Dog Allergies: How to Tell and What to Do

Dog Allergies: How to Tell and What to Do

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 25.03.2020

There is nothing quite like the love and cuddles you share with your four-legged best friend. Unfortunately, our canines can experience health conditions and ailments just like us humans, including dog allergies. 

I’m sure you’re wondering if your dog can have allergies, can they have a cold or flu too? If your puppers starts coughing or sneezing or showing signs of abnormal behavior that makes you think twice, call your veterinarian. Your dog could be reacting to a new dog food or be experiencing seasonal allergies. More so, they may even have other conditions that require different treatments. 

Your vet can help you sort all of this out. For instance, if you’re assuming your dog has allergies, your vet will likely ask:

  • To do a physical exam
  • Request your dog’s medical history

If these precautions don’t provide all the answers you’re looking for, your vet may opt to perform additional tests to determine the underlying cause of your doggo’s grief. 

Dog Allergy Symptoms

One major distinction between flu and cold symptoms versus allergy symptoms is the infamous itch. Looking for signs of irritation and redness is a great start! Is your pup scratching more often? Are they scooting across the floor? Does their skin look red or starting to scab from too much scratching? Does the underbelly skin look irritated? How do their ears look? If they are scratching their ears, look for a possible ear infection. 



Dogs may scratch different areas with their hind limbs or may chew or lick their skin. If you suspect that your doggo has allergies, check their ears, face. belly, feet, and armpit areas for signs of issues and irritation, as these are the most frequently affected by allergies.

Look for irritated skin areas, a rash, or hives. Their itching may be focused in certain areas, which can offer a hint to the underlying source. For instance, if your doggo seems super focused on itching their back (or bum) near their tail, they may be suffering from flea allergies. 

Obsessive and constant scratching can result in atopic dermatitis, irritation of the skin due to allergens. If left unchecked or monitored, this can lead to secondary infections related to overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. If this does happen, your pup may lose hair in different areas and their skin may form crusts, scabs, and irritated areas. 

Besides the infamous itching, look for the following possible allergy symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Poor coat quality 

Diarrhea and vomiting are other allergy symptoms that are typically more associated with food allergies. In some doggos, other signs may include snoring and coughing, which can start when a dog’s throat is inflamed or sore. 

Cancel Out Other Possibilities

If you begin to notice intense hair loss and itching in areas, another possible root of the cause may be sarcoptic mange, an issue caused by mites. The major difference between this condition and food allergies is that it is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS. These little pesty mites will travel rapidly from dog to dog and dive deep into their skin, making a forever home. Gross.



Super intense scratching, whether it’s due to these mites or allergies, can lead to hair loss, especially in large patches of hair. Both conditions though can cause skin rashes. But, if your dog has sarcoptic mange, you’ll need to keep him/her on lock down (quarantine) during their treatment so they don’t infect other four-legged friends. This is another important reason why you need to seek veterinary attention right away for an accurate diagnosis. 

Dog Allergic Reactions: The Cause

Why do allergies even happen in the first place? For both us humans and dogs, they happen when the immune system gets funky. When a food or substance is flagged by the bodyguards of the immune system, the body fires out antibodies in response. The symptoms that usually follow, such as sneezing, congestion, and irritation, are meant to try and rid the offending substance or food and keep the body safe and in homeostasis. As a result, the respiratory and digestive systems can all be affected, including the skin. 

The 4 Different Types of Dog Allergies

Doggos can react to different allergens by skin exposure, through ingestion, or by simply breathing them in. A flea or mite can also cause a reaction. 

The four allergy types include:





Atopy refers to environmental allergens, such as pollen, grass, or dust mites. 

The Common Dog Allergies

After your dog has been exposed to various substances, allergic reactions come into play. Some of the most common allergens your pup’s body may respond to are:



Pollen (weeds, tree pollen, flower pollen, grass)

Flea-control and flea products are another frequent cause of allergic reactions. It can take only a few flea bites to cause several weeks or itching and irritation. Yikes. 

Various manufactured products and chemicals are also potential allergy culprits, such as:

  • Insecticidal shampoo
  • Perfumes
  • Fabrics
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Plastic and rubber materials
  • Cleaning products

Food Allergies

Those dang food allergies come out of nowhere every time! The foods you typically least expect. The possibilities may include:

  • Dairy: yogurt, cheese, milk
  • Legumes: lentils peanuts, beans, soy
  • Proteins: beef, eggs, chicken, pork, fish, lamb, rabbit
  • Grains: corn, rice, wheat
  • Root veggies: carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams

If you find that your pup is allergic to one food, it’s likely that he or she is allergic to others. While it can seem super overwhelming, it’s so important to put in the work to discover the unknown triggers for your dog’s allergies. With constant exposure, allergic reactions can become more severe. If a food is only mildly irritating the first time your dog eats it, it could cause serious problems the next time he or she eats it. 

If you do find that your dog has food allergies, there is some good news! There are alternative food options and substitutes, including kangaroo and venison. 

Skin Allergies

It may come as a shock to learn that contact with some feathers and fabrics may trigger dog allergies. Dogs can be allergic to human dander and other animal dander. If you find that your own pup is allergic to you, don’t worry too much. There are allergy meds available for this!

Best Dog Food for Dogs with Allergies

Again, if you suspect that your dog has any food allergies, get your pup tested by your vet right away. Consider switching their food to a grain-free dog food option. Going grain-free has been shown to help puppers, especially if their symptoms include vomiting, itching, loose stools, or constant ear infections, the trifecta of food allergies. 

How to Diagnose Dog Allergies

If your dog’s symptoms don’t respond to initial treatments, allergy testing may need to be what’s next. Your vet may perform one or numerous of the following:

Skin test

Blood test

Saliva test

Food elimination diet

Depending on your dog’s specific symptoms, your vet may perform a blood or skin test, if food allergies seem like the likely culprit, your vet may recommend a special elimination diet. 

Dogs Most Susceptible to Allergies

Any dog can develop allergies at any age, but there are some breeds that are more susceptible to getting them. It’s been estimated that up to 10% of all dogs get allergies. 

The breeds more commonly affected by allergies are:



Boston terriers
Irish setters
German shepherds
Golden retrievers

      How to Prevent Dog Allergies

      Some allergies are nearly impossible to avoid or prevent, especially those caused by the environment. However, there are some non-medical things you can do as a paw parent to help your pup feel more comfortable. 

      If your dog is having irritated and itchy skin, consider giving them a fatty acid supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids to moisturize their skin. Oatmeal baths and aloe sprays are alternative options as well. If you notice specific areas of inflammation on the skin, you can also apply a homemade paste of baking soda and water or oatmeal and water. These are soothing and safe remedies that you can try in the comfort of your own home. 

      Natural Home Remedies for Dog Allergies

      Oatmeal Baths

      As long as fido isn’t allergic to oatmeal, it can do wonders in a bath to help irritated skin. It’s easy to use and “el natur el”. 

      Cleaning Watery Eyes

      Are your dogs eyes super watery? Are they scratching their eyes? Is there discharge? Talk to your vet first to make sure there aren’t any infections or injuries that need other additional treatments. At home, gently clean their eyes with a warm washcloth. Try and do this once a day. 

      Coconut Oil for Flea Prevention

      Look for coconut oil that is high in lauric acid, making it more effective. You can apply it directly to their skin or put it on top of their food. Simple!

      CBD Oil 

      CBD oil has been shown to help reduce skin inflammations and irritations on us humans and dogs. Here, at Petly CBD, we have various CBD oils for your four-legged friends.

      Whether you want to use our Pet Hemp CBD Oil droplets on your dog’s food once a day or applying it directly to their coat or affected areas, it may be the all-natural option you’re looking for. 

      Dog Allergies: Final Thoughts

      Allergy treatments will vary dog by dog, there are so many options available! Sometimes, especially in difficult cases, it’s a matter of trial and error to find the most personalized and effective solution for your pup’s allergies. But when all is said and done, your pup will thank you for all the work and effort you put in towards making their life a little better!

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