Common Dog Allergies

November 17, 2021

If you’re like most pet parents, you do everything in your power to keep your fur baby happy and healthy, and you hate to see them fall ill. In a matter of hours, your pup can go from being their normal, exuberant self to lacking all energy and displaying clear signs of discomfort.

While it’s true that an upset stomach could be signs of a serious issue requiring antibiotics and medical attention, it’s also possible the cause of your pup’s poor health is more benign. Surprisingly, common dog allergies are often the culprit.

Unlike humans, who process allergens through our nasal and respiratory systems, our four-legged friends work through foreign substances with their stomach and GI tract. As a result, the signs of allergies in dogs present differently – rather than sneezing, congestion, and sinus pain, canines will experience itchy skin, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Luckily, the treatments for dog allergies are similar to those used for humans. Below, we’re sharing some of our favorite home remedies for chronic and seasonal allergies, but it’s always important to reach out to your vet and seek immediate medical advice for acute allergic reactions. In either case, we recommend paying a visit to your vet to figure out the root cause of your fur baby’s illness instead of diagnosing it yourself.

So, what are dogs allergic to? Well, the most common dog allergies are due to environmental, food, or flea-related factors. Each category has a slightly different effect on the canine nervous system, which not only helps diagnose the issue and determine a treatment, but it also means they physically manifest in different ways.

There’s no doubt that ear infections, itchy skin, and digestion issues are troublesome, and they’re all actually signs of allergies in dogs. To help you take care of your fur baby, we’re sharing the symptoms, causes, and treatments of common dog allergies. Keep reading to learn more about how to keep your pup happy and healthy for years to come!

Symptoms of Dog Allergies

It can be a lot of pressure to properly recognize the signs and come to the right conclusion about your dog’s cause of discomfort. At the very least, they’re uncomfortable and you want to relieve their pain as quickly as you can. Take a look at some of the telltale signs that your dog has allergies below so you can react quickly the next time your fur baby is suffering.

How Common Are Allergies in Dogs?

You’re probably aware of the infamous “chocolate allergy” in dogs — more on that later — but canine allergies are actually very common, so odds are high that your four-legged friend is affected by one or more of the many varieties. As a pup parent, we recommend testing your fur baby regularly to give you peace of mind, but also because common dog allergies can be developed over time.

What Are Common Signs of Allergies in Dogs?

Ultimately, it depends on the type of allergy and your pup’s level of sensitivity, but there are a few common signs of allergies in dogs that you want to watch out for and use as indicators of deeper issues.

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy or inflamed skin
  • Gastrointestinal issues (gas, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.)
  • Hives and severe swelling of the face in more serious situations

If your fur baby is suffering from any of those symptoms, you’ll also notice they’re constantly focused on the affected area as they do their best to heal. Excessive self-grooming such as licking, scratching, and biting are likely signs of skin infection or inflammation, which could be caused by a sensitivity to flea saliva. Alternatively, their stomach issues (which display in clear ways) might be the result of a food-related or environmental allergy.

Common Skin Allergies

Scientifically known as canine allergic dermatitis, skin allergies can come from a variety of sources, but the most common causes are environmental factors, food sensitivities, and flea saliva. Interestingly, the proteins in flea saliva can cause an allergic reaction in dogs, making their skin itchy and irritated. That said, their skin issues could also be a symptom of another allergy, so take a minute to familiarize yourself with some of the more common dog allergies below.

Environmental Allergies in Dogs

Airborne substances like pollen from grass or trees, dust bunnies, and mold spores can all result in an allergic reaction from your pup and cause them to scratch or lick themselves incessantly. If your four-legged friend suffers from these symptoms year-round, it’s likely that dust or mold are to blame — but if it only seems to happen occasionally, then consider what type of seasonal allergies could be affecting your pup.

Common Dog Allergies that Cause Itching

Unfortunately, your pup’s itchy skin could be due to almost anything, so it can be tricky to diagnose. Itching is a common allergic reaction to environmental, food-related, or flea saliva sensitivity factors. 

shiba inu scratching

Alternatively, it could just be a sign to give your dog a bath or schedule a mobile grooming appointment with Barkbus!

Common Food Allergies

More often than not, common dog food allergies are caused by a sensitivity to the proteins in certain foods. Over time, with prolonged or frequent exposure, allergen levels start to build up in the body and an immune response is triggered, which displays in the symptoms we see such as itchy skin or GI issues. If your pup has an upset stomach after each meal, it’s worth doing a dog food allergy test to see if they have any food sensitivities. Trust us, you’ll both be happier for it.

What Types of Food Are Dogs Allergic To?

You might be wondering, can dogs be allergic to fish or is there such a thing as a chicken allergy in dogs? The simple answer is yes, but we can’t stress it enough that reactions can vary greatly between individuals as it all depends on your pup’s genetic predisposition, sensitivity levels, and exposure amount. We strongly recommend that you test your four-legged friend for the more common dog food allergies listed below so you know what to avoid to keep your fur baby safe.

  • Grain and Peanut Allergies
  • Beef and Chicken Allergies
  • Fish and Egg Allergies

Fact or Fiction: Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?

As it turns out, dogs aren’t allergic to chocolate per se — rather, they can’t metabolize a chemical found in chocolate called theobromine. So it’s true that dogs can eat chocolate, but ingesting too much of it can be toxic and will put your pup at serious risk. If you saw or suspect that your dog got some chocolate down their gullet, monitor their status closely and be prepared to seek medical attention if it becomes necessary. Depending on the size of your dog and the amount of chocolate consumed, they could have anything from mild discomfort to more serious gastrointestinal issues.

How to Treat Dog Allergies

Luckily, there are a few different ways for you to treat common dog allergies, including specially formulated shampoos and conditioners, home remedies, and targeted medications. For symptoms of itchy and irritated skin, we recommend you start by giving your fur baby a bath to clean and soothe their skin. It’s possible your pup just needs proper coat care and regular grooming, but if the issue persists, it’s time to explore allergies as the root cause for your dog’s ailments.

Home Remedies

If your pup suffers from chronic or seasonal allergies, there are a few treatment options you can try at home to boost their wellness and immunity. Think about giving your fur baby supplements like omega-3 fatty acids to nourish their skin and coat, in addition to probiotics to promote gut health and resiliency. You can also give your dog a small amount of apple cider vinegar, either orally or topically, which contains antibiotic properties.

Consider too, that food can be an effective treatment method as your dog’s diet is a main contributor to their overall health. Sure, perhaps they have a specific dog food allergy that you need to avoid, but even a slight change in what you feed your pup can have big benefits for their wellness and vitality in the short-term and over the long-run.

dog eating from bowl

When to Go to the Vet

As a pet parent, there are bound to be times that home remedies prove ineffective and at the end of the day, it’s best to visit your local veterinarian — especially if symptoms develop rapidly. While you can use some counter drugs like antihistamines for dog allergies, we suggest going to the vet to get an expert opinion and access stronger medications like antibiotics and antifungals. Steroid treatments may be necessary in extreme cases, but only after careful consideration as the long-term effects can be devastating.

When all is said and done, aside from a trained veterinarian, you’re the one who knows your fur baby best. It’s part of your responsibility to notice when they aren’t feeling well or acting normally, and try to do something to soothe them, but it’s also worth taking some time to consider the root cause the next time your dog gets itchy skin or stomach issues. Perhaps your pup is suffering from one of the common dog allergies that you’ve just learned about, and now you know the perfect way to get them back on their feet and see that tail wag once more!

To keep your pup happy and healthy, get them a grooming appointment with Barkbus today.


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