Does Your Dog Have Allergies?

The human animal isn’t the only one affected by allergies. Like you, your adult dog can suffer from allergic reactions to any number of things — in the air, on his skin and in his food. Allergies must be diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian, but first, you must know what to look for.

The most common signs and symptoms of allergies include:

  • persistent scratching, licking and skin chewing
  • face and ear rubbing
  • inflamed skin patches, hair loss and foul odor
  • coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose
  • frequent vomiting or diarrhea

The most common allergy symptoms in dogs are the skin reactions, regardless of the cause. And they can they can crop up at any age. Just because he didn’t have allergies as a puppy, doesn’t mean your dog won’t have them now that he’s an adult. Four of the most common types of allergies that might affect your dog are inhalant, food, contact and flea allergies.

Inhalant allergies in dogs are caused by the same common allergens that affect you — dust, grass, trees, mold, pollen, ragweed, etc. They can be seasonal or persistent and, while some breeds (especially short-snouted breeds) may experience the same sniffly, sneezy symptoms you might suffer, skin reactions are most common. Inhalant allergies can often be treated with the same medications you take, but please don’t treat your dog’s allergies without veterinary supervision.

Food allergies can be the most difficult to diagnose and manage. Treatment involves a hit-and-miss approach involving a restricted diet and the gradual reintroduction of possible allergens to determine the culprit. Skin reactions to food allergies are common in dogs, but frequent vomiting or diarrhea can also be a sign. Keep in mind that if there is a change in your dog’s diet (or he just ate something he wasn’t supposed to), he may experience an episode of vomiting or diarrhea — this doesn’t necessarily mean your dog has an allergy. Watch and see if it becomes a persistent problem before scheduling a costly trip to the vet.

Contact and flea allergies generally cause skin irritation and are treated topically. You might be surprised to learn that most dogs are only vaguely bothered by fleas. But those that are allergic can suffer — and so can their owners. Dogs with contact and flea allergies often chew their skin raw, leading to hair loss, odor and infection, so fastidious flea control is a must.

Allergies can vary from dog to dog, so it is important that you work with your vet to make sure YOUR dog gets the best possible treatment. You’ll both be happier for it.