Itching, sneezing, feeling just all-around-uncomfortable – the same tough-to-bear allergy symptoms you experience from time to time can affect your pet, too! However, while allergies can impact pets seasonally, they can also occur year-round due to a number of causes – from environmental changes, to food ingredients, and more.
But identifying the cause of your dog’s allergies isn’t as simple as it might be for humans. First you need to understand the common causes of allergies in pets, then know how to spot the symptoms, and what to do to help offer your pup some relief so they can start feeling like themselves again.
What Causes Allergies in Dogs?
Unfortunately, allergies are very common in dogs, and begin to show up once a dog matures past one or two years of age. There can be a number of causes, which the experts at VCA Veterinary Hospitals break down into several categories:
- Flea allergy: Reaction to a flea bite or flea dirt
- Food allergy: Reaction to something the dog ingested
- Inhalant allergy, atopy or seasonal allergy: Reaction to breathing in an allergen (like dust, mold, pollen, etc.)
- Skin contact allergy: Reaction to something in contact with your dog’s skin. This can be something from outside, like a tree or grass pollen, or can be from something as simple as a laundry detergent that was used in your dog’s bedding.
While it can be tough to narrow exactly what is causing your pet’s allergies, start with the process of elimination. Ask yourself some questions: Did you change laundry detergent or cleaning products? Did you recently move and have environmental changes (like new trees and pollen)? Did you switch your dog’s food? Take notes and use the process of elimination to rule out potential causes, and always consult your vet to help identify the root cause.
How to Spot Allergies
Any good dog owner can tell a change in behavior in their pup, but sometimes allergies can be tricky to identify.
A few telltale signs of an allergic reaction include excessive itching, constant licking (especially of the paws), sneezing, and runny eyes. Keep an eye on your pet and if any of these habits have noticeably increased, schedule a trip to the vet to help with finding the cause and appropriate treatment.
How to Treat Allergies in Dogs
As American Kennel Club explains, treatment of allergies depends entirely on your dog’s type of allergy. For example, the best way to treat flea allergy dermatitis is to kill the fleas, while the best way to treat a food allergy is a change in diet.
It’s always best to consult your vet for their expert opinion, and for immediate relief, they can help with topical remedies and even by administering a vaccine (like Cytopoint) to stop the itching. And in the meantime, a standard benadryl can be administered every 4 – 6 hours (2-4 milligrams per pound of their body weight) to provide instant at-home relief,
When to Call an Emergency Vet
While minor environmental and seasonal allergies can be managed at home, and with a few helpful products from the vet, acute allergic reactions should not be ignored.
Bee stings, vaccine reactions, and ingesting something harmful (like a chemical, cleaning product, or other poisons) can cause anaphylactic shock in dogs, which can be fatal if not immediately treated. Signs of severe allergic reactions include hives, swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyelids, or earflaps, excessive vomiting, and decreased heart rate.
If you believe your pet is experiencing an acute allergic reaction, call your emergency vet or the Animal Poison Control hotline immediately.