Dog Allergies Causes, Symptoms, Reactions & Treatments

by | Jul 31, 2023 | Dogs, Health & Wellness

As a pet owner, it can be concerning to watch your dog exhibit mysterious symptoms you’re not sure how to get rid of. You may find comfort in the fact that dog allergies are one possible cause, and treatment options are available to help your pup feel better again. 

Understanding Canine Allergies

Canine allergies are defined as unfavorable reactions brought on by allergens that your dog’s immune system interprets as harmful. The symptoms and health problems these allergies bring can greatly influence your pet’s quality of life. That’s why it’s essential to recognize these sensitivities and take quick action to protect your dog’s health. Symptoms of allergies can be different in dogs than in humans, so it’s important to know what to look for if you think your dog may be suffering from allergies.

What Are the Types of Dog Allergies?

The types of skin allergies that dogs  experience include contact allergies, canine atopic dermatitis and bacterial hypersensitivity.

Dog Skin Allergies 

Dog skin allergies are a prevalent problem that can be brought on by many factors. The three most common types of skin allergies in dogs are bacterial hypersensitivity, contact allergies, and canine atopic dermatitis.

  • Bacterial Hypersensitivity: When a dog’s immune system overreacts to microorganisms on the skin, it develops bacterial hypersensitivity. This causes severe itching, hair loss, skin redness, and infections. 
  • Contact Allergies: Dogs can develop contact allergies when particular plants, substances, fabrics, or cleaning agents come into direct contact with their skin. Localized itchiness, redness, hives, and skin inflammation can be caused by contact allergies.
  • Canine Atopic Dermatitis: Canine atopic dermatitis is an allergic skin condition that is frequently brought on by environmental allergens such as pollen, mildew, dust mites, and certain grasses. Itching that is extremely bad, redness, hair loss, and recurrent skin infections are common in dogs with atopic dermatitis.

Food Allergies

Dogs may be allergic to certain foods, including beef, chicken, wheat, soy, and dairy products. Food allergies can lead to skin problems (itching, redness), ear infections that last a long time, and digestive problems (vomiting, diarrhea).

Flea Allergies 

Dogs frequently experience allergic reactions to fleas. In dogs who are allergic to fleas, even a single bite can result in severe itching, skin inflammation, redness, and subsequent skin diseases.

What Are the Symptoms of Dog Allergies?

Understanding the signs of dog allergies is essential for accurate diagnosis and successful treatment. Depending on the allergen and the affected location, allergies can present in various ways.

Digestive Symptoms 

Dog allergies can cause a number of digestive symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, increased gas, bloating, and changes in appetite. These signs may point to a food allergy or a negative reaction to a particular ingredient.

Respiratory Symptoms

Dogs with allergies often exhibit respiratory symptoms akin to hay fever or asthma in people. Sneezing, coughing, wheezing, nasal discharge, and breathing problems can all occur in dogs.

Skin Symptoms

Dogs with allergies frequently exhibit skin irritation symptoms. These include recurrent skin infections, hair loss, itching, redness, hot spots (localized areas of inflammation), rashes, and scabs. Dogs may repeatedly lick, chew, or scratch the infected regions, which can cause more skin damage.

Where Can Dogs Get Allergies?

Allergies can be brought on elements inside and outside the home.


Dog allergies can develop for a number of reasons, including their local environment at home and the elements outside.

Common Causes of Dog Allergies at Home

Environmental allergens can bring on allergic reactions in dogs. Dust mites, mold spores, pollen, cleaning supplies, and cigarette smoke are common household allergens. They can cause allergy symptoms in dogs, whether your pet inhales them or they come in direct contact with their skin. 

Common Environmental Causes of Dog Allergies

Different environmental elements might cause allergies in dogs. Many dogs have severe tree, grass, and weed pollen allergies, especially during particular seasons. Allergies can also be brought on by insect bites from fleas, mosquitoes, or mites.

Common Plants That Cause Dog Allergies

It’s well known that several plants can make dogs allergic. When a dog comes into contact with pollen, leaves, or sap, common plants such as ragweed, oak trees, poison ivy, and others can cause allergic reactions.

How to Diagnose and Treat Dog Allergies?

Blood testing, skin scrapings, skin allergy tests and elimination diets are some treatment options for dog allergies.


Dog allergies can be difficult to diagnose since their symptoms can resemble those of other medical conditions. A veterinarian would normally start by thoroughly inspecting your dog and going over their medical history. 

Blood testing, skin scrapings, skin allergy tests (intradermal or blood allergy tests), and elimination diets are a few other diagnostic procedures they might advise. These tests can assist in identifying individual allergens and choosing the most effective course of action.

Dog Allergy Treatment Options

Dog allergy treatment seeks to control symptoms, lessen allergic reactions, and enhance your dog’s general well-being. Your vet may suggest the following therapies: 

  • Flea Control: Regular flea control procedures are essential to prevent and control flea allergies. This can involve keeping a clean living space and utilizing topical or oral flea-control medications.
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines can help with symptoms like itchiness, sneezing, and skin inflammation. They don’t work as well on all dogs, and the dosage and specific drug may change based on your dog’s condition.
  • Medicines: In more extreme circumstances, your veterinarian could recommend drugs like corticosteroids or immunosuppressants to stifle the allergic reaction and relieve symptoms. Due to possible negative effects, these drugs should only be taken under veterinary care.
  • Dietary Modifications/Hypoallergenic Diets: In the event that a food allergy is thought to exist, your veterinarian may advise a dietary trial or issue a hypoallergenic diet prescription. These diets are created with specific protein sources, limited ingredients (to minimize allergen exposure), and few additives to reduce the chance of inducing an allergic reaction.
  • External and Environmental Supports: Reducing exposure to environmental allergens can aid in the management of allergies. The amount of dust, pollen, and other allergens in the house can be decreased by doing routine cleanings, vacuuming, and utilizing air purifiers. Additionally, using hypoallergenic bedding and avoiding harsh cleaning agents may be beneficial, depending on what allergens your dog reacts to.
  • Supplements and medicated baths: Supplements and medicated baths with specific shampoos can help calm irritated skin and lessen swelling. Zinc, L-Lysine, Vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids are some supplements that may be suggested to support healthy skin and lessen allergy symptoms.
  • Antibiotics and antifungal medications: Your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics or antifungal medications to treat secondary bacterial or fungal infections in dogs who have skin allergies.

It’s crucial to remember that different treatment strategies may be necessary depending on your dog’s particular sensitivities and the severity of their ailment. You will be guided by your veterinarian as you choose the best course of action for your pet. 

How Do Dogs React to Allergies?

Dogs commonly have three different forms of allergy reactions:

Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria is a condition in which itchy, raised welts suddenly erupt on the skin. These hives might be isolated or dispersed all over the body. Exposure to allergens frequently results in urticaria, which can develop minutes or hours later.

The cheeks, lips, eyelids, or extremities are frequently affected by this deeper form of swelling of the subcutaneous tissues. This disorder may make breathing or swallowing difficult and can be more dangerous than hives. Urticaria and angioedema can coexist or be present separately.


The cheeks, lips, eyelids, or extremities are frequently affected by this deeper form of swelling of the subcutaneous tissues. This disorder may make breathing or swallowing difficult and can be more dangerous than hives. Urticaria and angioedema can coexist or be present separately.


Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal and affect numerous bodily systems. The symptoms, which include breathing problems, facial and throat edema, nausea, diarrhea, weakness, collapse, and loss of consciousness, appear suddenly and progress quickly. Anaphylaxis necessitates immediate emergency veterinary care since, if untreated, it can be lethal.

Can Pet Insurance Cover Dog Allergies Treatment?

Odie Pet Insurance can help reimburse for the cost of dog allergy treatments.

When it comes to paying for the costs of treating dog allergies, pet insurance can be a very helpful financial resource. However, the coverage you receive for your dog’s allergy treatment will depend on your policy and their unique condition. 

If your dog has already displayed allergy symptoms before your policy begins, most insurers will consider it a pre-existing condition, which is not typically covered. On the other hand, you may be able to get reimbursed for allergy shots and other treatments if your policy allows it.  

Odie has insurance plans and add-ons available to help you pay for the costs associated with dog allergies: 

The Illness & Injury Plan

The Illness & Injury Plan from Odie covers treatment for some allergy-related conditions, such as bites and stings. However, like most pet insurance policies, it does not cover pre-existing conditions, including allergies. 

The Wellness Plan 

Odie’s Wellness Plan aims to provide routine preventive care, such as immunizations, flea and tick prevention, and annual wellness checks. It’s an add-on you can purchase with any Odie insurance policy. 


How Serious Is a Dog Allergy?

An allergy to dogs can range in severity. While some dogs may only show moderate symptoms, some may have severe allergic reactions that can be dangerous to their health. For accurate diagnosis and treatment, veterinary care is absolutely necessary.

Do Pet Allergies Ever Go Away?

While symptoms of pet allergies may not totally disappear, they can be decreased and controlled with the right management. The severity of allergy reactions can be reduced by recognizing and avoiding individual allergens.

Do Dog Allergies Last All Year?

Dog allergies can be seasonal, manifesting during particular periods of the year when certain allergens (such as pollen allergies) are more common. However, due to ongoing exposure to indoor allergens or dietary allergies, some dogs may have allergies that last all year.

What Age Do Pet Allergies Start?

Your dog can experience allergies at any age, from puppyhood to adulthood. While some dogs may acquire allergies at a young age, others might not. Allergies can occur due to exposure to allergens, genetic predisposition, and environmental factors.

What Do Dog Allergies Sound Like?

Dogs with allergies don’t make any particular noises. However, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing are frequent signs of respiratory allergies.

Can Puppies Have Allergies?

Yes, just like adult dogs, puppies can have allergies. Specific dietary ingredients, flea bites, and environmental allergens can all cause allergic reactions.

Can Dogs Get Diarrhea From Allergies?

Yes, allergens can make dogs experience digestive problems, including diarrhea. Due to the body’s unpleasant reaction to specific dietary constituents, food allergies, in particular, can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Share this