How to Prevent and Treat Dog Allergies
Though they walk on four feet instead of two, dogs have a ton of things in common with their human companions: They love a good meal, enjoy snuggling up in a cozy bed and always benefit from a nice walk outside. Oh, and they can struggle with allergies—just like us! According to Banfield Pet Hospital, the number of dogs with environmental allergies increased by 30% between 2008 and 2018 alone, and some reports indicate that 1 in 5 dogs will develop allergies at some point in their lives.
Itching to know more about how to protect your dog from allergies, or what to do if they already have them? Keep reading for more info about common allergens, allergy symptoms, prevention tips and treatment options.
Why do dogs get allergies?
It can be hard to pinpoint an exact reason, but allergies in dogs work similarly to the way they do in human beings: The dog’s immune system overreacts when exposed to a particular substance (aka allergen), which creates histamines that cause an allergic reaction. Though there are often environmental or dietary factors at play, genetics can contribute to a dog’s likelihood to develop allergies throughout their lifetime, too. In fact, some breeds seem to be more prone to allergies than others, including (but not limited to): American Bulldog, Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bull Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher, English Bulldog, English Setter, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Maltese, Bull Terrier, Pug, Shar-Pei and Standard Poodle.
What are the most common dog allergens?
Common allergens can fall into a few main categories:
- Environmental: Mold, dust mites, grass, fertilizer, weeds, trees, dander, cigarette smoke.
- Food: Chicken, beef, pork, wheat, corn, soy, egg, dairy.
- Chemicals: Cleaning products, perfume.
- Medication (topical or oral)
- Flea bites
What are the most common allergy symptoms in dogs?
Your pooch may present with a singular symptom, or any combination of the following:
- Itchy, red, swollen or watery eyes
- Dry, flaky, itchy skin or ears
- Skin rash, hives, hot spots or hair loss
- Licking or chewing paws
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Frequent sneezing
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Coughing or wheezing
- Ear infections
- Itchy tail or back end
- Swollen anal glands
How can I prevent allergies in dogs?
Though it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate the chances that your dog develops an allergy, there are some steps you can take to at least limit their exposure to potential allergens. The first is to prevent their paws from coming into contact with an environmental or chemical allergen. That’s where dog booties—like our Deluxe Easy-On Boot Leggings—come in handy! Made with waterproof TPE rubber booties that mold to your dog’s paw shape, they protect your pup’s paws from exposure to common allergens like grass, mold, pollen, chemicals and more when out on their everyday walks. Not only that, but our water-resistant legging fabric keeps legs protected, too!
In general, try to avoid environments with allergens you know your dog is sensitive to (i.e. grassy areas, a patio bar where they’ll be exposed to cigarette smoke, etc.). Once you come home, make sure to wipe down Fido’s fur and paws with a hypoallergenic bath wipe to remove any lingering allergens from their coat.
If your canine companion is allergic to mold or mildew, staying inside on humid or rainy days can help keep allergies in check. And speaking of inside, if your dog is sensitive to irritants like dust mites, make sure to keep floors and surfaces as clean as possible.
When it comes to food allergies, be sure to read labels carefully to keep your dog from ingesting ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction.
How do you diagnose dog allergies?
If you suspect your pup may be suffering from allergies, the first step is to consult with your vet to get their expert opinion. They’ll do a physical exam to confirm whether your dog is having an allergic reaction to an irritant, or whether their symptoms may be indicative of another ailment. Based on this exam, the vet will recommend a treatment plan and may suggest additional testing.
To narrow down exactly what your dog is allergic to, there are a number of allergy tests that can be conducted:
How do I treat my dog’s allergies?
Some dogs with mild allergies will benefit from simple over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl or Zyrtec (make sure to consult with your vet before giving it to your pup!). If this doesn’t do the trick, your vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication, such as Apoquel (an oral medication) or Cytopoint (a long-acting injection). They may also suggest supplementing your dog’s diet with Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids, which may have anti-inflammatory benefits and provide extra protection for your dog’s coat.
In some cases, your dog may be prescribed medicated eye drops, sprays, ointments or shampoos to help manage allergy symptoms and provide itch relief. And for pups with food allergies, your vet will help you determine a specific diet to follow and instruct you to avoid ingredients you know your dog is allergic to.
For serious allergy relief, pet parents can consider desensitization therapy. Performed by your vet or a veterinary dermatologist, this process involves injecting a small amount of the offending allergen into your dog on a weekly basis until the immune system is no longer reactive to the allergen.
Have a pup who tends to chew and lick their feet when their allergies are flaring up? Considering using our Indoor Sock Leggings to protect their precious paws! Similar in construction to our best-selling dog boot leggings, our Indoor Sock Leggings prevent dogs from licking and chewing their itchy paws, and keep indoor allergens off their sensitive feet.