Dogs are an integral part of the family and love us unconditionally, so seeing our fur babies suffer from allergies can be heartbreaking.
It is common for people to get allergies, but surprisingly, various allergies can also affect our dogs.
Types of Allergies in Dogs
Dogs can be sensitive to many allergens, including skin, food, and the environment.
- Skin allergies – Skin allergies are also called allergic dermatitis, and can be caused by fleas, food or environmental allergens for example.
- Food allergies – Food allergies are different from food sensitivity or intolerance. A dog with food sensitivity or intolerance to particular foods does not promote an immune response, whereas a food allergy will.
- Environmental allergies – These seasonal allergies travel through the air and affect dogs through inhaling or coming into direct contact with skin, including the paws.
Most dog allergies are caused by specific things that may or may not trigger the dog’s immune response, but that will depend on the exact allergen.
Causes of Environmental Allergies in Dogs
Environmental allergies in dogs, also known as atopic dermatitis, can be caused by numerous airborne allergens such as trees, grass, weed pollen, dust, and mold. When our fur babies come in contact with these allergens, it triggers an allergic reaction. The antibodies in your dog’s immune system think these substances are dangerous regardless of whether they are or not, and the immune system is activated.
Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to environmental allergies, such as Beagles, Boxers, Bulldogs, Dalmations, Irish Setters, Shepherds, Retrievers, and Terriers.
Both food and environmental allergies have similar symptoms. Still, with food allergies, you can eliminate certain foods and eliminate the allergy, but it is not that simple with environmental allergies.
Signs and Symptoms of Environmental Allergies in Dogs
Environmental allergies are usually seasonal, occurring primarily in the spring and fall. A few of the more common symptoms include:
- Scratching and itching
- Chewing and licking of paws
- Runny eyes
- Ear infections
The face and feet are primary locations to look for any irritations. If you see your dog rubbing their face a lot, that could be a warning sign.
The skin may be reddened on some body parts due to chewing or scratching. Loss of fur can also occur due to excessive scratching. The ears can also become inflamed, which may lead to recurring ear infections.
Most skin allergies can lead to a secondary infection. When the dog scratches, licks, or bites at the skin, there is an increased risk of getting a yeast or bacterial infection that may require further treatment.
The signs typically start in dogs between 1 to 5 years of age. Regarding allergies, the difference between humans and dogs is that dogs don’t grow out of their allergies, so treatment is highly recommended.
Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
Before any treatment can be administered, diagnosing the specific type of allergy is vital. The veterinarian dermatologist may perform an intradermal allergy test to diagnose your dog for environmental allergies.
There are two basic methods for diagnosing allergies in dogs.
- Intradermal allergy testing is done by shaving a patch on your dog’s side and exposing it to common allergens. Approximately 60 allergens are injected into a small area of the dog’s skin on one side of the body.
- Blood allergy testing measures the dog’s antibody levels against specific allergens.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the proper treatment can then be given.
Treatment for Environmental Allergies in Dogs
You, as a pup parent, can do some things at home.
- After walking or being outside, try wiping your dog’s belly and paws with a clean cloth or a pet wipe to remove pollen and other allergens.
- Bathe your dog with pet allergy shampoos like soothing oatmeal, aloe, or one with medicated allergy-relieving ingredients.
- Keep your home clean and change your air filters regularly.
Consulting with your veterinarian about the best possible treatment to manage your dog’s allergies, including natural support options, may be highly beneficial.
We want our canine companions to live long and happy lives, and knowing the signs to look for when it comes to anything harmful such as environmental allergens, can help ensure that and give us the peace of mind we need.
We do not want our dogs to feel pain or discomfort because we love our dogs so much. Since our pups can’t tell us they are hurting, scheduling regular vet visits can be a comfort to us and beneficial in managing and enhancing your dog’s overall well-being.