Dogs are like humans in that they also suffer from allergies. The most common symptom of dog allergies is itching, but the respiratory tract may also be affected, which could lead to coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. There are also cases where the eyes and the nose are affected by dog allergies, developing a discharge, or the digestive system becomes troubled, causing vomiting or diarrhea.
In the United States, approximately 20% of dogs suffer some type of allergy, including atopic dermatitis, flea allergy, food allergy, inhalant allergy, contact allergy, or bacterial allergy. These dog allergies differ in their symptoms and treatment used. Below are brief discussions of each of these dog allergies.
One of the many dog allergies is known as canine atopic dermatitis. The condition is caused by the dog’s immune system hypersensitivity to common substances in the environment, like dust mites or molds.
Atopic dermatitis usually occurs during the first two years of a dog’s life. One of the veritable first signs of this type of dog allergy is excessive grooming, with licking or chewing of the paws, abdomen, and hind quarters. You can also check the following areas for signs:
- Ears to see if they are reddened and hot to the touch
- Armpits, between the toes of the paws, and groin
- Saliva to see if there’s staining
- Abdomen to see if it changes color from a pinkish to angry red or black mottling (chronic cases only)
Out of all dog allergies, flea allergy dermatitis is the most common. The allergy is actually caused, not by the flea itself, but by their saliva, which causes the allergic reaction. Symptoms may be reduced through a strict flea control regimen, but you should be careful that the flea preparations used are not harmful to the dog.
Dogs, like humans, may also be allergic to pollens (tree, grass, and weed), dust mites, molds, and chemicals. Inhalant dog allergies are typically caused by any or all of these environmental factors.
Pure bred or mutts can acquire inhalant allergies, but there are certain breeds that are especially susceptible to react:
- Terriers (especially the West Highland white terrier, Skye terrier, Scottish terrier, and Boston terrier)
- Golden retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Chinese shar-peis
- Shih tzus
- Ihasa apsos
- Irish setters
- Miniature schnauzers
This type of dog allergy exhibits symptoms like scratching, biting, chewing at the feet and constant licking.
Dogs can become allergic to food they’ve been eating for years. That’s why many people overlook the possibility of a food allergy. Unlike other common dog allergies, food allergies only account for 10 percent of allergy problems in dogs. The foods that dogs often cannot tolerate include:
- Soy products
- Chemical preservatives
- Artificial sugars
There are several other dog allergies, of course, that it’s nearly impossible to name all of them. For more information on the symptoms and what you can do to help your dog, contact your local veterinarian for some advice.