Common Dog Allergies

Allergies are fairly common in dogs but lately, does it seem like your dog is allergic to everything? From environmental factors to the food you feed your dog, potential allergens are everywhere. While some you may recognize and be able to prevent entirely, others will require a little research and due diligence to head off at the pass. But in the meantime, here’s what you should know about allergies and how you can help to prevent them.

What is an Allergy?

What causes your dog to go bananas when they have an allergy? It has to do with the body’s built-in defense mechanism called the immune system. We all have it, including your dog. By definition, an allergy is the immune system’s hyperactive response to a particular foreign substance it comes in contact with which it sees as a threat. That foreign substance is an antagonist known as an ‘allergen’. When Fido’s immune system overreacts to these allergens, it’s called an allergic reaction.

Exposure to allergens can take place in various ways but in general, they can enter your dog’s body through inhalation, direct skin contact, ingested or injected. Contrary to popular belief though, allergies can not only happen suddenly – but also with overexposure.

Keep in mind that research has shown where one allergy has reared its ugly head, there are typically more. While allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, they should never be ignored as complications such as secondary infections may occur if left untreated.

Symptoms of Allergies

Just as with humans, allergies can cause a multitude of symptoms from mild annoyances to a lethal case of full blown anaphylactic shock. Commonly seen symptoms of allergies may develop quickly or gradually over time, depending upon the allergen and the severity of your dog’s allergic reaction. The most important thing you can do to help your dog is to take note of the symptoms, when and if symptoms are worsening. Be sure to inform your veterinary office as soon as possible. The most common symptoms of allergic reaction to watch for include:

  • Sneezing

  • Itchy eyes

  • Watery eyes

  • Hives

  • Itchy skin

  • Inflamed skin

  • Hot spots

  • Skin infections

  • Ear infections

  • Chronic paw licking/chewing

  • Swelling of the ears, eyes and lips


Environmental Allergies


Typical environmental allergies that could bother your dog are tree, grass and weed pollens, mold spores and dust. Environmental allergies like these are known to surface between the ages of 1 and 3 years in dogs – as they are predisposed to the chronic condition.

We see genetic environmental allergy traits in breeds like Terriers, Boxers, Shepards, Bulldogs, Beagles, Irish Setters, Dalmations and Retrievers. However that being said, it certainly does not eliminate the possibility of your Pomeranian, Mastiff or other breed from reacting to a plush green bed of grass!

Additionally, cigarette smoke is a well-known, but overlooked, allergen for dogs. Thus, if you or someone else in your household is a smoker and your four legged canine friend is having allergies, you might give consideration to smoking outside – or install an air purification system.

If going to the park smelling the flowers puts your pooch in allergy hell, you will be relieved to know our Bed and Biscuit Austin facilities use canine grass artificial turf. So the facility is 100% friendly to dogs who are allergic to grass and trees.

Food Allergies

These days, dog owners are becoming more aware – and cautious – of what goes into their dog’s dinner bowl. And with good reason! But sometimes, we can go a little overboard by making misguided and drastic changes to our pet’s diet in the name of love. While changing dietary sources can be beneficial if your dog has a reaction to previous foods or lacks nutritional value, the same can be said for changing it up with unfamiliar ingredients not typically seen in regular foods like duck, elk, venison and many more.

On the flipside; it’s important to keep your dog’s diet consistent. Suddenly and frequently switching him to new dog foods can not only cause digestive upset, it can potentially trigger food allergies, especially if the new food exposes your dog to a new ingredient which he is allergic to. Instead, try to keep your dog on the same type of food when possible.

If you do need to change foods, then make the transition by slowing introducing the new food. Gradually decrease the amount of the old food that your dog is eating, making the transition a slow one. It should take few days to a week until your dog is eating only the new food. Remember that it’s always best to consult with your vet before making drastic changes in your pet’s diet.

Many dogs suffer from food allergies, with most the prevalent coming from wheat, lamb, corn, soy, beef, chicken and dairy. Very seldom do we see allergic reactions from fish or rabbit. So it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing the allergy at first. Common allergic reactions  symptomatic of food allergies can be displayed by digestive upset, vomiting and/or diarrhea, weight loss, itchy or inflamed skin, chronic ear infections and more.

Food allergies can also be developed over long periods of time to a particular allergen. An example of this would be a familiar comment from pet owners which goes something like this:

“I’ve fed my dog the same dog food all their life”

In this case, a dog has been consistently fed the same ingredients where, initially, the food did not cause allergy issues. But remember; not all allergies are due to sudden exposure. Often, our dogs can develop an allergy to one or more ingredients of their food over many years of exposure.

Another consideration is that the pet food industry is constantly changing product distributors, formulas, antioxidants, fillers, dyes and more not frequently disclosed on the list of ingredients. Even minor changes in some pet food ingredients can wreak havoc with some dog’s systems. So even though you think you have been feeding ‘the same food all their life’, the likelihood is that something has in fact changed throughout the years. Your best course of action? If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, consult with your vet.

Acute Allergic Reactions

Severe allergic reactions producing what is called ‘anaphylactic shock’ are the most alarming and lethal of all. While an anaphylactic reaction can come from many sources, the most common are from bee or wasp stings and injected medications they are allergic to such as vaccines resulting in: 

  • Rapid loss in blood pressure

  • Sudden onset of diarrhea

  • Excessive drooling

  • Cold extremities

  • Pale gums

  • Vomiting

  • Seizure

  • Coma

  • Shock 

Treating Allergies

The bottom line is our canine friends can have an allergic reaction to nearly anything they come into contact with from their food to the grass under their feet. If your dog has allergies, the first step is to determine what it is that he is allergic to. Generally you want to remove that allergen from his environment entirely, but sometimes that’s not possible like in the case of a grass or trees allergy.

Quite often, Benadryl is used to treat allergies in dogs unless the problem persist or worsens. For this reason, Bed and Biscuit Austin keeps Benadryl on hand and, with your approval, will administer it to your dog if he needs it. Additionally, if your dog has an allergy which results in itchy or irritated skin, bathing him with a soothing shampoo or conditioner can help to ease the irritation. We hope that your dog doesn’t need to deal with allergies, but you can do a lot to help your dog by determining and treating the source of the allergy.

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