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Vet Talks: How to Alleviate Dog Allergies

Posted 2020-11-12

doctor amanda nascimento and a dog

You’re relaxing at home with your dog at your feet when suddenly they begin to scratch an itch. They fold themselves almost entirely in half and stretch way out to reach the itchy spot. It’s usually kind of cute. But your dog has been itching more and more lately. You applied their flea treatment not too long ago; fleas shouldn’t be to blame. What could be causing such constant itching? Your dog might have allergies.

Allergies are quite common in dogs and might be the culprit for your pup’s itchiness. Here’s how you can help your canine companion feel better quickly.

What Are The Symptoms?

An allergic reaction happens when your dog’s immune system overreacts to an allergen as it mistakenly interprets the benign allergen as a threat and sends antibodies to combat it. That histamine-based response may be what is causing the itching.

The symptoms of allergies in dogs can include excessive itchiness or scratch, especially of the paws, belly, and tail area. There may also be discharge from your dog’s eyes, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your pup could also show excessive sneezing or wheezing breath.

white and black dog scratching itchy belly

What Causes Dog Allergies?

Dogs can be allergic to lots of things, just like people. There are a few types of allergies that are usually caused by something in their environment or something in their food. Environmental factors can include things like:

  • flea bites
  • pollen
  • molds or mildew

Food allergens are typically caused by a specific protein or carbohydrate in your dog’s diet.

How Can I Relieve My Dog’s Allergies?

Your first step should always be a trip to your veterinarian. If you suspect your dog has allergies, your vet can perform an allergy test to determine what, if anything, your dog is allergic to. Not all environmental or seasonal allergens can be detected with testing, but if so, your vet may prescribe medication to help alleviate your dog’s symptoms.

Food allergy testing is commonly done with an elimination diet. You start by eliminating one type of protein or carbohydrate from your dog’s diet for eight to twelve weeks. This time is necessary for your dog’s body to flush out all traces of the potentially offending food source.

After the time has passed, if you see a marked improvement, congratulations! You found what was ailing your pet, and can avoid it in the future. If not, you can consult with your veterinarian again, and possibly try new food to eliminate.

Once you find a diet that works for your pup, you can also try rotating it every three or four months. It’s possible for dogs who have eaten the same thing for years to suddenly become allergic to it, so rotating your pet’s meals every few months can help prevent this.

Flea allergy dermatitis is pretty easy to diagnose and treat, as the presence of fleas on your dog’s body is an obvious visual cue. Treatment usually consists of applying a topical or internal medication that kills fleas before they can bite.

small grey dog itching himself

Can I Do Anything Else?

There are natural remedies you can add to your dog’s care routine, though these solutions should be used only after consulting your veterinarian and in conjunction with their recommendations.

There are also natural supplements for allergies in dogs. Look for ones developed by veterinarians.

If you’re trying the food elimination treatment or medication needs time to kick in, so your dog is still itching their skin, especially to the point of bleeding, you can try giving your pup a weekly bath with specially medicated shampoo. Look for one tailored for your dog’s condition, whether that’s allergies, dry skin, or fleas.

With the right combination of medication and at-home habits, your dog’s allergies can be under control before you know it.

Natural Support

We recommend a few different supplements that can be very helpful in these cases:

  • Alge-Ex helps to naturally reduce symptoms during acute seasonal allergy attacks and helps support healthy histamine and immune response
  • Stimmune helps strengthen the body against infection and also is great to use for pet’s suffering from food allergies
  • All Clear Ointment helps soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and helps heal bacterial, fungal, and viral infections
  • Ouch Away Spray soothes and helps heal irritated skin, stimulates hair regrowth, and bolsters a weakened immune system
  • Resp-Aid helps fight infection, relieves shortness of breath and helps relieve upper respiratory congestion

Dr. Amanda Nascimento, DVM, MVSc., PhD completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.

Follow Dr. Amanda’s vet talks blog series

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