Dog allergies are a common and frustrating problem for up to 30% of dogs, leading to excessive itching and a constant state of discomfort. Thankfully, highly-effective topical therapies, corticosteroids, and injectables exist today to alleviate their symptoms and put your dog back on track to living their best life. If you’ve noticed itching, chewing, welts, or other skin issues, you might have found yourself on the internet searching for a diagnosis and solution.
At San Dimas Pet Clinic, we work hard to present factual information you can rely on. That is why we’ve taken FAQs about dog allergies and answered them here to ensure you have reliable facts to get your dog the care they need.
If you’re looking for a highly trained veterinarian in San Dimas, CA, we’d love to see your dog if they seem to be struggling with allergies, so please call us at (909) 294-7478.
How common are allergies in dogs?
Allergies in dogs are relatively common, with 25 – 30% of them having some form of allergies. They’re so common that it's one of the primary reasons dogs come to San Dimas Pet Clinic for care. They present with different symptoms since there are a host of things that can cause allergies in dogs.
What are some common dog allergies?
Dog allergies can be environmental or food-related, with a range of symptoms and reactions depending on the extent of the allergy. Dogs may have many allergies, but if multiple allergens are not triggered all at once, a dog may not exhibit any clinical signs.
Typical dog allergies include:
- Flea bites
- Mosquito bites
- Food proteins, most commonly chicken, pork, or beef
How do allergies impact the health and well-being of my dog?
Dogs will be pretty uncomfortable when they experience allergy symptoms, draining them of energy and leading to poor quality of life. While the severity depends on the dog, the allergen, and the range of symptoms, dogs can become fixated on the discomfort and itch constantly. Some allergies present as ear infections, which can be recurrent and lead to pain and irritation. Due to the constant itching, allergies can lead to welts, hives, patchy hair loss, lesions, and other problems. For these reasons, you must visit your veterinarian to identify the allergy and develop a treatment plan to help your dog’s comfort level.
What are some signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs?
There is a wide range of signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs, from itching to emitting an unusual smell.
Signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs include:
- Rubbing their face
- Chewing at their hair or fur
- Scooting their hind end on the floor
- Recurrent ear infections
- Diarrhea and/or vomiting associated with food
- Reddened or inflamed skin
- Recurrent skin infections
- Swelling of the face
- Eye discharge
- Abnormal smell due to infection or secretion of excess skin oil
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has shared research that also connects behavioral problems in dogs to skin allergies due to the frustration and irritation of constant itching.
Can I diagnose my dog's allergies at home?
It’s never a good idea to self-diagnose your dog because you may assume the wrong diagnosis and delay necessary treatment. We can easily confuse allergies with other issues, such as fleas or external parasites, so visit your veterinarian for a proper evaluation. Even if it seems obvious that your dog is suffering from an allergy, sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint precisely what your dog is allergic to. Your veterinarian can help with drug modalities and injectables, which don’t identify the allergen but help to alleviate the symptoms. They might also recommend a food-elimination diet to see if the allergy is food-related, or blood, saliva, or skin tests to help identify the cause.
How will a veterinarian diagnose allergies in my dog?
Diagnosing allergies in dogs is an exclusion process, first checking for any external parasites to see if that is the issue. The same goes for suspected food allergies, with your veterinarian recommending a food elimination diet. They will also consider the season, since the change from winter to spring can trigger allergies. At San Dimas Pet Clinic, we also conduct a thorough examination, looking for things such as bacteria or yeast infections on their nail beds, which can cause itchiness.
Identifying an allergy can take several months as environmental and food factors are eliminated and reintroduced. You must understand the energy, time, and commitment of seeing an allergy situation through and getting it under control for the sake of your dog. Sometimes the specific allergy is never identified, and we can treat your dog with medications to control the symptoms despite not knowing exactly what’s causing them.
How are dog allergies treated using anti-inflammatory therapies?
There are excellent topical therapies, corticosteroids, and injectables for dogs today that we can use in combination to treat allergies. A combination of medications will stop the itch and treat any underlying infection. When referring to anti-inflammatory therapy, we're talking about steroids which have become a much less common treatment. Today, we use drugs that act by blocking allergies.
At San Dimas Pet Clinic, our go-to anti-inflammatory therapy is omega-3 fatty acids. They’re available over-the-counter and are a natural anti-inflammatory for pets. Allergic responses cause inflammation in the skin or the ears, and we want to get that inflammation under control because it can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections if left untreated.
How is shampoo therapy used for a dog's allergies?
Shampoo therapy is crucial because it removes surface antigens — such as molds, spores, pollens, and low levels of bacteria and yeast — and helps control those irritants and avoid infection. Shampoos also help with the skin barrier and help to rehydrate and soothe the skin, making your dog feel much better.
Another fascinating fact about shampoo is that veterinary dermatologists use it to treat super-resistant infections that we don't have antibiotic therapy for, reducing surface bacteria and successfully treating the infection. Shampoo therapy and topical therapy are extremely valuable in combination. If shampoo therapy works to alleviate the symptoms of allergies, you can often avoid having to give your dog oral antibiotics.
What are dog allergy shots?
Dog allergy shots are a treatment known as hyposensitization. Blood is drawn from your dog and sent to a laboratory, which will then assess the sample and determine the specific causes of the allergies. From there, your veterinarian will formulate a solution containing tiny amounts of the allergen. Eventually, your dog’s reaction to those particular allergens will decrease over time as they build tolerance.
Hyposensitization plays a role in treating dogs with allergies, but many other excellent medications work as well. They just require some patience and an understanding that it’s not something we can get rid of immediately — it's a process. Allergies generally aren’t cured but are controlled.
If you live in or near San Dimas, CA, we’d love to see your dog if they’re exhibiting any signs of allergies, so please don’t hesitate to call us at (909) 294-7478.