Many dog lovers don’t know that their four-legged friends can suffer from allergies. Just like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to substances (allergens) in the air, on their skin, and in their food. An allergic reaction to something in the air or to something which has come in contact with the dog’s skin is generally referred to as an “environmental allergy”. An allergic reaction to food is referred to as a “food allergy”.
- Tree, grass, and weed pollen
- Mold spores
- Dust and dust mites
- Cleaning products
- Food ingredients (corn, wheat, soy, ect.)
- Prescription drugs
When a dog has allergies his immune system begins to recognize certain substances as dangerous. Even though the substance is harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies will have an atypical reaction as the body tries to rid itself of what it perceives to be a dangerous substance. In humans, allergic symptoms manifest themselves in the respiratory tract. However in dogs, most allergic symptoms involve the skin—regardless of the cause (environmental or food). Allergies must be diagnosed and treated by a vet, but here’s what to look for.
Common Symptoms of Allergies
- Red or irritated skin
- Intense scratching, licking, and chewing of the skin
- Inflamed patches of skin, hair loss, and foul odor
- Rubbing of the face and ears
- Inflamed ears or recurrent ear infections
- Recurrent hot spots on the skin
- Coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose
- Vomiting or diarrhea
How to check for symptoms
To check your dog for symptoms you can take the ESP Examination: ears, skin, and paws.
Ears: check your dog’s ears for a waxy discharge, redness, or a foul odor. The presence of these may indicate an allergy. Dogs with allergies are prone to ear infections so frequent persistent ear infections may also be a sign of allergies.
Skin: this is the most important part of the examination since most allergies manifest on the skin. Check for redness, hot spots, loss of hair, scabs, crusts, and a foul odor. Be on the lookout for scratching, licking, and rubbing—especially in the belly and groin region.
Paws: check the paws for redness, inflammation, and hair loss. Dogs with itchy irritated paws will constantly lick and chew their feet. If your dog is licking his paws or rubbing them against the carpet, he probably has allergies.
The symptoms of allergies are somewhat generic in nature and can be confused with other disorders so it’s best not to diagnose your dog without veterinary assistance. If your pet is showing any allergic symptoms contact your vet immediately. They will help identify the trigger and recommend an appropriate cause of action.