Dog Allergies: Reasons, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Did you know that allergies aren't only for humans? Dog allergies are common in dogs too. Some dogs can be allergic and are affected by different allergens.
Do you think your dog is sick and suspect dog allergies? Then this article is for you.
In this article, we'll break down all you need to know about the causes of dog allergies as well as how to diagnose and treat them.

Reasons for Dog Allergies

Dog allergies depend on different factors like the allergens that your dog encounters, the time of the year, or even your dog's breed.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll mention four reasons for dog allergies, ways to diagnose your pup, and some treatment options.

Parasite-Induced Allergies

It's not odd that a dog catches certain parasites that find its furry skin perfect for staying. Probably every dog will have to go through this at least once in their lives.
Certain parasites, like fleas and ticks, bite the dog's skin; their saliva is what causes an allergic reaction in some dogs (not all dogs are allergic to their saliva)
The types of parasites that cause most allergic reactions in dogs include mites, ticks, and fleas.

Diagnosis

You’ll easily be able to see and diagnose the symptoms of a parasite-induced skin reaction in your dog.
If you see any of the following signs, your dog is most likely having an allergic reaction.
  • Too much itching or licking
  • Biting the affected area
  • Losing hair
  • Visible skin lesions or rash
Those reactions are not continuous and may happen from time to time as episodes or attacks, which will be after the parasite bites the skin.
However, the reaction is more intense in summer and as your dog gets older.

Treatment

Parasites stick to your dog’s skin, mostly behind the ears and on the back (ticks) or to the armpits and the abdomen area (fleas)
First, make sure you remove the parasite to prevent any more biting. You can do one of the following:
  • Groom your dog until the parasite is removed
  • Use a topical cream
If your dog is scratching excessively, you should have him checked by a vet; the vet would prescribe some antihistamines and antibiotics if they find any infection.

Food-Induced Allergies

This kind of allergic reaction in dogs is one of the most popular.
Some components of the food you’ve included in your dog’s diet can cause allergies at any age.

Diagnosis

Your dog will experience some of the following symptoms in case of food-induced allergies:
  • Itchiness that doesn't go away.
  • Self-harming due to excessive itch
  • Face rubbing
  • Belly scratching
  • Regular ear infections

Treatment

Vets have identified food allergens to be one of the following:
  • Carbohydrates, like corn and wheat
  • Proteins; like beef, chicken, fish, and eggs
Unlike us humans, there are no lab tests that can be carried out to identify which food causes your dog’s allergy. There is, however, a highly effective method called the Elimination Diet.
This kind of diet is simply removing one of the suspected ingredients in your dog's food for up to six weeks and seeing if the allergy improves.
If it doesn't, then you should move on to another ingredient until you can tell for sure which one.
Once you have identified the allergen, exclude it from your dog's diet.
N.B: Some dog breeds are more prone to food-induced allergies like:
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Bulldogs
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Schnauzers
  • Terriers

Environmental Allergens

Dog allergies caused by the environment surrounding your dog can be common too.
Such allergies happen when your dog inhales specific allergens during a certain season or throughout the year.
Reasons for environmental dog allergies can be classified into two categories:
  • Indoor allergens, like molds, cigarette smoke, dust, mites, and cleaning chemicals
  • Outdoor allergens, like ragweed, pollens, and grasses

Diagnosis

Your dog will react to environmental allergens by one or more of the following:
  • Constant licking
  • Scratching and itching
  • Recurrent infections around the ears

Treatment

Similar to food-induced allergens, you will have to know exactly which allergen causes the reactions and eliminate it.
This can be either by keeping your dog indoors only or outdoors (like in a garden) for around a week and seeing if he improves to narrow down the possibilities.
If you can't identify the cause, your dog will have to be on corticosteroids and antihistamines for the rest of his life; a vet can prescribe those medicines.

Contact-Induced Allergic Reactions

Allergies induced by contact aren't very common in dogs, but they can be the reason for your dog's allergic reaction if any of the other three aren't.
Such allergies don't develop overnight. Your dog has probably been in contact with the allergen until the reaction developed, leading to irritation after being exposed to it for a long time.

Diagnosis

Here are some of the symptoms your dog will show:
  • Excessive scratching and irritation
  • Red spots all over the body
  • Skin rashes and lesions
If your dog shows the following symptoms as well, then you have to seek professional help immediately.
  • Breathing is difficult
  • Coughing

Treatment

As for treatment, every allergen has its own course of treatment. Treatment can include antihistamines and steroids, according to your dog’s case. Creams, lotions, and shampoos can also be an option if your vet believes it’s best for your canine.
Your vet should be able to run some tests at the lab in the case of contact-induced allergic reactions and decide which treatment will best work with your dog.

Conclusion

Dog allergies can be classified into four different types according to the allergen affecting your dog.
Reasons can include parasites, food, environmental factors, or other objects that your dog contacts; the most common types of dog allergies are the ones caused by parasites and food.
Now that you know all about dog allergies, make sure you take good care of your best friend, and remember, if your dog experiences any respiratory symptoms or hurts himself badly while scratching, you have to seek your vet’s help as soon as you can.