Allergies can be frustrating for both the owner and the pet. The constant scratching and licking is enough to drive anyone mad; our vets will work with you to provide comprehensive care to minimize the itch.

How common are allergies?

Unfortunately, allergies are very common in our pets. Studies have shown allergies occur in 20-30% of dogs with some breeds being at an increased risk like French bulldogs, golden retrieves and German shepherds. Typically dogs will start to show symptoms of allergies at 1-3 years of age.

What are common dog allergies?

Allergies can be broken up into three broad categories: fleas, environmental and food. Fleas are a common reason we will see itchy dogs. Some dogs will just get itchy while others can react more severely. Just like humans, dog can be allergic to trees, plants, grasses, pollens, molds and dust mites to
name a few! Dogs typically have contact allergens meaning they absorb the allergen through their skin. This is why we commonly see them licking at paws or scratching. In comparison, humans commonly have aerosol allergens meaning they breath in the allergen. Lastly, dogs can be allergic to various foods causing them to be itchy.

  • Flea Allergy

    • Flea allergic dermatitis is the most common allergy we see in dogs, cats and pocket pets. The good news is that it can be treated with year-round flea control! This is why for any itchy animal, flea control is essential for all animals in the house.

  • Environmental Allergies

    • Just like humans, dog can be allergic to trees, plants, grasses, pollens, molds and dust mites to name a few! Typically, humans will inhale the allergen causing watery eyes, running nose and sneezing. While dogs can still inhale allergens, it is more common that dog have contact allergens. This is what leads to the red, inflamed skin that they are constantly licking or scratching at.

What are some signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs?

The most common signs of an allergy are itching at their body or ears, licking or biting paws, shaking head, and red, inflamed skin. Owners often notice the constant licking or scratching during the middle of the night. We’re here to help get rid of the itch and get you better sleep!

Can I diagnose my dog’s allergies at home?

Unfortunately, no. There are numerous reasons your dog may be itching so its our job, as the veterinarian, to figure out the cause. Often times, we find fleas as the culprit. Fleas can be hard to find and often go unnoticed by many owners. Your dog may also have a bacterial or yeast infection with or without allergies. It is important to bring your animal in if you are suspicious of an allergy.

How will a veterinarian diagnose allergies in my dog?

Allergies are a diagnosis of exclusion. Our veterinarians and staff will first get a thorough history to better understand your pet and their environment. A complete dermatological examine will be completed to examine your pet’s ears and skin. After the examine, our veterinarians will discuss
diagnostics. This may include a skin scraping checking for ectoparasites like mites, ear or skin cytology looking for an infection, or fungal culture to rule out ringworm. If those things are found, we will begin treatment. The veterinarian may also recommend a diet trial with specific food to ensure it is not a food allergy. The veterinarian may discuss intradermal testing. As you can see, it can take time to diagnosis an allergy and get your dog feeling the best it can!

How are dog allergies treated using anti-inflammatory therapy?

It is important to remember we cannot cure allergies. It would be pretty cool superpower if we could! However, it is always our goal to keep your dog comfortable. Anti-inflammatory therapy helps reduce the red, inflamed skin and the itch. Therapy may be topical, oral or combination of both. While for years, veterinarians had to rely on corticosteroids alone we now have safer, long-term medications called Apoquel and Cytopoint. Apoquel is a once daily oral medication while Cytopoint is a once a month injection. Our veterinarians will work with you to decide what would be best for your pet to ditch the itch.

How is topical or shampoo therapy used for dog’s allergies?

Bathing is important as it can help decrease the contact allergens absorbed. Wiping your dog’s paws and underbelly off after being outside can also help! Depending on the patient, some animals can be treated with topical therapy alone.

We know allergies can be frustrating, call us today so we can work with you to minimize the itch!  Contact our animal hospital in Marshalltown, Iowa at 641-758-3333 or click here!