How do allergies appear in dogs and how to deal with them?

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How Do Allergies Appear In Dogs? Like Humans, Dogs Can Also Suffer From Allergies. Allergies Affect Even More And More Animals And Seem To Be Constantly Increasing In Our Hairballs. How Do Allergies Appear In Dogs? And How To Deal With It?

An allergy, what is it?

Allergy is the term used to describe all manifestations of hypersensitivity. In case of allergy, the immune system triggers an abnormal reaction and disproportionate to the presence of a substance usually not dangerous to the body is called an allergen.

This reaction is at the origin of clinical symptoms, which, in the dog, most often take the form of cutaneous disorders.

The dog is thus distinguished human beings in whom allergies are manifested mainly by respiratory disorders.

There are several forms of allergies in dogs detailed in this article:

  • atopic dermatitis,
  • food allergies,
  • allergy to flea bites,
  • contact allergy,
  • angioedema.
  • Atopic dermatitis of dogs

Atopic dermatitis, also called atopic dog, is a condition of the skin of the dog that causes chronic itching.

It’s causes

The atopy would result from a genetic predisposition of the dog which would be at the origin:

disruption of the T-cell response, a type of white blood cell that would signal the production of more E-type immunoglobulins, antibodies known to be involved in hypersensitivity reactions,

a defect in the skin barrier that would allow excessive penetration of allergens via the dermal route.

The allergens involved are very varied and are present throughout the environment. It can be mites, skin debris, pollen, mold, plant debris, among others …

Atopy could also promoted and triggered by infectious agents or flea allergy dermatitis.

His signs

The most characteristic symptom is the appearance of itching: the dog licks, scratches, rubs, or nibbles at first the feet, the face then the itching can extend to the whole body. As a result of scratching, lesions of other skin signs may appear on the skin like crusts, a thickening of the skin that looks like an “elephant skin,” a loss of hair, erythema (red skin), a very unpleasant stale odor of the skin …

Sometimes, atopy manifested by otitis. The condition accompanied by sneezing and conjunctivitis.

His treatment

The most effective would, of course, be to avoid allergens, but it is impossible to put into practice because these allergens are present everywhere in the environment!

Therefore, the treatment of atopic dermatitis is quite complicated and can combine several solutions:

desensitization, which is also called immunotherapy.

This method aims at injecting the substances to which the animal is allergic (which must, therefore, identified beforehand) in increasing quantities for several months to attenuate the response of the dog’s organism to the allergens to which he is sensitive.


Based on the administration of corticosteroid drugs to dogs, this type of treatment addresses the symptoms of allergy by relieving itching but does not address the cause. It can not be given to the dog in the long run because it has many side effects.


These drugs that reduce allergic reactions are not very effective in dogs and can cause troublesome side effects. In 10 to 40% of dogs, they can nevertheless help control atopy and reduce doses of corticosteroid drugs.

Complementation with essential fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids are fats that play a crucial role in modulating inflammatory responses. When a dog has atopic dermatitis, they improve the skin condition of the dog and reduce the doses of antihistamines and corticosteroids. It can given to dogs in the form of fish oil capsules.

Social care.

The application of local treatments in the form of ointments, lotions, creams, sprays, or even shampoos aim to reduce the risks of infection that are often associated with atopic dermatitis, to reduce the sensation of itching and to restore the skin barrier by rehydrating it.

When the allergens responsible for atopy are dust mites, one can also try to limit their amount in the environment by limiting the presence of textiles in the context of the dog, by regularly aspirating and applying acaricides.

Food allergies

Food allergies are allergic dermatitis caused by foods that the dog ingests.

It’s causes

In food allergy problems, the allergens involved are most often proteins or additives present in the dog’s diet. Thus, many foods and ingredients are likely to cause allergies: meat of chicken, beef, dairy products, eggs, cereals, etc …

His signs

In dogs, a food allergy most manifested by skin problems. More rarely, the allergic dog can also suffer from gastrointestinal or respiratory problems.

Classically, a food allergy is thus manifested by itchy sensations that cause the dog to scratch, lick, or chew … a behavior that is often at the origin of secondary lesions among crusts, hair loss, appearance of oily skin, and a bad smell of the skin (seborrhea) or even skin infections called pyoderma …

Itching can sometimes be localized inside the ear canal or in the anal area.

His treatment

In terms of food allergy, the only effective treatment is the carnivorous diet. Consists of offering allergic dogs meals that are free of the allergen responsible for their hypersensitivity. But unfortunately, there is currently no useful blood test to identify with certainty the nature of allergens to which a dog is sensitive. To identify them, it is often necessary to “fumble” for a moment by testing, with the help of a veterinarian, several types of meals for a time sufficient to see the skin symptoms fade or disappear.

While waiting to find the mode of feeding which will relieve the dog durably, the itching can be relieved temporarily by medications with base of steroids or immunomodulators.

Allergy to flea bites

In dogs, it is not uncommon for flea bites to cause allergic dermatitis. It is even the first cause of itching in our pets.

It’s causes

Flea allergy dermatitis linked to a hypersensitivity reaction to various allergens contained in flea saliva that the latter inoculates with the dog when it carries on its meal of blood.

His signs

The main symptom of this allergy is the appearance of localized itching in the lumbar areas of the dog, places where fleas like to live.

His treatment

The treatment of flea allergy dermatitis involves getting rid of insects that parasitize the dog, and that can re-infest them in their environment.

The itching and inflammation can be relieved in parallel by corticosteroid treatments at anti-inflammatory doses.

Contact allergies

Contact allergies are skin inflammatory reactions that result from direct contact with a substance in the environment.

It’s causes

Any substance that can pass through the skin and stimulate the dog’s immune system is potentially allergenic. However, the elements most frequently implicated in contact dermatitis in dogs are metals (and especially nickel), plastics, rubber, cement, cleaning products, cosmetics, and individual plants and drugs.

His signs

In case of contact allergy, we observe the appearance of inflammatory lesions of the skin where the dog has been in direct contact with the allergen: the belly or the underside of the legs if the allergen is present on the floor or its bed, the neck if the allergen is current on his collar, the ear canals if the dog is allergic to drops instilled in his ears, the tip of his muzzle if the allergen is in the material from his bowl …

His treatment

By eliminating the allergen from the dog’s environment, it is possible to suppress contact dermatitis. Before we can do this, we must succeed in identifying the allergen that is responsible for dermatitis. The diagnosis can sometimes involve the performance of patch tests by a veterinarian.

Topical moisturizers can treat the consequences of dermatitis or even by anti-inflammatories prescribed by the veterinarian.

The angioedema

Angioedema is a kind of urticaria that can have allergic causes in dogs.

It’s causes

Angio-edema can result from genetic factors, physical factors (cold/heat, UV rays …), infections, a systemic disease of the dog, but also an allergic reaction to a drug, a food, a plant, or the bite or bite of an insect or food.

His signs

Angioedema is manifested by the appearance of a massive swelling of the animal’s face as well as by more general and severe symptoms such as angioedema and anaphylactic shock. If the edema reaches the throat of the animal, it can obstruct the respiratory tract of the dog, which is then unable to breathe. It is then an absolute urgency that should make you drive the dog as soon as possible to the nearest veterinary clinic.

His treatment

The emergency treatment based on the administration of antihistamine, adrenaline, and possibly glucocorticoids.

After that, the veterinarian may undertake to search for the allergen in question to desensitize the animal to avoid recurrence.

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