An allergy is a condition in which the immune system is overly sensitive or reactive to a specific substance known as an allergen. Proteins from plants, insects, animals, or foods make up the majority of allergies.
The immune system becomes sensitized after being exposed to the allergen frequently over the course of months or years, and it overreacts when exposed again to the same or a closely related allergen. When a dog has allergies, the immune system, which typically guards against infection and disease, may potentially cause more harm than good. Consider allergies as an unneeded, healthy immunological reaction to a foreign, benign material.
Allergies cause diverse immunological responses that are highly intricate. In the majority of reactions, allergen protein molecules combine with blood antibodies before attaching to a kind of cell known as a mast cell. The body’s many tissues contain mast cells. Mast cells react with the antigen and antibody, releasing powerful chemicals like histamines that lead to local inflammation including redness, swelling, and itching. The many symptoms connected to an allergic reaction are caused by this inflammation.
What are the symptoms of allergies in dogs?
Itching of the skin, either localized (in one place) or generalized, is the most typical sign of allergies in dogs (all over the body). The respiratory system may be involved in some cases, causing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. There may occasionally be a runny discharge coming from the nose or eyes. In some instances, the digestive tract is affected by the allergy reactions, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
How common are allergies in dogs?
Unfortunately, dogs of all breeds and backgrounds frequently have allergies. The majority of affected dogs are older than one or two years old, and the majority of allergies start after the pet is six months old.
Are allergies inherited?
It’s believed that some allergies are hereditary. Atopy, or allergies to pollens and plants, are inherited allergies (see “What is inhalant allergy (atopy) and how is it treated?” below).
What are the common allergy-causing substances (allergens)?
Allergens can be found in a very wide range of substances. The majority are proteins from insects, plants, or animals, but allergies can also be brought on by small chemical compounds. Pollens, mold spores, dust mites, shed skin cells (similar to pet allergies in humans), insect proteins like flea saliva, and various drugs are a few examples of common allergens.
What are the different types of allergy?
There are various categories in which to place allergies. The following are some classification examples:
- Allergens include food and flea allergies.
- Food allergy, skin contact allergy, or inhalant allergy are the three ways that allergens can enter the body.
- Time it takes for an immunological reaction to occur, including delayed-type hypersensitivity and immediate-type hypersensitivity, often known as anaphylaxis or shock.
- Clinical indicators such as allergic dermatitis or bronchitis
- Seasonal allergies or atopy are inherited variants.
What is flea or insect bite allergy and how is it treated?
An excessive inflammatory reaction to an insect bite or sting is known as an insect bite allergy. Sensitive dogs may experience an allergic reaction to arachnids like spiders and ticks as well as insects including fleas, blackflies, deerflies, horseflies, mosquitoes, ants, bees, hornets, and wasps.
The most frequent insect allergen in dogs, flea saliva causes flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Most dogs who get flea bites only notice slight local discomfort. A single bite will cause the FAD dog to experience intense local itching. A dog with FAD will bite and scratch themselves and may lose a lot of hair, particularly towards the base of the tail. In the regions of skin damage, bacteria may grow and cause a secondary infection.
Strict flea management is necessary since a dog with FAD can have problems from just one flea.
Strict flea management is necessary since a dog with FAD may experience problems from just one flea. Considering the flea life cycle, this is challenging, but you may give your dog a pest-free environment by using contemporary monthly flea preventives and at-home treatments ” (see handout “Flea Control in Dogs for additional information). Your veterinarian can provide you with advice on flea prevention for your dog and other pets. Your veterinarian may recommend antihistamines or corticosteroids (steroids) to inhibit the acute allergic reaction and provide rapid relief when strict flea treatment is not possible or in situations of extreme itching. An appropriate antibiotic will be provided if a subsequent bacterial infection is present. See the handout on “For additional information on this kind of allergy, see Dogs with Flea Allergy Dermatitis.
What is inhalant allergy (atopy) and how is it treated?
Atopy in dogs is frequently referred to as an inhalant allergy. Tree pollens (cedar, ash, oak, etc.), grass pollens, weed pollens (ragweed), molds, mildew, and home dust mites are the principal inhalant allergens. Ragweed, cedar, and grass pollens are just a few of the seasonal triggers for many of these allergies. Others, like mold, mildew, and house dust mites, exist all year long. These allergens are inhaled by people, and the resulting allergy is most commonly characterized by upper respiratory symptoms, such as runny eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing (hay fever). While allergic rhinitis and bronchitis can occasionally be symptoms of allergies, most dogs with inhalant allergies experience itching skin (pruritus). The disorder is additionally known as inhalant allergic dermatitis because of these clinical symptoms. The dog might lick its feet, touch its face, or itch its axillae (underarms).
“Atopy symptoms can be managed, but a cure is typically not attainable.”
Most canines with inhalant allergies begin to exhibit symptoms between the ages of one and three. Affected dogs frequently react to multiple allergens and frequently have flea or food allergies at the same time. The dog should be kept as far away from the allergens as possible if they can be identified by intradermal skin tests (skin testing) or blood tests. This is challenging, and recurrent episodes are probably in your future because the majority of these allergies are environmental. Although atopy’s symptoms can be managed, a full recovery is typically not attainable.
The length of the particular allergy season has a significant impact on treatment. One or more of the following three therapies may be used:
inflammatory medicine. In the majority of cases, treatment with anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids or with antihistamines will immediately stop the allergic reaction. In rare circumstances, adding fatty acids to the diet can enhance how well the body reacts to steroids and antihistamines. There are more recent alternatives that prevent particular chemical signals linked to dog itch. These medicines include long-acting injections like Cytopoint and daily oral treatments like oclacitinib (trade name: Apoquel). If you’re unsure about whether these medications are right for your dog, your veterinarian can assist you.
Shampoo treatment. Skin that is itchy and irritated can be soothed by routine bathing with a hypoallergenic shampoo. Taking a bath also removes allergens from the coat and body that could be absorbed via the skin. Anti-inflammatory chemicals are also found in some therapeutic shampoos, which may be of further value to your pet.
therapy for hyposensitization or desensitization. An allergy injection serum or allergy shots can be administered to the patient if allergy testing is able to pinpoint the precise problematic antigens. Weekly injections of minuscule amounts of the antigen are used in this treatment. The aim of this frequent dose is to rewire or desensitize the immune system. The effectiveness of this treatment varies. The clinical signs of about 50% of treated dogs will significantly improve, and about 25% more will have a reduction in the amount or frequency of corticosteroid use.
For further details on this kind of allergy, refer to the handout titled “Inhalant Allergy in Dogs.”
What is food allergy and how is it treated?
Almost any protein or carbohydrate component of food can cause food allergy or hypersensitivity to develop. Food allergies in dogs are most frequently triggered by the protein in the food; these foods include dairy products, beef, wheat gluten, chicken, chicken eggs, lamb, and soy. Almost any age can experience a food allergy. Any of the previously mentioned clinical symptoms, such as itching, digestive issues, and respiratory discomfort, can result from a food allergy. The precise diagnosis of a dog’s scratching can be quite difficult because a dog may have numerous forms of allergies, including both food allergies and atopy.
“Food allergies often do not react well to corticosteroids or other types of medical care.”
The majority of the time, medicinal medications such as corticosteroids are ineffective for treating food allergies. The culprit(s) in the diet must be found and removed for treatment to work. An elimination diet trial utilizing a hypoallergenic diet is the most precise method of testing for food allergies. The dog must stick to the specific diet for eight to twelve weeks because it takes at least eight weeks for the body to get rid of all other food components. Your veterinarian will provide you guidance on what to do if the treatment is successful and your pet’s clinical symptoms improve.
It must be underlined that a food trial will not be a reliable test if the diet is not supplied exclusively. During the testing period, all table meals, sweets, and flavored vitamins must be stopped. Certain chewable tablet varieties or medicines like heartworm preventive may cause issues. Your veterinarian will go through the particular dietary recommendations and limitations for your dog. For further information, refer to the brochure on “Food Allergy in Dogs.”
What is contact allergy?
The least frequent type of allergy in dogs is contact allergy. Direct exposure to allergens, such as pyrethrins present in flea collars, pesticides used on grass, wool or synthetic materials found in carpets or bedding, etc., causes it. Any age and nearly anything can cause contact allergies to develop.
There will be skin irritation and itching at the areas of contact, which are typically the feet and stomach, if the dog is allergic to any of these compounds. Problems are frequently resolved by eliminating the allergen (if it has been identified).
Attention: Allergy symptoms might mimic those of other conditions or happen at the same time as them. Therefore, avoid attempting to diagnose your dog without a veterinarian’s help. Be ready for your pet to undergo a thorough diagnostic examination to rule out any additional sources of irritation and skin issues. Your entire family must carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions if an allergy is identified in order to successfully ease your pet’s discomfort.
What allergy medications may I give my dogs?
It can be risky to treat our pets by reaching into our medicine cabinets. Veterinarians advise dog owners against making independent decisions about how to medicate their animals because human and canine reactions to drugs differ greatly. However, when administered properly, several human drugs can be safely utilized on canines.
Diphenhydramine, also known as the brand name Benadryl, is a medication that veterinarians frequently prescribe for dogs to treat allergies, anxiety related to travel, and motion sickness. Here is everything you need to know about administering Benadryl to dogs, even though you should always get advice from your veterinarian before doing so.
What can I do at home to treat my dog’s allergy?
If seeing the veterinarian is not an option, you can treat your dog’s itchy skin at home. You may treat yourself at home with things like baking soda, coconut oil, and colloidal oatmeal baths. And while you may be able to provide some comfort and minimize the itching, it’s crucial to treat the underlying issue, whether it be an allergy, flea bites, or an inflammatory disease.
When Should You Call the Vet?
Mild itching every now and then is typically not a sign of serious medical conditions, but if your dog starts to exhibit other symptoms such as persistent or frequent licking or itching, trouble falling asleep or being restless due to itching, loss of appetite, or a downcast mood, call your veterinarian right away. To prevent further skin infections and open sores, it is crucial to treat the underlying cause of the severe, persistent itching. Your veterinarian will administer the best treatment based on the cause.
However, if your dog just sometimes or mildly scratches, there are a ton of completely secure, all-natural options to address this at home. In fact, the majority of the treatments are probably already in your pantry. Continue reading for seven easy solutions that will provide your scratchy dog with lasting relief.
Before beginning any skincare routine for your dog, speak with your veterinarian, and discontinue the regimen if your dog’s problems persist or get worse.
What allergy medications can I give my dog without visiting the doctor?
A number of over-the-counter (OTC) human antihistamines have been shown to be effective in treating canine allergy symptoms, but we advise you to speak with your veterinarian before using any of these drugs.
The most popular antihistamine for people is Benadryl (diphenhydramine), which is also useful for dogs. Just be aware that because Benadryl has sedative effects, your dog may get extremely sleepy. Zyrtec and Claritin (loratadine) are additional canine antihistamines that are secure (cetirizine). They may still make your dog sleepy even though they generate less sedation than Benadryl does.
Attention: Verify that the OTC allergy medication you’re using only contains antihistamine. Some might have unsuitable substances for dogs, like decongestants.
Dosing For Dogs
- 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of body weight, administered twice daily
- Claritin: 0.1 to 0.5 milligrams once or twice daily per pound of body weight.
- Zyrtec: once or twice day administration of roughly 0.5 mg per pound of body weight
Using an over-the-counter product on your dog who has a skin infection, external parasites, or food allergies may not help and even make things worse. Consult your veterinarian if your dog doesn’t seem to be responding.
Most drug stores sell over-the-counter (OTC) human allergy medication, which is effective in treating many dogs. Diphenhydramine is the most used antihistamine for canines (brand name Benadryl). Diphenhydramine, which is also present in ProSense Dog Itch & Allergy Solutions Tablets, is safe for the majority of dogs when administered orally in the recommended dosage of 1 mg of diphenhydramine per pound of body weight. For instance, if your dog weighs 25 pounds, you would administer 25 milligrams of diphenhydramine.
offering dogs Not all dogs can safely take benadryl because it can make some energetic and some sleepy. Therefore, consult your vet before administering it to your dog.
Other over-the-counter antihistamines are available if Benadryl is ineffective for your dog, including hydroxyzine, loratadine (brand name Claritin), chlorpheniramine, clemastine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine (Zyrtec). Discuss which choice is ideal for your dog as well as the appropriate dosage with your veterinarian.
Anti-allergy Wipes and Shampoos
Giving your dog oral antihistamines along with wiping or washing allergens off of your dog will greatly assist to stop itching if your dog suffers from seasonal allergies. If your dog goes outside and rolls in the grass, you can wipe them off with a pet wipe like TropiClean Oxy Med Allergy Relief Wipes, or you can give them a regular bath using a hypoallergenic shampoo like Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo for Dogs or Perfect Coat Gentle Hypoallergenic Shampoo.
You might also give a shampoo made to lessen itching, like Nootie Medicated Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo, a try. Itching and dryness are promptly alleviated with veterinary shampoos and conditioners, such as Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo and Cream Rinse.
When shampooing a dog for allergies, it’s crucial to completely rinse the shampoo with cool water after letting the suds sit on your dog for five to ten minutes. Avoid using hot water on them because it will dry up their skin and exacerbate the irritation. To control itching, aim to bathe scratchy dogs no more than once or twice a week.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Supplementing with fish oil can help certain dogs who have seasonal allergies. that fish oil supplements, such as Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet Soft Gels, aid in reducing the swelling brought on by skin allergies and aid in the maintenance of the skin cells’ effective defense against allergens. Fish oil is not recommended for all dogs, and you can give a dog too much of it. So, before administering fish oil to your dog, discuss the proper dosage with your veterinarian.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 fatty acids that benefit dogs with allergies (docosahexaenoic acid). Dogs can metabolize GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) (found in flaxseed and evening primrose oil, respectively), although they do it poorly. As a result, they benefit most from fatty acid supplementation from fish or krill oil. Additionally, many over-the-counter fish oil supplements do not contain enough omega-3 fatty acids to be effective in treating allergies. For your dog’s dosage, ask your veterinarian.
Inflammation and an excessively hypersensitive immune system are the causes of allergies. The GALT, which is located in the gut, is the body’s biggest immune system. Probiotic supplementation may help reduce inflammation in the body and regulate the gut immune system in an allergic dog. Unhealthy or inflamed intestines with aberrant gut bacteria can lead to allergies.
Probiotics for humans should not be given to dogs as canine gut bacteria differs from that of humans. Use a product designed specifically for dogs, such as FortiFlora Powder Digestive Supplement for Dogs by Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets.
Similar to how antihistamines work, quercetin may help dogs with allergies. When combined with bromelain, quercetin has a stronger anti-inflammatory impact that helps dogs with seasonal allergies by reducing inflammation and histamine release. Therefore, seek out a supplement that has both.
The recommended dosage is 5 to 10 milligrams twice daily per pound of body weight. A 20-pound dog, for instance, would require 100 to 200 milligrams twice daily.
Quercetin is available wherever supplements are sold. Simply check the ingredients list to make sure it doesn’t include anything poisonous to dogs, like xylitol. When in doubt, seek the advice of your veterinarian’s care team regarding safe supplements.
Home cures for dog allergies may not always be effective, and you may require a prescription-strength medication from your veterinarian to relieve the itching. Fortunately, there are lots of items on the market that may be used independently or in conjunction with natural treatments for dog allergies to provide your dog the proper level of comfort, such as:
- prescribed topical medications
- oral medications on prescription
- allergy shots
Always be important to let the vet know what over-the-counter medications and complementary therapies you are currently providing your dog because they may interact with prescription drugs.
Animax Ointment (a prescribed topical medication that includes a corticosteroid, an antifungal, and an antibiotic) may be helpful if your dog develops an itchy, red hot spot. Additionally, doctors frequently prescribe topical sprays with steroids, such as Genesis Spray by Virbac, for localized hotspots of itching.
It’s time to look into prescription dog allergy treatments if over-the-counter oral antihistamines, fish oils, and topical medications aren’t working to relieve your itchy dog’s symptoms.
Steroids including prednisone, prednisolone, triamcinolone, and betamethasone were the only oral prescription choices back then. The side effects of these drugs, which included increased appetite, increased water consumption and urination, increased susceptibility to infections, and many more, outweighed the fact that they stopped allergic symptoms. In cases of food allergies, steroids are also less effective.
In some dog allergy cases, oral and injectable steroids are still used and prescribed, however there are new treatments that still eliminate itching without the unfavorable side effects.
- Although it is generally regarded as safe, some dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or appetite loss. By storing Atopica in the freezer, you can reduce the likelihood of unpleasant side effects.
- One to two hours before or two hours after eating, you must administer Atopica.
- To complete this prescription, the majority of vets demand yearly bloodwork and an examination.
- Steroids may be provided to your dog in the interim to reduce allergy symptoms as atopica takes four to six weeks to start working as a pain reliever.
Another more recent prescription allergy medication for canines is called Apoquel, and it boasts even less adverse effects than Atopica.
- To stop itching, take Apoquel, which starts working in four hours and can be stopped at any time.
- It functions by focusing on and suppressing the signaling pathway for itch and inflammation.
- It can be given for an extended period of time with a minimal frequency of side effects. It is delivered twice daily for up to 14 days.
- Dogs with pre-existing tumors or parasite skin infections shouldn’t be administered Apoquel.
Temaril-P, an oral prescription allergy drug that combines the antihistamine trimeprazine with the steroid prednisolone, may also be suggested by your veterinarian.
- Seasonal or flea allergies can be controlled with the use of this medicine.
- Prescription-strength medications should only be taken under a veterinarian’s supervision because they may have unintended side effects and raise safety issues for humans.
You might want to discuss giving allergy injections, also known as allergy shots, with your veterinarian if your dog cannot handle oral medications or if you do not want to provide oral meds to your dog over an extended length of time.
The two most popular allergy injections are as follows:
- conventional allergy injections made after a skin or blood test
- Cytopoint, a generic prescription option
Although less frequent, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy are still options you might want to investigate with your veterinarian.