First Aid for Dogs: Identifying and Treating Allergies


If you've ever had allergies, you know how miserable they can be. Your eyes are itchy, your nose is runny, and you feel as if your head has been stuffed into a pillowcase full of feathers. Dogs with human owners often develop some form of allergy at some point in their lives. Fortunately for us and our fuzzy friends alike, however, most dogs' allergies don't require anything more than a change in diet or environmental conditions to treat successfully!

It's easy to assume that any dog with allergies is suffering from food allergies

It's easy to assume that any dog with allergies is suffering from food allergies, but there are several other possible causes. Allergies can be caused by a reaction to something in the environment, such as pollen or dust mites. If your pup has been exposed to these allergens repeatedly over time, he may develop an allergy to them.

Allergies can also arise from something in your home--like mold spores or dander from other pets living there--and these should be investigated before concluding that it's a food problem. Finally, some dogs have true food allergies: they react negatively when they eat certain foods and do better on others (or even none).

What are the symptoms of allergies in dogs?

The most common symptoms of allergies in dogs include:

  • Itchy skin. If your dog is scratching more than usual, it's possible that he or she may be suffering from allergies.
  • Hives and rashes. These can appear anywhere on your dog's body but are most commonly found around the face and paws.
  • Red eyes with discharge or crusting over them (also called "eye boogers"). This is usually caused by seasonal pollen allergies as well as dust mites or mold spores found indoors (or both). The discharge might also cause irritation if it gets into your pet's eyes while they're sleeping at night--this is known as "sleepy eye syndrome."

How do you know if your dog has allergies?

If you've noticed that your dog is constantly scratching, chewing, or rubbing his skin--or if he's developed a rash--it's possible that he has allergies. Allergies can be difficult to diagnose because many other health problems can cause similar symptoms, but here are some signs that may indicate an allergy:

  • Scratching or chewing at the same spot on his body repeatedly (this can lead to sores)
  • Skin lesions or rashes (scabs and redness) around the face and feet
  • Itching of the ears (often accompanied by head shaking)

What are the most common allergens for dogs?

The most common allergens for dogs are dairy, grains, legumes, and eggs. Dogs can also be allergic to fish and shellfish as well as seasonal allergies. Environmental allergens include dust mites, fleas, and insect bites.

Why do some dogs develop food allergies and others don't?

While it's not clear why some dogs develop food allergies and others don't, there are a few factors that may increase the risk of developing an allergy.

  • Genetics: Some breeds of dogs have been shown to be more predisposed to allergies than others. In particular, poodles and cocker spaniels have been found to have higher rates of food allergies than other breeds.
  • Sensitivity: Your pup's sensitivity level can also play a role in whether or not he develops an allergy--some pups are more sensitive than others when exposed to certain things like pollen or dust mites; while others may not react at all! It's important that you know how your pup responds so you can treat him accordingly if necessary (e.g., only letting him outside during times when pollen counts are low).

If your dog does develop an allergy though...don't worry! There are plenty of options out there for treating them safely without putting their health at risk."

Do all dogs who eat food that contains a particular allergen develop an allergy to that food?

Allergies are more likely to develop in some dogs than others. They can also develop at any age, so if you have a young puppy and he's already showing signs of an allergy, it doesn't mean that he will always have one.

Allergies can range from mild to severe and may be seasonal or year-round depending on the allergen involved and how often your dog is exposed to it (for example: if you live in a humid climate where grass pollen is abundant). Some allergies may be temporary while others could become permanent over time if not treated correctly by your veterinarian or groomer.

Can a dog with a food allergy eat any type of food, no matter what ingredients it contains?

So, if your dog has a food allergy and you want him to eat something different than what he's been eating, can he eat any type of food?

The answer is yes. But there are some requirements:

  • The ingredient list must not contain anything that triggers his allergies (such as chicken or beef). If the list says chicken meal, then that's fine because it doesn't actually say "chicken" anywhere on it. But if it says "chicken" in big letters at the top of the ingredients list--and especially if there are other words like "meat" or "meat byproducts" right next to it--then chances are good that this will trigger an adverse reaction from your pup! So make sure you're reading labels carefully before buying anything new for your pooch's diet plan.

Your vet can help identify what's causing your dog's allergies and how to treat them

Your vet can help identify what's causing your dog's allergies and how to treat them. Your vet will likely ask questions about your dog's behavior, like whether he seems itchy or has been shedding more than usual lately. They may also examine their skin, ears, and gums for signs of infection and check their teeth for tartar buildup that might be causing pain when they eat.

If your vet suspects an allergy, they may recommend blood tests or other diagnostic tests such as x-rays or ultrasounds (if appropriate). If you've taken photos of any rashes on the skin around the face or paws of an atopic pet before beginning treatment for fleas with Frontline Plus®, then bring these along as well--they might come in handy later!


If you suspect that your dog is suffering from allergies, it's important to see a vet. Your vet will be able to identify the cause of the problem and provide appropriate treatment for your pet's individual needs.


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