It’s never nice to see your dog uncomfortable or unwell – especially if you’re not sure what’s causing it, or how you can help them feel better. Allergies often fall into this category because they have lots of possible causes, and the symptoms can range from sneezes to hot spots. No wonder it’s so hard to figure out what’s going on.
If you suspect your dog has an allergy, the first step is to try and find out what’s causing it. Once you know that, easing your dog’s symptoms becomes much simpler.
How can I tell if my dog has an allergy?
The most common allergy symptoms in dogs are:
- Dry or itchy skin
- Scratching or licking
- Paw chewing and swollen paws
- Bald patches
- A high frequency of hot spots
- Ear infections
- Skin infections
Other symptoms that are sometimes allergy-related, but not often, include:
All these allergy-related symptoms can be caused by other things too, so even if some sound familiar, an allergy isn’t a given. A visit to your vet is the best way to find out more.
What’s causing my dog’s allergic reaction?
There are three main causes of allergic reactions in dogs. In order, these are:
1) Flea bites
Flea bites are the most common cause of allergic reactions in dogs. Being relatively common doesn’t make these any less troublesome – even a few bites can leave your dog uncomfortably itchy for up to three weeks.
2) Environmental factors
Environmental allergies are caused by a trigger in your dog’s surroundings, whether at home or outside. The most common causes of environmental allergies in dogs are:
Natural environmental allergens
- Pollen – from trees, grass or plants
- House dust mites
- Storage mites – from stored food
Man-made environmental allergens
- Cigarette smoke
- Prescription drugs
- Cleaning products
Only one in ten allergies in dogs is food-related but the culprits are worth considering, if only to rule out. The most common triggers of food allergies in dogs are:
Can I get my dog tested for allergies?
If you suspect your dog has an environmental allergy, your vet might suggest a blood test to confirm it. Blood tests are less reliable when it comes to food allergies in dogs though – so if food is the prime suspect, your vet might recommend an exclusion diet instead.
An exclusion diet means feeding your dog a hypoallergenic diet – one that avoids the most common dietary triggers. You then reintroduce these ingredients one by one to see if there’s a pattern between what your dog eats, and when their symptoms get worse.
This sounds simple, but there are lots of things to consider when it comes to an exclusion diet, so always get advice from your vet first.
What’s the treatment for allergies in dogs?
When it comes to allergy treatments in dogs, prevention is the best approach. The specific steps depend on your dog’s allergy. If dust is the trigger, try hoovering your home more often – even if it already looks completely dust-free. If you’re dealing with a flea bite allergy, give your dog their flea control treatments with clockwork precision. For food allergies, make sure the offending ingredient doesn’t feature anywhere in your dog’s diet.
This means being really strict about what your dog eats, as even a tiny amount of an allergen can trigger a reaction. For tails.com customers, this is easy. We create a specially-tailored feeding plan without the ingredient their dog needs to avoid – beef, dairy, egg, soya or wheat. Grains other than wheat aren’t often at fault, but if it looks like a problem is grain-related and cutting out wheat doesn’t help, owners can choose to exclude all grains instead: wheat, rice, oats, barley and maize.
It can take up to three months for your dog’s allergies to subside after a reaction, so it’s important to stick with any changes you make, even if they don’t seem to make a difference at first.
What else can I do to ease my dog’s allergy symptoms?
If your dog’s symptoms include itchy or angry skin, weekly baths can help ease their discomfort. You can also make changes to their diet, to help soothe their symptoms from the inside out.
Dogs on a tails.com feeding plan get a recipe tailored to these exact needs. For example, if you tell us your dog has skin issues we can include supportive ingredients like omega fatty acids. For dogs whose symptoms include digestive upsets, we can tailor their blend to include ingredients like prebiotics, that support healthy gut flora. This can make a noticeable difference to a dog’s overall health.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to allergies, but with the right advice and support, it shouldn’t be long before your dog is back to their old self. Your vet will be able to provide lots more information – and our very own veterinary and nutritionist team can too. If you’d like some tailored advice about your dog’s allergy symptoms, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.