The Top 9 Causes of Dog Allergies

by | Aug 24, 2020 | Food & Nutrition

Similar to humans, a number of things can cause allergies for dogs. However, if you are aware of the common symptoms and take necessary precautions, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of your dog having a severe reaction. In saying that, the most common allergies for dogs are categorized in the nine following categories:

#1 Flea Bites

First, there is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), which is an allergic reaction from flea bites. According to Merck Veterinary Hospital, this is the most common dermatological disease in domestic dogs in the United States. Reactions occur when fleas bite and inject saliva into their host. Certain dogs can react to these compounds and develop skin irritation and itching. The allergy can affect the entire body, and severity may depend on how much exposure the dog has had to the histamine compounds within the fleas’ saliva and their unique immune response. At the first sign of FAD, take your dog to the vet. They will be able to provide a professional diagnosis and prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help with the reaction. Additionally, a medicated shampoo bath to kill the remaining fleas, and an ongoing flea medication or collar to prevent them from coming back. 

#2 Seasonal Allergies

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies. Some signs that your dog may have seasonal allergies include:

  • Irritated skin
  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • Puffy or red eyes
  • Sneezing

The best treatment for these allergies are anti-histamines. Benadryl is also a common over the counter treatment that is safe for most dogs to take. However, it should only be administered with a vet’s recommendation.

#3 Food Allergies

Food allergies are quite common in dogs. According to WebMD, 10% of all dog allergy cases are related to food. Allergic reactions occur when the dog’s body incorrectly identifies a certain food as harmful. The body then produces antibodies, and these antibodies result in a variety of potentially dangerous symptoms. 

Symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ear inflammation
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Itching
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea 

If you notice your dog is suffering from one of the above food allergy symptoms, take your dog to the vet right away. A licensed vet will be able to provide the right treatment to help your dog’s systems get back to normal. He or she can also help identify the food that caused your dog to have a reaction. This can usually be done through process of elimination or a simple allergy test.

#4 Dog Kibble

Did you know dogs can also be allergic to certain types of dog kibble? This can be caused by one specific ingredient or multiple. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with the specific brand your dog was consuming but rather it is a unique immune system response in your dog. This reaction will still occur regardless of what brand you use containing the ingredients that make your dog sick. Most commonly it is not the main ingredients that cause these reactions but rather a contaminant in the food or a substance used in manufacturing. To eliminate this, all-natural food and treats are recommended. If you notice that your dog is sick, take your dog to the vet so they can administer anti-inflammatory medication. Just like with human food allergies, the vet will most likely put your dog on an elimination diet to identify the ingredient causing the reaction. Once the ingredient(s) is discovered, remove any dog food containing that item from their diet and avoid other products that contain the same ingredient(s). 

#5 Airborne Allergies

Airborne allergies, also known as atopy, caused by dust, pollen, mold, or other inhalants are common in dogs as well. Symptoms can include:

  • Itching
  • Chewing
  • Licking
  • Scratching all over their body
  • Respiratory issues. 

It’s sometimes tough to determine whether the reaction is caused by an airborne allergen or something else. Keep a log of when this reaction tends to occur. If it coincides with Spring, for example, this is an indication your dog may be allergic to inhalants. You can also get an allergy test to determine the specific cause(s). Once diagnosed, you may be able to increase your dog’s allergy resistance through an allergy shot. This shot could lessen their hypersensitivity to the allergen. Your vet may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for symptom relief. 

#6 Environmental Allergens

Like most dogs, your dog probably loves to play outside. However, you must be careful and keep track of what your dogs is doing as they can be exposed to environmental allergens. These are caused by plants and other environmental agents that can cause your dog to have a reaction if they come in contact with them. Contact with said plants and agents can cause itching, scratching and sneezing. If your dog is having a reaction, take them to the vet to get diagnosed and have a proper treatment recommended to you. Then make sure the plant that caused the reaction is not on your property. The next time when you’re out and about, keep an eye out for it so you can make sure your dog doesn’t come into contact with it again.

#7 Household Cleaning Products

Many products around the home can also cause a reaction to your dog. Unfortunately, it can be tough to figure out which substance is causing the reaction. If possible, try to pay attention to when your dog experiences symptoms and what they might have come into contact with shortly beforehand, including what they might have inhaled. This will help you narrow it down. Treatment of symptoms usually comes in the form of anti-inflammatory medication, but the best way to prevent them is to remove the allergen from your dog’s environment completely.

Some of our favorite pet-safe cleaning brands are:

#8 Prescription Medication

Allergies are very unpredictable, but they may be most unpredictable when giving your dog something that is supposed to help them. Prescription drugs are a common practice for treating a range of pet-related ailments. However, sometimes your dog may react badly to the drug itself or an ingredient within. symptoms of drug allergies can include hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, loss of appetite, lethargy, and respiratory changes. While prescription drug allergies are not as common, they should not be ignored when trying to assess what may have happened. Keep a log of whatever medication your dog is on or has taken recently. If a reaction does occur, take your dog to the vet and give them the log to help them narrow down what might be causing it.

#9 Medicated Shampoos

Finally, some dogs can have a reaction to medicated shampoos. These shampoos can be made of ingredients that cause the immune system to release histamine that leads to skin irritation and more severe reactions. 

Symptoms can include:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Bald patches
  • Lesions
  • Swelling

If you believe your dog is having an allergic reaction to shampoo, first rinse any areas that came in contact with it. You can then administer an OTC medicine like Benadryl (with your vet’s recommendation) to help with symptoms. Additionally, topical antihistamines may work well. If the reaction persists, take your dog to the vet and they can prescribe stronger medication to deal with the symptoms. 

Get help for your pet today with Odie’s Pet Insurance.

Trying to find the right vet for your companion? You can read more about choosing a vet that gets your pet here.

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