Staying Healthy

Signs that Your Dog May Have Allergies

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The most widespread allergy symptom that dogs manifest is scratching. Because constant scratching can result in open sores, raised welts, and even loss of hair, dog owners have to be careful when it comes to feeding and exposing their pets. Dog owners have to educate themselves about the symptoms and treatment options of dog allergy in order to keep their best friend as comfortable as possible.

Understanding the Basics

There are several types of allergies: the airborne, food, flea, and contact. All dogs are prone to one or a combination of these allergies. It usually affects them when they are a couple years of age; though some cases report that even dogs as young as five months have already suffered from it. Dogs that have been affected by allergies frequently suffer all throughout their lives, and the symptoms usually become worse as they age.

Common Allergy Symptoms

You should suspect your dog is having allergies if he relentlessly:

  1. Scratches his ears
  2. Licks or chews his feet or other parts of body
  3. Rubs his face against the floor or furniture
  4. Sneezes or has a runny nose
  5. Vomits or has diarrhea
  6. Coughs or wheezes
  7. Has a rash, pimples, bumps, or open sores
  8. Has a reddish hair discoloration on the paws or between his toes
  9. Has red or watery eyes
  10. Has ear infections

Diagnosing Dog Allergies

Once you suspect your dog is suffering from allergies, you should immediately see your vet. Veterinarians will oftentimes make a preliminary diagnosis as well as treatment plan based on several data. These include the season of the year when the dog manifest the most allergy symptoms, the specific body locations that are found to be the most itchy, and the response of the itches to particular medications such as shampoos, steroids, and antihistamines.

If the initial treatment plan does not offer your dog relief, your vet will likely recommend a more specific allergy testing. This procedure is commonly done either by taking a blood test or by performing intra-dermal skin testing. The blood tests are reliable for airborne allergy detection, but not as good when it comes to identifying food or contact allergies. Skin tests, nonetheless, are considered to be more accurate as it involves shaving a small patch of hair on the dog’s side, and then injecting a minimal amount of allergens underneath his skin.

Just like people, dogs can be allergic to a wide range of things like pollen and grasses, certain foods, even cats! Working closely with your vet to diagnose an allergy and treat it will make your dog much more comfortable.

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  1. Avatar Of Kristi



    We have a staffie mix that is allergic to everything under the sun. We had her allergy testing done and on amino therapy which worked for a little while then started to have adverse effects. She has been on prednisone time and time again and we do everything we can to limit the need to put her in steriods.
    My advice to all of you who have dogs with allergies would be to give your pup a bath once a week with special shampoo, keep the nails trimmed so they don’t scratch themselves so bad that they bleed.
    Look at the food your giving them is it limited ingredient? We also use liquid fish oil in her dry food to help with her coat and skin. I make my own dog treats to avoid having to read every label in the pet store To see if it is something she can have. She gets Zyrtec every morning to help also.
    Having a dog with allergies can be costly because you are buying high end products to keep them comfortable but they are absolutely worth it!
    Daphne is now 8 and we finally have her allergies somewhat under control
    She is allergic to beef corn and has seasonal allergies
    The only reason why I don’t use benedryl on a daily basis is because she has also has had a severe reaction to a bee sting and the benedryl is saved for those emergency type purposes.

  2. Avatar Of Debbie Bronstein

    Debbie Bronstein


    I have an American Staffordshire Pit. He has had problems since he was a baby. First we had swollen eyes. He had eyelashes growing in towards his eyes heavy in both eyes. Electrolysis on both eyes was so heavy it did damage to tear ducts. The next thing he has a toenail that we thought was split. Turns out after a month of wrapping the foot and a biopsy and soaking in Epsom Salts twice a day for a week. He has to have toe removed. So I then start to keep an eye on his feet. His toenails were becoming like a persons nails they were exposing the quick!! So off to a Dermatoligest. He is now on Van Patton fish and sweet potatoes he has a bath every 7-10days with a special shampoo that has to stay on for 10 minutes. My vet ordered it for me as at the Dermatoligest it was $60.00for a 12 ounce bottle. So now I have a gallon. Bruno takes Benadryl every morning 4, also fatty omega acids and an herb that my acupuncturist gets for him. He has an eye dr, a Dermatoligest, an herbalist who is an Equine Vet and his regular Vet. He still licks his feet but he is so much better. He cannot have his nails clipped and he cracked one we put a cast on it and saved the toe and the nail grew out safely. Sorry this was so long.

  3. Avatar Of Brenda



    For anyone that has a dog with allergies, have their thyroid tested. A lot of times a low thyroid can cause allergy symptoms or exacerbate them. I had my lab FINALLY tested after reading a ton of research about it and sure enough, her thyroid is low. She’s been on mess for over a month now and we’ve been able to cut her allergy med (atopica) in half. She goes back to the vet next week to retest and see where her thyroid levels are. Our hope is that she will be able to come off of the atopica totally.

  4. Avatar Of Susan Thieleman

    Susan Thieleman


    My 6 year old Wolfdog swelled up like she was full of air. Just her face. She looked like a Chow. Not breathing difficulties. I gave her a 25mg tab of Benedryl and by this morning the swelling is gone. Can’t figure what she reacted to. This is the first time.

  5. Avatar Of Amy Seidler

    Amy Seidler


    I have thought for the longest that my pit/lab mix girl had yeast. But I’m started to suspect it’s actually allergies. I did put her on grain free food when I got her, Earthborn Bison flavor. It’s free of potatoes and sweet potatoes. She’s had plenty of yogurt, fish oil. She has the smell of yeast..she nibbles her feet but not to the point of any injury. Her ears seem clear of infection though. What can anyone suggest until I can get her checked out? (a couple weeks) She is otherwise healthy 🙂

    • Avatar Of Renee Fuller

      Renee fuller


      Coconut oil is wonderful for yeast. Add it to the food and use it topically. Be cautious on foods as sugar feeds yeast.

    • Avatar Of Brenda



      Yeast overgrowth is actually a byproduct of allergies. A dog with allergies will often times have yeast overgrowth in the paws and ears (that is what causes the licking and ear infections).

  6. Avatar Of Tara



    i hate shot day!!! but i hate prednisone more!!!
    my newest shelter guy started manifesting symptoms of severe allergies about a year after he came to his forever home. being told that he had flea allergies (fleas are NOT allowed in my home since an infestation almost 20yrs ago caused severe damage to my beloved cocker’s body…they ate through his skull, they were so bad….after flea bathes, treatments, professional home treatments. FINALLY, they were overcome and i am beYOND diligent to make sure not one stinkin’ little flea comes near any of my kids now…)>
    being outspoken, and definite, i pursued. after many MANy weeks of treatment with prednisone (as he was scratching himself raw) and the several repeats of flea treatments, the vet FINAlly agreed that he MIGHT have allergies (he had been on a food trial for weeks….).
    he tested positive for EVERYthing that new england has in plants…along with dust mites and some other airborne pathogens. he’s a southern breeder rescue so she felt it just took the second year to really get his allergies in full bloom (understatement). he is now on allergy shots and is almost at his third bottle. he has terrible reactions on the day of the shots, but he only gets pred. on the day of administration (he has other health issues and the long term use of the prednisone had just added to his psychological issues…fear, anxiety etc etc) and takes prescription anti-itch meds daily….we’re now into october, so i’m trusting we’ll have a handle on this by next spring. and he can live the life he was meant to live…..happy, calm, itch free and CRAZY!!!!

  7. Avatar Of Beth



    This article is excellent & hits home. Our dog (Lab) is 10 & she has been under treatment for 3 yrs. We control the food allergies (peanuts, pork, white potatoes, soy & carrots).Shots sort of control the environmental problems (many types of grass, weeds, trees, flowers and even black flies to name a few). She is so much improved but NEVER fully OK although she no longer has the frequent 1 ear infection that has plagued her since a pup. I wish I knew about allergies with our 1st Lab. He freq. had ear infections & the vet did say he was allergic to flea bites, but never had an infestation. Different Vet now & what a difference but it took us 6 yrs. to learn!

    • Avatar Of Patti



      This confirms my “diagnosis” for my 13 yr old English Setter, but also for my 9 yr old Siamese/calico cat and me! We all have congestion in our throats, year round, but both of them have ear drainage & itchy backs starting in Fall & continuing pretty much through the winter. I feed Taste of the Wild dry food, they do not have fleas, though they may get a bite when out of doors. My kitty has pronounced hair loss & bumps/scabs just above her tail on her back. My vets have not been able to diagnose the allergens.

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