What Every Dog Lover Should Know about a Dog Allergy

The most common dog allergy symptom is itchy skin. But it's not the only one.

Veterinarian Dr. Andrew Jones says dog allergies are one of the primary reasons he sees dogs outside of their regular check ups.

Chicken, Pork, Wheat, Fleas--these are just a few things your dog could be allergic to.

We’ll look at them in turn:

  • 1—The 5 Types of Dog Allergies

  • 2—Symptoms

  • 3—Potential Causes

  • 4—Treatment Options

  • There are 5 Types of Dog Allergies

    Let’s look at what the types of a dog allergy are, and then we’ll explore the various symptoms, causes and treatments.

    1. Food—Veterinarians say 10-15% of dogs develop a food allergy before they’re 4 years old.

    Your dog could be allergic to a protein source like chicken or to a grain like wheat or corn.

    The reasons these allergies develop is because your dog eats too much of the same thing for too long and his underlying immune system is low.

    2. Contact—Just like you may experience itching and red skin to some fabrics, your dog can also be allergic to wool or cotton.

    However, your pet could also be sensitive to topical medicines like flea preventives.

    3. Flea – You know how some people really attract mosquitoes or other biting insects?

    Some dogs are especially prone to fleas. It’s the saliva the fleas discharge on the dog when they bite that causes the reaction.

    4. Bacterial—All dogs naturally have a type of Staphylococcus (Staph) on them. Occasionally, some develop a sensitivity to it.

    The good news is, this is the easiest to treat. It’s simply a bacterial infection to be treated with antibiotics.

    5. Inhalant—The final type of allergy is the one where your dog is breathing in something that makes him sick.

    This can be exactly like seasonal allergies that bother humans.

    However, it can also be dust or mold.

    So, there are you are, the 5 types of dog allergies.

    Now, let’s look at the symptoms.

    6 Symptoms of a Dog Allergy

  • dry, itchy skin

  • chronic ear infections or stinky ears

  • constant hot spots

  • excessive chewing on paws or other body parts

  • dull coat

  • lots of stomach upsets

  • What makes an allergy tough to diagnose is that any of the 5 allergies can show these types of symptoms.

    So, where do you start?

    What Do You Do If You Suspect a Dog Allergy?

    Be Observant

    Remember you know your dog better than anyone. The best thing you can do is notice when your dog is exhibiting certain symptoms and make notes.

    Try to see the pattern. For example, is the paw chewing worse after a meal or a walk? When does the itchy skin seem worse?

    Write down the dates, the times and anything you can relate to it.

    Here’s an example:

    10-4-11 10 a.m.

    Lucy started getting ear infections about a week after I changed her food. I was feeding ____ which she seemed fine with and now I’m feeding ______ which she’s been eating for about 6 weeks.

    Now you can compare the labels on the food and see if there’s a main ingredient that could be triggering the reactions.

    If you don’t see anything suspicious, transition back to the food you were feeding before and see if the ear infections go away.

    Here’s another example: 6-6-11 7 p.m.


    Max is chewing his paws again and seems itchy all over.

    He hasn’t been like this in a few days. The food is the same, his shampoo is the same, hmmm…we did take a route on today’s walk by a park. We don’t go that way very often. Wonder if that could be it?


    Maybe he’s sensitive to something treating the grass at that park.

    If you keep a little dog health journal, you’ll see this pattern pretty quickly and know what to eliminate.

    Obviously, these are simple examples.

    Some dogs are allergic to multiple things. By keeping a journal, you’ll be better informed and if you go to the vet, you won’t be starting from scratch (pun intended :) allergydog

    How Does Your Dog Get An Allergy?

    Veterinarian Dr. Pitcairn defines an allergy as, “an abnormally intense reaction to something that is usually harmless to thbe body—wheat, house dust, or plant pollen for example.” The body then reacts.

    Essentially, allergies are an auto-immune disease.

    Veterinarians believe it’s a combination of years of low quality diets, environmental toxins and even over vaccination that’s contributing to the rise in allergies. (By the way, it’s the same in people).

    The Best Way to Prevent or Treat a Dog Allergy?

    Feed your pet high quality food and include supplements such as Dr. Andrew Jones Canine supplement

    If your pet is already showing dog allergy symptoms, keep a journal to help you pin down the cause and effect and make sure he's getting great nutrition!

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    Good luck!

    P.S. Please remember, this website is not meant to provide a diagnosis to your pet but merely to provide some general information. Jennifer Phillips April is not a veterinarian or other medical professional. Please see your medical professional for a professional opinion.