Dog Allergy Symptoms: Watch For Scratching

Dog skin with reddness (caption: Dog Allergy Symptoms)If you have ever suffered from allergy symptoms, you know how miserable they can make you feel. The world is foggy, your brain is dull, your eyes and skin itch incessantly, your sinuses are like a dripping faucet and you are tired and lethargic. In a word, allergies make you feel miserable. Dog allergy symptoms are very similar, and they can feel miserable too.

Article Overview

Is My Dog Having An Allergic Reaction?

Although they can’t tell you what’s wrong, you can usually detect a problem when they start scratching. This is the first sign that your dog is suffering from symptoms that are often an allergic reaction.

The difference between scratching as an allergic reaction and normal scratching is the frequency and intensity of the scratching. If your dog seems to be scratching without relief from the itch, it is most likely that it is an allergy symptom. Normal itches are relieved with a simple scratch.

Note that in the case of allergies, the scratching is also often accompanied by continuous licking. These are the most common and obvious symptoms of a dog allergy. You may also notice that your dog is less energetic than usual – the canine version of the foggy blur experienced by humans.

Types Of Dog Allergies

Essentially, dog allergies fall into five categories:

  1. Inhalant
  2. Flea
  3. Food
  4. Contact
  5. Bacterial

Inhalant Allergies

The most common canine allergic condition is called atopy. This is a malady caused by house dust, outdoor pollens, and human dander; in other words, possibly anything your dog comes into contact with in their environment. Because there are so many possible causes of inhalant allergies, this category’s irritants are also the most difficult to diagnose. One way to minimize inhalant allergens in your home is to get an air purifier.

Symptoms & Treatment

  • Relentless scratching
  • Obsessive licking all over the body
  • Patchy bald areas from all the scratching and itching
  • Saliva may stain light colored hairs, resulting in orange or reddish brown hair
  • Rubbing around the eyes, ears, armpits, groin or inside the thighs

Dog allergy test (caption: Best At-Home Dog Allergy Test Kits)

Dog Allergy Testing

These same symptoms could indicate additional allergens as well. Therefore, it is best to rule out all other possible irritants first, and then, if the symptoms persist, consult your vet for allergy testing or consider an at-home dog allergy test.

Flea Allergies

Fleas are a major problem. If your dog has fleas, your home will soon be infested as well, so whether or not your dog is allergic to the fleas, you will undoubtedly want to be rid of them. The flea is not the actual allergen; rather it is the flea’s saliva that causes the terrible discomfort for your dog.

Symptoms & Treatment

These symptoms are commonly seen on the back half of the dog, but they can appear anywhere on the body.

  • Persistent scratching (especially around the tail)
  • Loss of hair
  • Scabs on the skin

The best way to beat an allergic reaction to fleas is to first, get rid of the fleas, and second, take preventative measures to ensure that the fleas never come back. Medications and flea collars are best for this purpose.

Food Allergies

A very common dog allergen is food. Dogs are most likely to be allergic to any of the grains commonly found in dog food including corn, oats, wheat or whey. They can also be allergic to the dairy products or any of the meats such as beef, chicken, pork, lamb or fish.

Symptoms & Treatment

Food allergens typically present with gastrointestinal issues and skin irritations together. If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, or if he is scratching incessantly, consider first his dog food.

Although dogs can be allergic to any food, the most common are corn and wheat. These ingredients are often used as fillers in dog food, so you can try a diet that doesn’t have corn or wheat and see if the symptoms go away. If, after approximately 2 months, the symptoms subside, you will know that he was suffering from corn and/or wheat and you can steer clear of these ingredients in the future.

Contact Allergies

Contact allergies are reactions to something the dog has directly touched. The most common causes are topical medications, fabrics on bedding or furniture, plastic toys, food bowls or even flea collars. Your dog could even be allergic to other pets in the family or, worse yet, you.

Symptoms & Treatment

  • Reddish skin
  • Pimple-like protrusions that seep pus
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips or eyelids
  • Sneezing

Unfortunately, the only real solution to contact allergies is to remove the culprit from the dog’s environment altogether. The good news, however, is that contact allergies are the least common of all dog allergies.

Bacterial Allergies

Pustule on dog
Pustule on dog

All dogs have some Staph bacteria on them. This is normal. What isn’t normal is when, on occasion, a dog develops an allergic reaction to the bacteria. When this happens, your dog will suffer hair loss in small random patches all over his body. These patches can become raw from scratching, and then they become infected.

Symptoms & Treatment

  • Pimple-like pustules
  • Dry patches of flaking skin
  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • Odor

The only way to treat bacterial allergies is with antibiotics.

Allergies Can Cause Staph Infection

Kimberly, a writer for Canine Journal, took her dog, Sally, to the vet after she noticed her scratching and licking excessively. This is her experience below.

Sally had been licking and scratching a lot, and her belly and armpit areas were red. We applied some cortisone, which helped reduce the redness, but it never completely resolved itself. Allergies weren’t on our minds at all since it was winter. In fact, we thought she was suffering from extremely dry skin because it was a particularly brutal winter.

We decided Sally needed to see a vet since it wasn’t getting better. The vet took one look at her and knew it was allergies within seconds. The vet said it was most likely some type of indoor allergen since Sally spent a majority of the winter inside where it was warm.

Sally had irritated the area enough for her also to develop a Staph infection. I asked the vet how she knew Sally had a Staph infection. She said the pus-filled lesion and her dry, flakey skin were tell-tale signs.

I felt a lot of guilt for not getting Sally into the vet sooner, but I was also glad she was getting the care she needed. The vet prescribed Cephalexin (an antibiotic) and Prednisone (a steroid) to help alleviate the allergies and get rid of the Staph infection. The vet also told me that this was the most common illness she sees during the winter.

Allergies Are A Common Skin Problem

If your dog is scratching more than usual, start paying close attention to the triggers listed above. In most cases, you should be able to diagnose the problem on your own and then take appropriate measures to protect your dog from the allergens that most affect him.

If you are not able to figure it out on your own, however, you should consult your vet for a skin test that will be able to tell you for sure what your dog needs to avoid to be healthy, comfortable and happy.

Skin problems, including allergies, are among the most common illnesses for dogs. Find out what other common skin issues dogs have, so you know what to watch for.

Pet Insurance May Help Pay The Bill

Chronic health concerns can lead to lots of vet visits and bills. In other words, your dog’s allergies could be a very expensive problem. But, if you have pet insurance before your dog is diagnosed with the issue and are still active with that policy, there is a good chance that these vet bills could be at least partially covered by your carrier. Now would be a good time to take a look at your policy and give the company a call to see if they can help you make an already irritating ailment a little less financially painful. Or, if you have a new puppy and are worried it may have allergies in the future, be sure to signup for a reliable pet insurance policy before the condition is considered a pre-existing condition.

From which allergies does your dog suffer?

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