are highly susceptible to picking up some unwanted guests. If your dog chews suddenly and madly at a spot on his leg or rump or yips and immediately scratches, fleas or another tiny pest might be the culprit.

Treating Dog Food Allergies

The only way to treat the symptoms of dog food allergies is by feeding your dog a novel dog food for a period of 6 to 8 weeks. Opt for an anti-allergy dog food or a limited ingredient dog food like sweet potatoes, fish, lamb and rice, or feed your dog a raw diet during the test period. Do not feed any commercial dog bones, treats or rawhides that he usually gets.

Figuring out what food is triggering your dog’s allergies can be a long and painful process for both of you, but consistency is key.

Treating Inhalant Allergies

Treating inhalant allergies requires keeping your dog indoors during periods when pollen count is high, especially when the wind is blowing. Take advantage of after-rain walks with your dog. The rain temporarily removes many airborne allergens and lets you and your pooch play freely for a while. Bathe your dog in a cool tub of water. Add a handful of dry oatmeal that you’ve ground to a powder in your blender and massage the water through his fur to ease the irritation.

Ask your vet about giving your dog fatty acid supplements and antihistamines to relieve his pain and itch. Dogs can take Benedryl, but your vet should prescribe the dosage, based on your dog’s weight. A typical dosage is about 25mg per 50 pounds of dog body weight, administered every 6 hours.

Ask About Natural Solutions

Treating Contact Allergies

Antihistamines at the dosage rate suggested above can help alleviate your dog’s contact allergy symptoms, but for long-term relief you must remove the irritant from your dog’s environment. Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent to wash his bedding and don’t sprinkle aromatic carpet powders on rugs where your dog sleeps. Some puppies develop red bumps and rashes on the tender skin of their tummies from exposure to grass and weeds.

Benadryl can ease the allergy symptoms, but keep an eye on your pup’s tummy. A secondary infection can develop quickly, resulting in large pustules. Keep your dog off the grass for now. Usually, as the pup develops fur on his underside, he’s less likely to suffer from grass and weed contact.

When Fleas are the Problem

Treating Insect Bite Allergies

Your vet might prescribe a contact parasite treatment, like Frontline Plus or Advantage, but you must treat your dog’s environment to eradicate the pests. This might mean treating your entire house for fleas and all your other pets for mites. One of the safest treatments is the use of diatomaceous earth. This white powder is inexpensive and is safe to sprinkle on your dog’s bedding and even to give your dog internally.

Considerations and Warnings

Your dog can develop other conditions as a result of his dog allergies. Ear infections in dog’s are common and if they aren’t treated promptly, they can result in hearing loss. Check your dog’s ears. If they’re red, swollen, hot or if they’re caked with ear wax or smelly, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. The vet can instruct you on how to clean your dog’s ears at home to reduce damage from an ear infection and he’ll probably prescribe a round of antibiotics.

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      dogfond 4 years ago

      Very informative hub. A lot of owners are not aware that their pets can develop allergies.