Dogs have allergies! This can become a quick and painful reality when you bring a new pup home from your local rescue. A few common types of dog allergies are: food, skin, and environment, which all come with their own challenges. The most common symptoms are: itchiness, diarrhea, vomiting, itchy eyes, incessant licking, red skin, swelling, sneezing, and hives. These allergies can overlap in dogs and become very scary if not treated and monitored.
Dog food allergies are not super common, but they are very painful for your pup. The result of a dog allergy to food could be vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. Marketers have made dogs more allergic to food than they actually are, which has led to the rise of dozens of hypoallergenic diets that many dogs are on. There’s a huge difference between an allergy and a sensitivity, which is what anyone who actually has Celiac disease will tell you. Dogs with food sensitivities can present with similar symptoms to dogs with food allergies, albeit usually much less severe and less often. The best way to manage dog allergies and sensitivities to foods is, unfortunately, to experiment with different combinations of proteins, wheats, and dairy products.
Dogs with skin allergies, called dermatitis, are the most common type of dog allergy. Three main things cause skin allergies: fleas, foods, environments. Fleas are pretty straightforward: a flea bites your dog, your dog has an allergic reaction. The skin can become itchy, red, or enlarged. Food allergies can also cause sensitive, itchy skin, as mentioned above. Environmental allergies are harder. Just like in humans, dogs can be allergic to just about anything, including most commonly dust, pollen, and mold. These are generally seasonal allergies, and result often in a lot of ear scratching and paw licking. Just like humans, there are medications that your veterinarian can prescribe to mitigate the impact of environmental allergies on your pup during specific seasons.
Sometimes your dog is just allergic to something very specific. It could be a bee. It could be a specific spider bite. It could be any number of things. Generally, dogs can go into anaphylactic shock if they have a severe reaction to a bite, sting, or other acute allergenic. These, if left untreated, can result in death. But, because anaphylactic episodes are super rare in dogs, most of these acute allergic reactions to bites and stings can be mitigated, if not completely removed, with simple antihistamines that you can find over the counter. In the worst case scenario, especially with a large amount of swelling, you should connect with your veterinarian so that she can prescribe a steroid to combat the reaction until a powerful antihistamine kicks in.