Allergies in Dogs

Once the air starts to warm (or cool), flowers begin to bloom (or die), and dust starts to fly-we start to itch! Just like you and me, our furry friends can develop allergies too. My favourite time of year is falling asleep to my 6year old Shih Tzu Pumpkin licking and chewing at her paws!

How would I know if my pet has allergies?

  • Itching and scratching more often
  • Hair loss and scabs
  • Red, irritated looking skin
  • Runny eyes and sneezing
  • Chewing paws

There are many different reasons why your pet could be itching, licking and scratching:

Seasonal allergies – Dogs can develop these allergies at any point in their lives. Allergens can become a problem when they are inhaled, ingested or come in contact with the skin. When the body tries to rid itself of these allergens, that’s when we will see these pesky symptoms. There are different treatment options for this condition depending on the severity of your pet’s allergy. Often the skin can become very red and inflamed and need medical intervention such as antibiotics or even steroids.

Food allergies – These usually take up 10% of cases presented for allergies. Our pets can be allergic to certain ingredients in food, but often to diagnose this takes some investigative work. Food allergies often present with itchy skin, chronic ear infections and GI upset. The easiest way to determine if your pet has a food allergy is an elimination diet, just as it sounds-eliminating different protein sources and trying others. Most often dogs are allergic to chicken, dairy, beef, eggs, corn, soy or wheat. Alternatives to these protein sources are duck, fish or kangaroo. Your veterinarian may also recommend a hydrolyzed protein diet-where the protein source is broken down into smaller pieces that the immune system cannot recognize.

Flea allergies – When a flea bites your furry friend, they draw blood and in return inject saliva. Some animals can be allergic to this saliva causing FAD (flea allergy dermatitis.) Often this itching will last a long time, even causing skin irritation, rash and hair loss. Just because you don’t see fleas does not mean they are not there-animals are excellent groomers and could be removing the live fleas from their bodies. Your veterinarian will be able to help you choose the appropriate flea prevention and treatment as well as address any subsequent skin issues. As always, when we are dealing with fleas it is recommended to treat for 3 months in a row to kill the flea life cycle.

Allergies can be frustrating for both your pets and you. Figuring out the root of your pets itching is key in helping them to feel better.

Not sure where or if your pet falls into any of these categories? Consult your Veterinarian!

Written By: Melissa Penner, RVT