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Dogs with Allergies: What You Need to Know

When most people think of the term "dog allergy" they think about people who are allergic to dogs (or more specifically, pet dander.) However, while that's the first thing that usually springs to mind, dogs can have allergies too. Here's what you need to know if you suspect your dog might be allergic to something.

What Can Dogs Be Allergic To?

Just like humans, your dog could be allergic to almost anything. I've known some dogs who are allergic to the synthetic fibers in a specific type of blanket.

Your dog could be allergic to environmental things like insect bites or plants, or they could be allergic to certain types of food. It's also worth noting that allergies aren't always something you're born with and die with. They can develop over time, and they can also diminish or increase in intensity at any time. Sometimes, allergies in dogs (and people!) will even disappear completely.

How Common Are Allergies In Dogs?

Allergies are actually quite common in dogs, and they're fairly common throughout every breed and gender. They also occur all over the world. In most cases, however, dog allergies will appear when your dog is older than six months - usually around one or two years of age.

What Are the Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?

One of the problems with allergies in dogs is that there's such a broad range of possible symptoms. Anything from chronic or acute itching to nausea, diarrhea or flatulence, or respiratory symptoms could be caused by allergies. Some dogs sneeze, some cough, and some have runny noses or extra teary eyes.

Common Allergens for Dogs

While it's true that dogs can be allergic to almost anything, there are a few things that are more common triggers for allergic reactions in dogs. These include:

  1. Insects, including fleas
  2. Pollens
  3. Beef
  4. Dairy
  5. Wheat
  6. Egg
  7. Chicken
  8. Lamb
  9. Soy
  10. Pork
  11. Rabbit
  12. Fish

Like humans, dogs who are allergic to one substance are often allergic or sensitive to others too, so you may find that there is more than one trigger for your dog's reaction.

Diagnosing and Treating Allergies In Dogs

Diagnosing and treating allergies in dogs can be tricky, and while there is testing available, it's usually (as with humans) only done to confirm a suspected allergy, because again, there are millions of substances that could be causing the trouble.

Your vet is likely to recommend that you keep a food diary, and that you eliminate one type of food at a time. If the symptoms improve after you eliminate a food type, it's likely that it's the culprit (or one of them!) If your dog's allergies are seasonal, then it's likely they're related to pollen, and if they react to a particular type of insect, fabric or object, your vet will want to know that too.

Treating allergies depends on the cause. In some cases, topical treatments, shampoos and medications containing corticosteroids might be used to treat allergies related to contact with a particular substance. If it's a food that is the problem, your vet will recommend that you avoid that food type. There are also anti inflammatories and antihistamines that can help, particularly if the allergy is to something that can't be avoided - like pollen.

The best advice is to talk to your veterinarian, determine what is causing the reaction, and then eliminate the cause if possible, and treat the symptoms if not.

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