Caitlin UltimoHealth / Symptoms & Solutions

Lick, Lick, Scratch! Pet Allergy Symptoms and Solutions

Have you ever wondered “can dogs have allergies?” Whether it’s caused by his puppy chow, an insect bite or something in the environment, an angry red dog rash is a clear indication of an allergic reaction in dogs. But canine sensitivities can present themselves in a variety of ways, from scratching and stomach pain to excessive licking or a change in behavior. “The most common types of chronic allergies we see in dogs are associated with food, hypersensitivity to the environment and fleas,” says Dennis Slade, DVM, staff veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center in New York City.

We know that it is awful to see your pet in distress, so know the common signs to look out for and get ways to ease her discomfort.

Overzealous grooming: All that licking is not your pet’s way of trying to improve her looks! Licking, hair loss and excessive scratching could mean there’s an allergic reaction in dogs that your pup is having, possibly to fleas or something in the environment, explains Slade. Can dogs have allergies to their environment? Absolutely! Just like in people, a dog rash is a clear sign of an external or internal allergy. Your pooch may focus her attention on her hind end, belly, tail or tail base or thighs. Skin scraping (in order to look for mites), fungal cultures, or biopsies can often rule out other allergy causes of skin inflammation. You could also give your pet treats or supplements that are rich in healthy omegas, like NaturVet Aller 911 Allergy Aid + Antioxidants Dog Soft Chews or Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Duck Biscuits Grain-Free Dog Treats, which can help to improve your pet’s coat.

GI distress and ear aches: Got a sick pup on your hands? “Vomiting, diarrhea and ear pain can signal an underlying food allergy,” says Slade. Seizures, while rare, may also be related to a food intolerance, as can chronic ear infections, he adds. You’ll know your dog is bothered by her ears if you see swelling, redness, discharge, hair loss or if she’s scratching inside and around the ear area.

Can dogs have allergies to the food they’re eating? Yes! Skin testing for food allergies is controversial and generally considered to be of little use, reports Slade. Rather, a dedicated elimination diet or food trial (feeding an alternative source of protein and carbs that your dog has never eaten before) is more commonly used in order to diagnose this condition. A limited ingredient dog food such as Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula Dry Dog Food could be worth a try, too.

Breathing difficulty and swelling: “An acute allergic (anaphylactic) reaction can cause facial swelling, including eyelids and tongue, breathing problems, lethargy, diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and even collapse,” warns Slade. This is of course, the direct allergic reaction in dogs that can be seen by any pet. “These symptoms should be considered a medical emergency and immediate attention by a veterinarian is recommended,” says Slade.

Sometimes an allergy fix is as simple as choosing a new pet soap with skin soothing benefits to clear up a dog rash such as, Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs. But getting to the bottom of a dog allergy often takes time and patience, reminds Slade. “Food trials may take weeks to evaluate and allergy vaccines could require months to become effective,” he says. “A pet allergy is often a process of elimination, requiring good communication, thorough medical examination, compliance with treatment and a willingness to truly partner with your veterinarian to solve the issue,” adds Slade.

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