Like us, some dogs suffer from allergies, which can make their lives miserable. The allergy may be relatively mild, which won’t cause your dog too many problems, but in severe cases, an allergen can cause serious health problems.
How Can I Tell if My Dog has an Allergy?
Your dog can’t speak, so you might not know he’s experiencing an allergic reaction to something in his environment or his diet. What you can do, however, is be vigilant to any unusual symptoms. These will vary according to the allergic trigger.
Skin allergies typically cause dermatitis. If your dog is scratching a lot, especially around his ears, he could have an allergy to something in his environment. Paws are a commonly affected area, so watch out for excessive paw chewing and licking.
Gastrointestinal allergies cause vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms often arise in conjunction with skin problems, such as dermatitis, itchiness, and hives.
Dogs with allergies are more prone to ear and foot infections.
Common Skin Allergens
Fleas are nobody’s best friend, least of all a dog with a flea allergy. Flea bites are incredibly itchy, but if your dog is allergic to fleas and their saliva, he will suffer greatly, even if he only has a mild infestation.
Dust mites are just as problematic as fleas for some dogs. If your dog is allergic to dust mites – and dust – be prepared to do A LOT of cleaning. Replacing carpets with hard flooring is best.
Pollen is another common allergen. Dogs with a pollen allergy tend to suffer more in the summer when pollen counts are high. Consider walking him early in the morning when the pollen count is lower. Wash his paws and coat when you get home, so he doesn’t track pollen into the house.
Mold is nasty and can cause all kinds of health problems in humans. Sadly, dogs are susceptible too, so consider mold as a potential culprit if you are not sure what’s causing your dog’s allergic reaction.
Common Food Allergies
Dogs, like humans, can be allergic or intolerant to certain ingredients in their diet. Food allergies are less common, but they can cause a lot of misery. After all, cleaning up puddles of vomit and diarrhea is on nobody’s wish list, especially not before you have to leave for work.
Surprisingly, beef is the most common culprit, which is unfortunate as it is often a key ingredient in commercial dog foods. Dogs can also be allergic to chicken or lamb, so bear this in mind.
Dairy is another common allergen, although dogs are more likely to be intolerant to lactose rather than allergic. A dairy intolerance tends to cause skin problems, whereas a dog with a true dairy allergy will suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
Soy is a potential allergen too. In addition, many holistic vets, such as Dr. Richter from Ultimate Pet Nutrition, are concerned about the wider effects of soy in dog food, which include thyroid problems and liver disease.
Some dog breeds are more prone to allergies than others. These include Dalmatians, Boxers, and Spaniels.