By Courtney Emken
co-written by  Bart Emken, CPDT-KA & Jen Larson, KPA-CTP

Dog itching ear from skin allergyDogs are just like us in so many ways: they like belly rubs, they take family photos, their brains are wired similarly….and they suffer from allergies. Luckily for all of us, there are plenty of solutions available for dog allergies.

What To Look For: Signs Your Dog Might Have Allergies

When trying to identify whether your dog has allergies or not, watch their behavior. Certain activities, especially when repeated excessively, are strong indicators of an allergic reaction or a similar problem like dry skin. Some examples include:

  • Scratching
  • Biting paws
  • Licking
  • Nibbling
  • Chewing

All of these are normal things for dogs to do, but a dog with allergies can’t seem to stop doing them.

Dog itching from allergiesIf you suspect allergies are to blame, check your dog’s skin next. Here you can find the tell-tale signs of an allergic reaction, such as:

  • Reddened belly, ears, or eyes
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Missing patches of hair
  • Scabs, especially by ears

Some dogs scratch so intensely that they open small wounds. These usually occur near their ears, where they’re especially sensitive and itchy. If you see your dog scratch excessively or find suspicious scabs, allergies are suspect #1.

Also, keep in mind that dogs with recessive traits are far more prone to have allergies. Some examples of recessive traits in dogs include:

At the Ranch, we have a chocolate lab who’s practically allergic to the world. His owner has to keep a stash of emergency meds handy in case of severe reactions. If your dog has recessive traits, it’s more likely that you’ll have to deal with allergies as well.

What To Do Next: How To Live With Doggie Allergies

The first step is to visit the vet; this is a must. The vet can do blood tests and other kinds of analyses to determine your dog’s exact allergens. They can also differentiate allergies from other types of skin irritation such as:

Dog allergies relievedOnce you know the precise cause of the allergies, you and your vet can discuss options for how to deal with them.

Many people prefer to combat allergies with more natural or holistic methods. Some common examples would be:

These home-remedies are often used to counteract the dry skin symptomatic of allergies, but may be ineffective when dealing with food-borne allergens.

Over the counter medications can help dogs just as much as humans. Benadryl can reliably counteract allergic reactions. Plus, it’s very difficult to overdose on. Still, it’s best to keep to the standard dosage of one milligram per pound of weight.

Apoquel is a new medication that’s been changing allergy-stricken animal’s lives. It targets the itch receptor in the brain, inhibiting a dog’s desire to scratch. However, there haven’t been any studies into the long-term side effects, so check with your vet before you use it.

Food Allergies

Many dogs are allergic to ingredients in lower-quality foods. We like to refer people to dogfoodadvisor.com. It’s an unbiased rating site that lists everything that goes into a brand’s formula. You can check here for common allergens like:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Sugars
  • Dyes

Using this site allows you to easily plan nutrition around your dog’s allergies.

On top of being absolutely awful parasites, fleas can cause allergies as well. Austin has a large pet population, so fleas tend to run rampant here. Make sure your dogs are properly protected to avoid flea-borne allergies.

We deal with allergies daily at the Ranch, both our own and our dog’s. If you want some more tips for handling allergies or have any questions in general, please contact us today! We’d love to help you help your dog.


Image Permissions:

Itchy Chihuahua by Wayne Silver

IMG_0694 by Kelsey MacDonald

IMG_8798 by Emily Rader