How to tell if your dog has allergies?

by Amy Cooper
Dog in field of buttercups

Have you ever heard of a dog with an allergy? Chances are yes, you have! This is because unfortunately allergies are quite common in all dogs. So, now you’re probably wondering if your dog might have an allergy. Well if they scratch, nibble or lick at themselves a lot there is a possibility your dog is allergic to something. 

Here is everything you need to know about allergies in dogs:

Environmental allergy symptoms

Environmental allergies can range from mild to severe but are usually milder. This means the symptoms will be similar to hay fever in people (Vetericyn, 2020):

  • Scratching or biting – this is the most common symptom. 
  • Respiratory issues – coughing, sneezing and trouble breathing.
  • Paw nibbling or licking
  • Inflamed or irritated skin – can look red or scabby.
  • Ear infections

Food allergy symptoms

Again, these can range from mild to severe but are also usually milder. The symptoms of food allergies will usually be harder to spot than environmental allergies. But the symptoms of food allergies include (Hill’s pet, 2020):

  • Upset stomach – vomiting, diarrhoea and flatulence.
  • Inflamed or irritated skin – can cause frequent scratching.
  • Greasy coat – even when groomed and bathed correctly.
  • Ear infections

More severe/acute allergies

Dog stung by a bee

Dogs can also have acute allergies similar to anaphylaxis in humans. This is obviously much more severe than the previously mentioned allergies. But can be caused by environmental and food factors as well as medication. If your dogs dose show symptoms of this type of allergy they need to see a vet asap! The symptoms include (pdsa, 2020):

  • Itchy skin and a rash.
  • Swollen face or paws.
  • Unusually fast heart rate.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Stomach problems – Vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Collapse.
  • Coma.

The most common allergies in dogs

The most common environmental allergies are (gwfnutrition, 2020):

  • Dust and dust mites.
  • Mould.
  • Pollen.

The most common food allergies are (The dog people, 2021):

  • Beef.
  • Dairy.
  • Wheat.

The most common acute/severe allergies are (dogtime, 2018):

  • Insect bites/stings – most commonly bees, wasps and fire ants.
  • Specific foods or chemicals used in food production.
  • Medication.

What can you do for your dogs’ allergies?

The first thing to do if you suspect your dog has an allergy would be to go to your vets. They can help rule out any other causes of symptoms and talk through what might be causing your dogs allergies. The vets may then prescribe antihistamine tablets (usually environmental allergies) for your dog to take daily or advise you to avoid the trigger (usually food allergies). To avoid the trigger of your dogs allergy you may have to do some trial and error with their foods. But a good place to start would be with a hypoallergenic or grain free kibble. Also make sure when you change your dogs food you do it gradually to avoid any stomach upset. Another thing to remember if you are changing your dogs food to avoid allergy triggers you will also need to swap to hypoallergenic treats!

If nothing you’ve tried to help your dog with its allergies is working it might be time to have an allergy test done for them. To do this you will need to visit your vets, but it should tell you exactly what your dog is allergic to. This means that you know exactly what to avoid. 

If your dog has allergies, good luck! I know how hard it can be to find the source of your dogs allergies – one of mine has environmental and food allergies! 

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