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Dog Allergies

At A Glance

Dogs can suffer from various allergies involving food, skin, or environmental triggers. The common symptoms include skin itch and rashes, swelling, vomiting, hives, sneezing, runny nose, and poor coat.

Keeping them from being exposed to their triggers and seeking veterinary treatment is how you can help relieve their symptoms and prevent future allergic reactions.

Last Updated on: Feb 11, 2022

Have you been noticing your dog looking uncomfortable scratching itself more intensely than usual? Your dog is probably having an allergic reaction to something it ingested or came in contact with.

Just like for humans, having allergies can make your dog very uncomfortable. And while allergies cannot be cured, they can be treated and further flare-ups can be prevented. This article provides helpful information on the most common allergies found in dogs and how to treat and avoid them.

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Allergy Defined

An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system responds to a foreign substance that causes hypersensitivity in the body. For dogs, these are usually harmless substances like pollen, certain food ingredients, molds, or dust that come in contact with your dog’s body and trigger a reaction.

Allergic reactions could be mild or severe, episodic or long-term. To help your dog get relief from the discomfort caused by the allergy, it is important to know what type of allergy it is so you can figure out its triggers and relieve the symptoms.

Food Allergies

Although not very common, with only 0.2% of dogs in the US suffering from food allergies, some dogs can be allergic to various types of foods.

These are typically food intolerances or hypersensitivity to certain foods, but the symptoms are much like an allergy.

Determining which food ingredients are causing your dog to have an allergic reaction is the first step to resolving the issue.

The common culprit is often a protein or carbohydrate present in some foods like soy, milk, wheat, and some meats like chicken and beef.


  • Loose stool or diarrhea
  • Skin itchiness
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Poor coat or fur texture
  • Swelling
  • Constant licking
  • Ear and foot infections
  • Anaphylaxis (very rare)

How to Avoid It?

Keep a close eye on your dog whenever you give him a new food item.

Look into which ingredients usually cause allergy symptoms in dogs and find alternatives if necessary.

Once you identify the food trigger, make sure you eliminate it from your dog’s diet and provide substitutes that have a similar nutritional value without the allergen component.

How to Treat It?

To identify which specific food your dog is reacting to, a veterinarian will put your dog on a restricted diet or conduct a food trial to determine food ingredients that do not cause a reaction.

This is done until the specific food ingredient causing allergy is determined. The vet will also prescribe allergy medications to relieve the symptoms. 

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to This Allergy

  • Labrador Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Boxer
  • Bichon Frise
  • Golden Retriever
  • Bulldog
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Cocker Spaniel

Also Read: Human Foods Dogs Can’t Eat

Flea Allergies

If you see your dog scratching, licking, and biting its body almost non-stop, it’s most likely infested by fleas and having an allergic reaction to it.

Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of some animals like dogs. They are not only pesky but are dangerous carriers of diseases, which they may transmit through your dog’s bloodstream.

Make sure you check your dog for flea bites regularly. These are usually red bumps found in body folds like the armpits, elbows, ears, groin, and knees.

These pests live for around 100 days, growing from larvae to full-grown fleas capable of reproducing. They can stay burrowed in the carpet or couch fibers and then latch onto a host.


  • Excessive itching and biting of the skin
  • Bumpy and reddish bite marks
  • Flaky coat
  • Hair loss
  • Lesions
  • Scabs

How to Avoid It?

Consult a vet about the best flea and tick prevention methods for your dog based on its breed, size, and age.

You can also provide your dog with flea and tick collars for an added layer of protection.

How to Treat It?

It’s best to consult with a vet for the right flea removal plan.

You can get rid of the visible fleas but if your dog suffers from severe flea allergy dermatitis or an allergic reaction from flea bites, the vet can administer allergy blockers to relieve the dog of symptoms like extreme itchiness.

It is important to stop flea infestation because if your dog’s allergy is left untreated, it could result in your dog suffering from anemia and other blood-related diseases.

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to This Allergy

All dog breeds can be infested by fleas but dog breeds with a genetic hypersensitivity to environmental triggers are more likely to have severe reactions. Some of these breeds are as follows:

  • Terriers
  • Bulldogs
  • Beagles
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Miniature Schnauzer


dog sitting on the grass

Skin and Environmental Allergies

Apart from food and fleas, there are other allergens like mites, dust, pollen, weeds, and other air-borne substances that are present everywhere. Strong scents like cleaning products and perfume can also trigger allergic reactions in dogs.

Dogs that come in contact with such substances may have adverse reactions and show symptoms from their earflaps to paws.

Your dog may also have allergic dermatitis – canine atopic dermatitis or a genetic predisposition to pruritic inflammatory skin diseases.

Another skin allergy common in dogs is contact dermatitis where the dog’s immune system overreacts to triggers and is hypersensitive to substances that come in contact with your dog’s skin, resulting in excessive scratching and skin lesions.

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  • Excessive scratching
  • Self-biting
  • Hot spots
  • Poor coat texture
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence

Allergic contact dermatitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Itchiness
  • Soreness and swollen skin
  • Fluid discharge from the lesions
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Blisters
  • Inflammation

Environmental and other skin allergens like dust, pollen, detergents, or mites can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Itchiness
  • Face swelling, particularly the dog’s nose, eye area, and ears
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Hives
  • Skin rashes
  • Dryness


How to Avoid It?

Get rid of the allergens or keep your dog from getting exposed to these allergens.

Be meticulous with cleaning and sweep or dust off pollen or dust particles.

Keep your dog away from bushes or grass. When using strong disinfectants or detergents, keep your dog away from the scent trail.

Bathe your dog regularly using a mild shampoo.

If you can’t avoid the allergens in/around your home, finding another forever home for your dog could be the best option for their health.

How to Treat It?

Once an allergy is confirmed and triggers are identified, your vet will prescribe drugs to help relieve your dog’s specific symptoms.

Supplements, flea control, anti-inflammation treatment, and medicated baths are often part of the treatment process.

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to This Allergy

  • Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Dalmatians
  • Boxers
  • English and French Bulldogs
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Irish and English Setters
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Shih Tzus

Also Read: Common Nail Injuries in Dogs

dog in the fields

While a serious allergic response such as anaphylactic shock is rare in dogs, allergies should not be taken lightly. Dogs suffering from allergies usually show signs through their skin and gastrointestinal tract.

Provide your dogs with a safe environment and regularly check them for any allergic signs. In cases of severe allergic reactions, bring your dog to a vet for immediate treatment.


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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.