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Dog Allergies: Symptoms And Treatment

I can remember my surprise the first time I took my dog to the vet and got the diagnosis of allergies. Like most people out there, the only dog allergies I knew of were the sniffles, sneezing and itchiness my allergic guests and family members experienced interacting with my furry buddies.

However, the reality is that in addition to causing reactions in humans, dogs themselves do suffer a lot of allergies. Some of these can be pretty serious if not dealt with promptly and properly.

As with human allergies, dog allergies are overreactions by the immune system after exposure to allergens. The allergens are non-pathogenic and in this case include things like fleas, dust, pollen and some types of food.

With dogs, allergies may affect different systems but mainly manifest with skin and respiratory symptoms that range from mild to severe and very rarely, life-threatening.

With so much at stake, you cannot afford to take chances with your pooch’s health. To help you out, below is all the information that you need to not only identify but also deal with dog allergies for a happy, healthy and safe best buddy.

Causes Of Dog Allergies

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Dog allergies are immune reactions in dogs to substances and particles that are essentially non-toxic and non-pathogenic. With such a broad definition, there is an almost endless list of things that could trigger allergic reactions in your pooch from common household items to particles in the very air that they breathe. However, there are some common triggers with most allergic pooches which could help narrow things down for you. Here are the 4 most problematic allergens.


The most common allergies in dogs are skin allergies in which case fleas are easily the most frequently implicated. Infestation could cause something known as allergic dermatitis where the dog ends up with an exaggerated response not only to the flea bites but their irritating movements within the coat.

Food allergies

Dogs are also often allergic to proteins including meats and other animal products as well as plant proteins like soy, beans, and wheat. These cause a variety of symptoms including local ones like diarrhea and vomiting and even systemic reactions like hives.


These tend to spike during spring and other blooming seasons and you will usually notice the signs after the dog spends time outdoors. The pollen causes reactions on the skin that was in contact with the ground, paws, nose, and around their mouths causing inflammation that is marked by red, swollen, and irritated surfaces.

Dust mites

These little creepy crawlers account for a large portion of dog allergies. They mainly cause skin reactions with itchiness and swelling mainly around the eyes and on the paws. They could also cause reactions in the airway if inhaled and in the ears making them particularly nasty.

How Can You Tell If A Dog Has Allergies? Common Symptoms Of Dog Allergies

Dog allergies are more common than many dog owners realize. The reason they go unnoticed so much is how subtle and general a lot of the symptoms can be. However, if you are vigilant and know what to look for you will definitely notice them. To help you out, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of dog allergies.

Itchiness and hives

It is normal for a dog to itch occasionally but if it becomes too much in terms of frequency and intensity then you may have something to worry about.

Vomiting and diarrhea

This is most commonly seen with food allergies and intolerance. What sets it apart from other causes of the same symptoms is that these usually, but not exclusively, happen soon after eating.

Coughing and sneezing

Some dog allergies affect the respiratory directly and in such cases the allergens trigger coughing and sneezing fits.

Swelling around the face

If your dog has episodes where their faces and ears just get swollen locally or generally puffy then you may be dealing with an allergy. This happens whether the allergy is on the skin, respiratory, or digestive.

Teary eyes and runny nose

These happen a lot with allergic dermatitis and respiratory allergic reactions. You will notice redness on the eyes or around the nose and increased moisture on the surfaces that may be as bad as a constantly runny nose or teary eyes.

Long term ear infections

This is a commonly missed sign of allergic reactions that is common with parasites like mites and fleas but may also occur with pollen particles that make their way into the dog’s ear.

Can Allergies Kill A Dog?

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The answer here is yes. However, this is a tentative response as cases of fatality in dogs from allergic reactions are actually very rare. However, it is a serious enough consequence that should not be ignored as a possibility.

So how can something as simple as pollen or as little as a flea kill your big and otherwise healthy dog?

Anaphylactic shock

One way deaths happen from allergic reactions in dogs is through anaphylactic shock. To put it simply, this is when the immune system really goes ham on simple allergens and ends up causing a lot more harm than good. The reactions start out like simple allergies and as the immune cells and chemicals involved continue to build up in the dog’s body, things get out of hand. This extreme reaction can be triggered by any allergen and the eventual death usually happens as a result of inflammation and subsequent blockage of the airway. 


Another potential cause of death from allergies would be excess dehydration and loss of electrolytes as a result of vomiting and diarrhea from food allergies. This happens mainly with young puppies as they are weaker and need more support to recover. However, with adults it would just cause discomfort and weakness and is easier to manage.

Indirect Means

In addition to the direct cause, allergies could kill a dog through indirect means. The most common here are infections resulting from allergic dermatitis. As the dog continues to scratch, they eventually develop open wounds which can very easily get infected. A commonly implicated culprit here is the staphylococcus group of bacteria. They move quickly from causing local infections to systemic sepsis with potentially fatal consequences. 

How Can I Treat My Dogs Allergies At Home?

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[Good To Know]: Does your dog have an allergy problem? Learn 13 different ways to handle dog allergy naturally.
Find out what these 13 methods are by clicking here!

Dog allergies are more often than not pretty easy to manage once identified. You may not even have to put them on medication. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most effective natural remedies for dog allergies using products you can easily find at home.

Discontinue the problematic food

Food allergies are very common and also super easy to manage. Just stop feeding the dog whatever it is that is causing them trouble. If it is a dog food preparation, consider switching to a new brand with different ingredients. If it is homemade food, switch out ingredients one at a time starting with the proteins and monitor for results.

Try organic food

Sometimes, it is not the main ingredients that cause the problem with food allergies but instead it is the additives. That is why organic and all-natural dog food options are such a fantastic alternative if you are dealing with these problems.

Apple cider baths

Apple cider works wonders when it comes to getting rid of many allergens that cause the dog issues. This includes bugs like mites and fleas which cannot stand the smell of the stuff. It also helps dissolve and get rid of any pollen hanging on to the fur and causing reactions.

Essential oil treatments

The most effective here include olive oil, lavender oil, chamomile extracts, and neem oil. In addition to soothing the irritated skin and calming down the agitated pooch, essential oils help to ward off fleas, mites and ticks.

SPOTLIGHT: Wonder what essential oils can keep fleas on your dogs at bay and your house smelling fragrant? Check out these 12 extremely effective essential oils that can do these miracles!
Learn more by clicking here!

Oat treatments

One of the most effective ways to soothe a dog’s irritated skin is through oat treatments. It could be a bath with oat powder added, oat pastes and masks, or even oat-based dog shampoos. These help to soothe skin after allergic dermatitis preventing major complications.

What Is The Best Allergy Medicine For Dogs?

In addition to the natural remedies, there are several medical routes you could take as a dog owner to deal with allergies for your dog. This is particularly useful with nasty reactions where the dog needs as much help as it can possibly get. In this case, it is best to consult a vet to prescribe the best medicine for your dog’s allergies. That way, you will know not only what is effective but also what is safe for your best buddy. Here are some of the best anti-itch medicines for dogs that your vet may suggest.


Allergic reactions include production of a compound known as histamine in the blood stream. This is responsible for most of the symptoms including itching, inflammation, runny nose and so much more.

Antihistamines counter the effects of the compound while also reducing its production. This makes them effective and fantastic for fast relief. Some of the best out there include Benadryl, Cetirizine, and Loratadine


Corticosteroids have an immunosuppressant effect. This means that they are fantastic when it comes to keeping the immune system from overreacting. Given their mode of action, these drugs are more often than not prescribed for prevention and not relief after the fact and are ideal for chronic allergies.

Plant-based medication

There are many plants out there with antihistamine-like effects. A wonderful example of a product that takes advantage of this is Vet’s Best Seasonal Allergy Relief. It contains powerful ingredients like nettle, kelp, quercetin, vitamins C and E which in addition to minimizing effects of allergic reactions strengthen and stabilize the immune system.

Vet’s Best Seasonal Allergy Relief | Dog Allergy Supplement | Relief from Dry or Itchy Skin | 60 Chewable Tablets
  • RELIEF FOR ITCHY SKIN - Vet's Best Seasonal Allergy Supplements help dogs with seasonal allergy discomfort by supporting proper skin moisture and helping to maintain normal histamine levels.

Related Questions

How Long Do Pet Allergy Symptoms Last?? An episode of a dog allergic attack typically lasts between 6 hours to 3 days. This is, of course, assuming that the trigger is removed in one way or another. However, the symptoms can last up to 10 days depending on the type of allergy, the level of exposure and the dog’s immune system. 

Can I Give My Dog Benadryl For Allergies? Yes, you can give your dog Benadryl. It is a highly effective antihistamine that offers quick relief with acute and chronic reactions. For safety, it is best to get a prescription and dose recommendations from a practicing vet so that you also know side effects that you may need to prepare for. 

What Are Dog Seasonal Allergies? These are allergies that appear during some seasons and disappear in others. They are caused by allergens whose appearance is also seasonal. In this case, pollen is the most common cause of seasonal reactions and causes both skin and respiratory reactions in the dog after exposure from both airborne and ground pollen. 

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