Rau Animal Hospital:
2135 Jenkintown Road
Glenside, PA 19038
215-515-5542
Fax: 215-884-8851
Hours:
Mon - Fri: 8am - 9:30pm
Sat: 8am - 4pm
Sun: 8am -12pm & 1pm - 3pm
Rau Too Lower House:
2135 Jenkintown Road
Glenside, PA 19038
215-515-5542
Fax: 215-884-8851
Hours:
Mon, Wed, Fri: 9:30am-5:30pm
Tues & Thurs: 12pm-8pm
Sat: 9am -3pm
Sun: closed
 
 
 

Dog Allergies

pet health

Dog Allergy Symptoms

While not usually life threatening, allergies in dogs do cause discomfort. Most symptoms are associated with dermatologic problems but some can also lead to chronic respiratory issues in some dogs if untreated for long periods of time. Sometimes an owner will bring their dog to a veterinary appointment, suspecting a serious medical condition and end up finding out that their canine companion has an allergy.

Here are some allergy symptoms commonly found in dogs:

  • Excessive licking
  • Compulsive scratching
  • Periodic chewing on the same or different body parts or areas
  • Regularly rubbing body or body parts against the ground, walls, furniture, etc.
  • Frequent sneezing and/or wheezing
  • Skin irritation/fur loss


Dogs that suffer from allergies have abnormal skin and a less than optimal immune response which allows for secondary infections to occur. Typically, dogs do not suffer from a single allergy, but instead, dogs with sensitivities to allergens have a host of issues. You must understand that dog allergies are due to a complex set of issues that tends to change as the dog's environment changes. Because these symptoms can have several possible causes, we recommend making a veterinary appointment if you notice your dog exhibiting any of the above symptoms.

Dog Allergy Testing

The first step to determining the cause of your dog's symptoms is a thorough exam by your veterinarian. In addition to looking for external skin parasites such as fleas and mites, your veterinarian will want to do some diagnostics to help him/her determine what types of infections may be present. After diagnosing and treating for external parasites and infections, your veterinarian may want to discuss allergy testing. Once your veterinarian believes that allergies are the root cause of skin irritation/infections and discomfort, then they may recommend testing for specific allergens. There are many things to test for in determining what your dog may be causing the allergies for your dog. Dog allergens fall into the following groups:

  • Contact allergy - including many grasses and plants, dust mites and molds
  • Flea allergies - many dogs are highly allergic to flea bites
  • Food allergies - including different types of proteins
  • Inhalant allergy (Atopy) - allergens that are inhaled
     

Contact allergies such as flea, food and dust/pollen allergies are by far the most common cause of allergies in dogs. These allergens can cause an allergic reaction in the body that focuses largely on and within the epidermis, causing severe irritation. The result is a dog scratching itself to the point that skin infections and injuries can occur.

Blood allergy testing is the most common form of allergy testing because it is convenient and easy to do. To perform a blood allergy test, a small sample of the patient's blood is drawn and analyzed. It is then tested for a reaction to a vast array of geographically appropriate allergens. Blood allergy tests can also determine food allergies, as well as allergic reactions to materials like cotton or nylon. Blood tests are much less invasive and time consuming than skin allergy tests. Blood tests are the most commonly used dog allergy test.

Skin allergy testing for dogs is another form of allergy testing used by veterinarians and veterinary dermatologists today. Skin allergy testing is more invasive than blood allergy testing, because it requires sedation due to the length of time the patient needs to be still]

Treating Allergies in Dogs

It is helpful to understand that allergies cannot be cured but can be successfully treated. There are many types of treatment and include the combination of oral medication, bathing, topical therapy and even injectable antigen therapy.

Prescribing the correct allergy medicine for dogs depends largely on the symptoms that the dog is displaying, the severity of the symptoms, and preexisting medical conditions. Allergy medicine for dogs may involve one or more of the following types of therapies:

  • Anti-inflammatory therapy
  • Immune modulators
  • Food and Dietary supplements 
  • Antipruritic therapy (anti itch) 
  • Shampoo therapy 
  • Hyposensitization therapy
     

To learn which allergy medicine for dogs, and what dog allergy treatment methods will work best for your canine friend, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today. Every allergy case is different and must all be approached on a case by case basis.

Choosing The Best Dog Food For Allergies

Some dogs suffer from food allergies. The only way to determine food allergies is to do an elimination diet in which we change your dog's diet to a limited list of ingredients that contain no known allergens. These can be home cooked or commercial diets(prescription) specifically made for food allergic dogs.

We can help determine whether or not your dog has a food allergy by prescribing three possible diets: limited ingredient, novel, or prescription diet.

It is important to remember that only about 10% of all dog allergies are food-based. Also, it is important to designate between dog food allergies and schedule an allergy testing appointment and allow us to help your dog live a more comfortable life.