Short answer: yes. No matter your dog’s breed or health, they can develop allergies at any point in their life. Dogs are most likely to develop skin, food, or environmental allergies.
Allergies occur when your dog’s immune system mistakenly reacts to a foreign substance. Common culprits include dust or pollen–like you, your dog can suffer from seasonal allergies! Symptoms usually include itching, hives, swelling, or gastrointestinal distress, though every dog can present differently depending on the nature of the allergy.
Diagnosing your dog’s allergy can be complicated. Typically, your vet starts by eliminating any potential causes and seeing if that alleviates your dog’s symptoms. From there, they may order an allergy test or an elimination diet to pinpoint the exact allergen.
If your dog has allergies, consider adding probiotics to their diet. Products like Deley Naturals Advanced Probiotic Supplements contain “good” bacteria that populate your dog’s digestive tract, helping develop immunity against allergens and boosting their overall health. We now know that gut health affects every part of your dog’s immune system. The stronger it is, the easier it becomes for your dog’s body to fight off common infections and digestive system disorders. Probiotics can even relieve itchiness and reduce allergy symptoms.
If your dog is allergic to something in their environment, they’re most likely to show symptoms in their skin. Interestingly, your dog is very unlikely to develop respiratory-related allergy symptoms such as wheezing or coughing. Instead, they may:
- Scratch or lick their paws and ears
- Scratch or lick their legs, face, underarms, groin, anal region, eyes, and in between toes
Common environmental allergies are dust, pollen, and mold, but one important one is flea saliva. Not all dogs are allergic to fleas, but if your dog is, they can develop allergic reactions. They may:
- Scratch or lick their bodies, but especially the base of the tail
- Develop red or inflamed skin
- Develop scabs along their body
You may also find flea dirt or fleas in their bedding. When exterminating fleas, don’t forget to treat anywhere your dog likes to lie down or spend their time to prevent future reinfection.
While skin allergies are annoying and uncomfortable for your dog to deal with, their main danger is the possibility of secondary infections. As your dog licks and scratches themselves, they risk exposing themselves to yeast and bacterial infections that can be more serious and difficult to handle.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
True food allergies are somewhat rare in dogs, with the exact prevalence of them still unknown. One study found a loose correlation between food allergies and skin allergies.
If your dog has a food allergy, they may:
- Have severe gastrointestinal distress
- Lick at their groin and/or anal region excessively
- Scratch their face, ears, feet, anus, and groin repeatedly
- Develop frequent ear and skin infections
Symptoms can appear suddenly or develop more slowly over time, and persist as long as your dog continues to consume the offending allergen. It can take anywhere between a couple weeks to several months for symptoms to resolve once the allergen is removed.
Unfortunately, blood and saliva tests have not proven reliable for food allergies. Currently, only elimination diets accurately diagnose them. If your vet puts your dog on an elimination diet, your dog is put on a homemade or prescription food with a novel protein such as rabbit or kangaroo. Elimination diets are extremely strict and can last between 8 to 12 weeks, if not longer.
Food sensitivities or food intolerances are significantly more common. Your dog may gradually develop an intolerance to a common ingredient in their diet, such as chicken or beef. If they have food sensitivities, their symptoms may include:
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Poor skin and coat
- Chronic ear and foot infections
As you’ve probably noticed, food allergies and food intolerances can look alike. Talk to your vet to manage the reaction and determine the underlying cause.