Does Your Dog Have Allergies?

Constant scratching, tail-chasing, coughing and wheezing, eye and nose discharges – if these symptoms can be observed on your pet dog, chances are very likely that he/she is suffering from allergies.

Yes, dogs, just like their masters can suffer from allergies. Roughly about 20 percent of the dogs living in our homes suffer from some allergy type. Major classifications of canine allergies are atopic dermatitis, flea allergy, food allergy and inhalant allergy.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is skin allergy disease caused by hypersensitivity developed by your dog’s immune system to several and very common substances like molds and dust mites.

If your dog scratches and licks himself very often (particularly licking and chewing the paws, abdomen and legs), and his/her ears are hot to the touch, he/she may be suffering from atopic dermatitis.

Flea Allergy

Flea allergy is the most common form of canine allergy. However, it is not the flea but the flea’s saliva that your dog may be allergic to. To find out if your dog has flea allergies, a skin allergy test is preformed. If it he/she is tested positive, a strict control regimen can reduce symptoms. Consult you’re your vet as to what type of treatment is best for your pet. There is a wide array of choices ranging from pills to sprays to shampoos.

Inhalant Allergy

Just like their masters, dogs are susceptible to allergens inhaled from the air. Pollen from trees, grass, and flowers, dust mites and molds are just some of the common culprits. However, unlike their masters who exhibit inhalant allergies through sneezing and coughing, dogs show their reactions through scratching and biting as well as chewing of feet and licking constantly.

Food Allergy

Dogs also exhibit allergies to the food they eat. And this is perhaps the most tedious to diagnose because food allergies can mimic any of the other allergies mentioned in this article. First thing to do is to remove all possible allergy causing ingredients from your pet’s diet. You can do this by using a homemade meal of a protein and starch source your dog has not had before. Add gradually (one at a time for about a week), more ingredients into it. If symptoms return after adding a particular ingredient, then the possible allergen could be identified.

However, allergic reactions may not appear for about a week after consuming the allergen so be sure to confirm your findings with your vet. Once it has been verified, avoid the ingredient in the dog foods you’ll subsequently feed your pet with.

You can help your pet and alleviate his allergy woes by bathing and conditioning your dog regularly. Contrary to what most people will tell you, you can never bathe your dog too often. Water helps to relieve your dog’s skin and keeps it healthy. It also rinses off allergens from their body. Different kinds of shampoos are available to treat allergies, depending, of course, on your pet’s particular condition.


Corticosteroids are also a useful for controlling allergies by reducing the inflammation in your dog’s skin. Although it will weaken the immune system a bit, it is often necessary in order to treat the allergy. Some side effects are increased appetite and drinking, and higher chances of developing infections. It is therefore not recommended for long-term use. If a longer duration of use is necessary, your pet has to have regular check up on his/her blood and urine. 

Skin and blood testing is performed to find out what substances causes your pet’s allergies. These substances then are given to your dog in small but increasing amounts via injections. Over a period of time, the dog becomes desensitized to the substances and no longer exhibits allergic reactions to them.

Finding out what allergies your pets are suffering from and the allergens that cause them may be a tedious, pain-staking process. But it is worth the effort especially as you see the relief you give your dog translate to a pet that’s in a better disposition and mood, perhaps in gratitude for the time you’ve spent to understand and take care of their ailments. Sometimes, even changes in behavior.

Prednisone, a short-acting steroid, can be used orally and is safer than the long-acting steroids. Taken with antihistamines and Omega fatty acids and frequent bathing, these short-acting steroids can be used effectively in the least amount used. An allergy injection, also called immunotherapy, is a series of treatments meant to produce immunity to substances your dog is currently allergic to.


Other symptoms of food allergies are vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing and Relief.

Common reaction is recurrent infections in your dog’s ears. You can help alleviate the allergy by vacuuming frequently and dusting the areas your dog spends much time in (like his sleeping area).

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.