Just like you, your dog may experience seasonal allergies and allergic reactions. We’ve created a guide to symptoms, causes, and treatments for dog allergies. If you believe your dog may have allergies, be sure to consult with your veterinarian before proceeding with medication.
Allergies are generally sensitivities to things found in the environment, like dust and pollen. While they aren’t typically harmful, your dog’s immune system could react to these substances as dangerous and react accordingly.
Symptoms of allergies, like inflammation, swelling, and itching, are a result of the immune system releasing histamines to fight off the allergen. Common environmental allergens include pollen, weeds, mold, grass, fungi, and flea saliva. Similar to humans, dogs can also have food allergies. Allergies are relatively common in pets, so your dog may experience seasonal allergies just like you.
Your dog may be allergic to the pollen, dust, or other allergens in the air. This could result in some or all of the following symptoms:
If you notice symptoms in your dog as the seasons or weather conditions change, your dog may have seasonal allergies.
Frequent bathing can help keep these allergens off of your dog and reduce symptoms. Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec have been used on pets before to treat seasonal allergies. If you are thinking about giving your dog an antihistamine, consult your veterinarian, as each dog reacts differently to medication. If you feel that your dog’s allergies are severe enough, speak with your veterinarian about getting prescription medication for your dog.
Skin allergies, also known as allergic dermatitis, are the most commonly occurring allergic reaction in dogs.
The main causes of skin allergies are flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies, and environmental allergens. Flea allergy dermatitis is the result of flea saliva, which can make sensitive dogs feel itchy. Food allergies can cause gastrointestinal problems and itchy skin, most commonly in the ears and paws. As described above, environmental allergens can impact your dog’s skin, making them feel itchy.
True food allergies, in which your dog’s body exhibits an immune response, are relatively uncommon in dogs. Symptoms include skin conditions, like hives and itching, gastrointestinal signs, like vomiting and diarrhea, or a combination. Most people refer to a food insensitivity as a food allergy. Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities don’t involve an immune response, but exhibit symptoms of discomfort in your dog.
In some rare cases, dogs can go into anaphylaxis - similar to a severe allergy to humans.
If you change your dog’s diet and begin to notice symptoms, your dog may have an allergy or sensitivity to an ingredient in their diet. Consult your veterinarian if you believe your dog may have a food allergy.