Dog Allergies & Soothing Itchy Dogs

Spring is the SNEEZE season for humans, complete with runny eyes and sinus issues. For dog allergies, itchy skin is the more common sign of discomfort.

dog allergies

I’ve been told by some veterinarians that West Highland White Terriers “put their kids through college…” because of the allergy issues the breed is prone to. Image Copr. Amy Shojai

It’s less common, but runny eyes also may develop–and of course, my Magical-Dawg has to be one of these unusual cases. His eyes began watering back in January, and combined with his acral lick foot itchies, he was miserable. Thankfully, he doesn’t suffer from the all-over itchy skin, hair loss, and worse that our first shepherd suffered. But here in North Texas (and other parts of the country), it’s helpful to understand dog allergies and how to soothe our itchy dogs.

This is simply an overview of the kinds of allergies. For more details, you’ll want your veterinarian to diagnose your dog, and explain what’s needed to help your pet. You can also find more details about pet allergies in my DOG FACTS book.

DOG ALLERGIES CAUSES & CURES

Pets suffer from the same kinds of allergies that people do. Food allergies (probably the least common in dogs) happen when dogs react to certain proteins in the food. Major culprits are meats like beef or chicken–and even lamb, if the dog has eaten it before and become “sensitized.” It can be complicated.

Food Allergies

How do you cure dog food allergies? Well, you don’t…but you can manage them. The first step is diagnosing exactly WHAT causes the reaction and only a veterinarian can do that. See, commercial foods contain a smorgasbord of ingredients, some in tiny amounts, and while you MAY find one your dog tolerates more than others, switching around can be hit-or-miss. It also may confuse things when you’ve then exposed the dog to bunches more potential culprits and reduced the “safe” alternatives that he’s never before tasted.

Drawing of cartoon flea

Fleas are nothing to laugh about

Flea Allergies

Flea allergy is the most common of all. Dogs (and cats) sensitive to the flea saliva can itch all over after a single bite from one of these tiny vampires. Flea allergy also is one of the most easily managed, usually through one of the modern safe flea prevention products. I use Revolution (from the vet) on Magical-Dawg because it takes care of heartworms, fleas and a number of internal parasites, too.

dog allergies

Fleas are more than itchy aggravations and spread tapeworm as well as cause skin disease.

Get details on allergies & treatments.

Inhaled Allergies

Atopy–or inhaled allergies–can be due to pollens, molds, and even dander. Hay fever in people that makes us sneeze instead causes itching in pets. That’s what our first shepherd developed. After we moved from the Ohio Valley region (and its airborne fungus and other “schtuff”) and were in Texas, his health drastically improved.

Could a dog be allergic to himself, or to the cat? Theoretically, that’s possible! But more typically it’s the springtime/summer allergens that drive pets nuts. Wintertime when the furnace comes on for the first time can stir up household dust and set them off again.

Atopy can be the toughest control. It’s seasonal so the signs can lessen during the winter. Dogs absorb grass and dust allergens through the toe webbing in their foot pads, so simply rinsing off poochie feet after the dog’s been outside can help enormously. Also, dogs (and cats) are furry dust mops that collect and carry allergens in their coat–so rinsing ’em off weekly also helps.

Natural Cures for Dog Allergies

There’s a difference between HOLISTIC veterinary medicine and HOMEOPATHY (click this link for some details). For example, omega-3 fatty acids are a holistic/natural treatment that aid skin health and also have some anti-itch properties–so does bathing the pet in an oatmeal-based anti-itch shampoo. A flea comb to get rid of fleas is about as natural as you can get! Homeopathic medications attempt to “wake up” the pet’s own body to deal with and manage the health challenge.

Some dogs benefit from allergy medications like antihistamines. Magic’s runny eyes resolved once we began giving him Benadryl, recommended by our veterinarian. Please check with your pet’s practitioner for proper dosage and what’s safe for your fur kids. And for atopic dogs, simply rinsing them off with water (even just their paws) can help.

Here are some videos that offer some more comments and discussion (yes, they’re a couple year’s old!). There’s also info on OTC treatments for pets. For folks reading the blog, what has worked for your itchy dog? Any further tips you can share? Do tell!

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Comments

Dog Allergies & Soothing Itchy Dogs — 29 Comments

  1. With allergies, we had some good results with integrative approach. We were considering immunotherapy also but it didn’t come to that because of Jasmine’s other problems and passing. Else we would have tried that.

    • Yep, food allergies can cause itchies. Sensitivities more typically result in gastrointestinal issues, I believe. And then there are dogs who don’t read the vet manuals. *s*

  2. Thanks for sharing this great information. Kilo the Pug snuffles at the best of times so I hope he does not get allergies. So far so good. I need to schedule a vet trip you have reminded me as hate fleas, heartworm, and ticks.

  3. One of my cats Kylo Ren had a bad flea allergy, and if he even gets one flea he gets these scabby itchy places on his skin. Poor guy. I have to be very diligent about combing him for fleas and treating him regularly. It’s that time of year!

  4. I can confirm cats get allergies! Our Dot and Sienna cats both have flea allergies (not just getting a flea and scratching – full blown allergies with scabs and stuff). So it is vital people do realise a cat or dog does indeed get a reaction to somethings,

  5. I know it’s allergy season because not only did all of my allergy symptoms kick in this week but Piper’s eyes started getting watery, which generally indicates that something is in the air. She doesn’t get itchy but her eyes definitely react when the pollen starts flying. I haven’t tried Benedryl with her but if it gets bad enough this year, I will give the vet a call.

    • Yep, some dogs don’t read the book and develop “other” signs of the problems. Interestingly, Magic’s watery eyes started well before spring–back during the winter, when I think it had to do with dust in the furnace maybe?

  6. I just noticed this weekend that the dogs eyes are a bit runny and I’m guessing this is from seasonal allergies. Usually this only last a few weeks, paws crossed! Miley had fleas a few years back and turns out she is allergic to them, poor thing was a mess!

    • With Magic, it helped him enormously just to bathe his eyes and face with a warm wet cloth a couple of times a day. Cleaning off the gook helped prevent the skin irritation.

  7. What a timely post with the season of itch and scratch upon us. I find a lot of folks confuse allergies with sensitivities. I love that you pointed out what to do and are hands on helping pet parents.

  8. hardest part is finding a way to deal with allergies and all the flea and tick stuff without all the chemicals. ugh. I am not a fan of pharma.

  9. I think that the dog I had as a child had a flea allergy. She would bite all of the fur off of her rear end any time she got fleas. It is great that there are so many better ways to deal with fleas these days. My kitties have never had to deal with fleas, so I (very thankfully) can’t say whether or not they have these allergies.

  10. Thanks for such a great post. My niece’s dog suffers from allergies and I’m going to share this information with her. I’m going to suggest she look at the food she’s feeding him and start there.

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