Some common complaints veterinarians get from dog owners are things like chronic paw chewing, ear shaking and scratching, and raw, red skin. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies, and allergies in dogs can be placed into one or a combination of three categories: Food, skin, and environmental.
What is an Allergy?
An allergy is a condition of hypersensitivity of the immune system to an allergen, a type of antigen. Allergens are proteins produced by plants, grasses, insects, chemicals, foods, or other animals, and these allergens can cause the immune system can go haywire, especially with repeated exposure. Allergens tend to cause produce a vigorous immune response, releasing histamines which in turn cause inflammation, itching, and red skin. It’s the inflammation that causes many of the signs and symptoms of allergies.
Common Allergy Signs and Symptoms in Dogs
Do you suspect that your dog has allergies? Below are listed ten common signs and symptoms, but it is always recommended that your consult your veterinarian first. Call the Veterinary Medical Center of St. Lucie County today at (772) 337-8570.
1. Constant Licking and Rubbing the Face
Another sign that your dog may have allergies is excessive licking, especially in areas of the paws, legs, and rectum. Most often, dogs will lick their paws and pads to relieve itching and inflammation. Facial rubbing and scratching can be signs of allergies and skin irritation as well. Of course, it’s always recommended to have your veterinarian examine your pet to rule out the possibility of a foreign body or something embedded in the skin.
2. Itchy Skin
One of the most common complaints dog owners have when it comes to allergies is itching. If your dog is constantly scratching, or biting, or chewing at themself, they are most likely trying to relieve the itchiness and inflammation. Constant scratching can cause redness of the skin, hair loss, bleeding, and the possibility of secondary skin infection such as hot spots. Although most dogs with itchy skin suffer from food allergies, the best solution is to make an appointment with your veterinarian and have your pet examined.
3. Swelling of the Ears, Eyelids, or Face
If your dog has a sudden swelling around the face, lips, ears, or eyelids, it might be an allergic reaction to an insect bite, sting, certain foods, medications, plants, or other environmental allergens. It’s always recommended that you consult with your veterinarian right away, especially if there is swelling around the face and neck, since swelling in these areas may restrict the airway and cause difficulty breathing.
Hives are noticeable raised bumps on the skin. Although hives are usually rare in dogs, they can be caused by an acute allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, certain medications, shampoos, chemicals, or plants. Rashes in dogs can also be exacerbated by exposure to exercise, stress, sunlight, or heat.
5. Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea may be signs of allergies as well, and more often than not, may indicate a food allergy. Symptoms of food allergies in dogs involve gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea. If vomiting and diarrhea persist, it’s always recommended that you consult your veterinarian as continued vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances in your pet.
6. Scratching at Ears/Shaking Ears/Ear Infections
Scratching at the ears and ear infections be a common issue in dogs, especially in floppy ear breeds such as Cocker Spaniels and hound dogs. Oftentimes, ear infections are related to allergies, especially with dogs that have recurring ear infections.
Constant head shaking, and red and inflamed ears are the main symptoms, and chronic shaking can cause something called an aural hematoma. This occurs when the blood vessels in the floppy part of the ear burst, and bleed into the space between the skin and the cartilage of the ear, causing the ear to look puffy. Ear infections can be very uncomfortable and even painful for many dogs, so it is important to schedule an examination with your veterinarian in these cases.
7. Red Skin
Red skin and skin infections are common side effects of allergies in dogs and are usually related to chronic scratching. Your dog can develop a secondary skin infection, or a staph infection known as hot spots due to repeated scratching. Again, a trip to your veterinarian is recommended if the scratching persists.
Sometimes allergies can cause sneezing in dogs and other respiratory issues, although it’s more common in cats than in dogs. If your dog has been sneezing chronically or exhibits nasal discharge or nasal discharge that is either green or yellow, it is recommended to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out serious respiratory issues.
9. Eye Discharge
If your dog presents with any kind of discharge from the eye, it’s very important to book an appointment with your veterinarian. If your pet has a yellow or green discharge from one or both eyes, it can be a sign of conjunctivitis, which can be caused by allergies. However, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out other causes such as eye injury, a foreign body, or tear duct problems.
10. Hair Loss
Another symptom of possible allergies in dogs is hair loss or alopecia. It is normal for dogs to shed some fur, especially at certain times of the year, but it’s not normal for your pet to lose large amounts of hair to the point where your dog has bald, patchy spots. Hair loss due to allergies may be due to constant licking, scratching, and you may notice brown saliva stains from the constant licking of the feet.
Sometimes hair loss can be triggered by certain foods, or environmental allergens such as pollen or mold, as well as other factors such as parasites, fleas, or dust mites. Hair loss due to allergies can also be triggered by parasites, such as mange, so it’s always best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
How Our Animal Hospital in Port St. Lucie, FL Can Help Your Dog
Allergies in dogs can be treated topically with creams or shampoos, and others can be treated with medications and/or immunotherapy. At Veterinary Medical Center of St. Lucie County, we can determine the exact cause of the allergy, and help to treat the cause. If you suspect that your dog has allergies, call us at (772) 337-8570.