Berks County dog with allergies.

Living with a dog that experiences allergic reactions can be hard for everyone involved. Not only is it agonizing to see them suffer, but it’s maddening for them to feel like they can’t stop scratching at their skin. In contrast to most human symptoms of allergies (such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes), dog allergies primarily affect their skin. Dog allergens, or triggers, vary and it can take some time to identify them. One thing is certain—the quicker they get help, the better.

The Break Down

An allergy is the immune system’s hypersensitive response to an allergen. Histamines and other substances are produced and released to combat the allergen, resulting in obvious symptoms. 

In dogs, allergens cause extreme itching. Knowing exactly what triggers an allergic reaction is critical in order to reduce frequency and severity. To help with this common canine problem, Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital provides allergy testing and dermatology services as part of treating your loved ones.

Shining the Spotlight on Dog Allergens

Allergy testing can identify why a dog presents the following symptoms:

  • Licking or biting their paws
  • Ongoing skin or ear infections
  • Shaking their head constantly
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

Common dog allergens can be broken into three groups:

  • Environmental—Pollen, mold, smoke, dust, grass, fungi, and weeds comprise the usual triggers, but perfume and chemicals are also known environmental allergens. Environmental allergies can be seasonal or year-round. 
  • Food—Some parts of a dog’s diet may trigger itching or GI trouble like vomiting or diarrhea. Common dog food allergens are egg, soy, gluten, and various meat products. This type of allergy can take a long time to develop. Recurrent ear infections, scabs, and hotspots are typically seen with food allergies.
  • Flea bite—Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when the immune system reacts to the antigens or proteins in the saliva deposited on the skin from flea bites. Dogs that experience other types of allergies are highly susceptible to flea allergy dermatitis.

Next Steps

The symptoms of allergies in dogs closely resemble those related to other illnesses or conditions. Also, some dogs suffer from more than one type of allergy. We recommend scheduling a pet wellness exam to rule out other potential problems. Then, we can dive into the types of allergies your dog may have.

Identifying Dog Allergens

Symptoms of various dog allergies overlap slightly. Allergy testing goes a long way toward identifying allergens and eliminating (or at least reducing) them from your dog’s environment. 

The intradermal skin test can reveal dog allergens in a short amount of time in order to design a treatment plan. A serum allergy test is less accurate, but it checks for antibodies in the blood. 

Once we know what triggers an animal’s allergic reaction, we can recommend various treatments, such as:

  • Oral immunotherapy or subcutaneous desensitization therapy
  • Corticosteroids
  • Hypoallergenic baths or foot soaks
  • Oral apoquel
  • Oral cyclosporine
  • Injectable cytotec

Dog allergies cannot be fully cured, but they can be effectively supported. Owners should keep their home environments spotless, the air inside as clean as possible, and all the dog’s gear laundered weekly.

Our veterinarians and staff members are happy to answer any questions about dog allergens. Please call us (610) 589-5019 to discuss testing and treatment.