How to Recognize Allergies in your Dogs

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Being allergic to something was once a mysterious and often fatal disposition for many humans, and may have been the truth behind stories of curses and hexes. Nowadays we are able to identify allergies early on, and those affected are able to manage their exposure to the allergens on a daily basis. We also have medications which are used as pretreatments to help lower the symptomatic response, such as antihistamines.


Although we may appear vastly different from the many forms of fido, they are still prone to similar ailments to us, such as having an allergy. Although in a dog, it can be hard to know whether they have any allergies, or even what they’re allergic to, as they can’t communicate with us effectively. Learning to recognize and treat allergies in your dog can not only help to alleviate the discomfort that an allergic reaction brings, but also ensure their health in the long term.


Here is an overview of how to identify their allergies, as well as a look at what to look for in allergy remedies for dogs.

Which Breed’s on your Lead?

Before looking for signs of allergies, it can be helpful to consider which breeds are prone to having allergies. The types of allergies which affect dogs are typically split into two categories: airborne allergens and food allergens.

Airborne Allergens

Similar to what we call hayfever, airborne allergies are a reaction to material in the air, and while any dog can be allergic, the following are more prone:


  • Boston Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Chinese Shar-Peis
  • Dalmatians
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Shih Tzus
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Wirehaired Fox Terriers

Food Allergies

In our dogs, food allergies are far less common than airborne allergies, and again while any dog can be allergic, the following are considered more prone:


  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • West Highland White Terriers

Know Your Allergens

Knowing what dogs are typically allergic to, in both airborne and food allergies, can help with the rigorous elimination process that must be undertaken should an allergy be identified.

Typical Airborne Allergens

The airborne allergens which affect dogs are also capable of affecting us, such as:


  • Tree pollens (ash, cedar, oak, etc)
  • Grass pollens
  • Weed pollen (especially ragweeds)
  • Molds and mildew
  • House dust mites

Typical Food Allergens

The typical food allergens seem rather innocuous and are common in dog foods, especially kibbles, they are:


  • Beef
  • Chicken and chicken eggs
  • Corn and wheat
  • Soy
  • Milk

Signs to Look for

Although they’re caused by vastly different things, allergic reactions in dogs tend to produce the same results, often irritated skin which causes excessive itching. 

Signs of Airborne Allergies

As they result in similar symptoms (itching), it’s important to pay close attention and take note of when your dog starts showing signs of allergy. If the allergy is airborne, it will likely be seasonal and show between their first 6 months and 3 years. Their abdomen, ears, face, feet, and front legs are the most frequently affected areas, although scratching all over is common. Excessive scratching can lead to secondary signs of wounds, scabbing, ear and skin infections, hair loss, and scaly skin. Other signs of airborne allergies include licking or biting the paws and rubbing the face and eyes. While the skin is the most afflicted by the airborne allergens, 15% of dogs are prone to develop inflammation inside the nose, as well as asthma.

Signs of Food Allergies

Due to the sheer variety of ingredients in modern dog foods and dog treats, if your dog has a food allergy, it will become apparent relatively quickly. The signs are similar to airborne allergies, except without seasonal variation in the amount of itching. 


In some cases, your dog may have both food allergies and airborne allergies, making diagnosis of either a difficult process.


Before going out and getting allergy remedies for dogs from your local vet to help fido with their itchy scratchy skin, you will need to undertake a full diagnosis.

Diagnosing Airborne Allergies

While there are no specific tests which a vet can do to identify airborne allergies, there are factors which can give the vet necessary information. They will diagnose based on the dog;s age, breed, disease history, and the aforementioned signs of allergies. Allergy testing can be used to identify offending allergens to help formulate a treatment program, but it cannot diagnose allergies.

Diagnosis Food Allergies

Diagnosing food allergies requires formulating an elimination diet with your vet which not only provides all necessary nutrients but also doesn’t include anything they were previously fed. This is something which must be formulated with your vet to ensure that the test doesn’t harm your dog.


Once you’ve diagnosed your dog’s allergies with your vet, they will advise you on a treatment plan that is tailored to your dog. Be sure to stick to this, and seek advice before giving them any allergy remedies for dogs.

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