Allergies in dogs occur when their immune system overreacts to a usually harmless substance known as an allergen. The overreaction can result in a variety of symptoms. Common dog allergies that cause allergic reactions are broadly classified into four types: food allergies, contact allergies, flea allergies, and seasonal/environmental allergies.
Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies in dogs are an abnormal immune response to a particular ingredient in a dog’s diet. These allergies can develop at any age and can occur even if a dog has been eating the same food for years without any issues.
Food allergies occur when a dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies certain food ingredients as harmful and triggers an immune response. Unlike humans, dogs don’t commonly experience severe peanut allergies. Most common food allergens for dogs include:
The best way to manage food allergies in dogs is through a food trial or elimination diet. The process involves replacing a dog’s current diet with a new, simplified diet that contains a protein and carbohydrate source that the dog has not been exposed to before. The dog is kept on this diet exclusively for a period of time, typically around 8-12 weeks.
If the dog’s allergy symptoms improve during this time, the original diet is then reintroduced to see if symptoms reoccur. If they do, a food allergy is likely. Following this, individual ingredients from the dog’s food can be reintroduced one by one to identify the specific allergen causing the food allergy.
It’s important that elimination diets be undertaken under the guidance of a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to ensure the dog’s nutritional needs are being met. You should also ask your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing a food allergy or food intolerance.
Dog Breeds Prone to Dog Food Allergies
Certain dog breeds do seem to be more prone to developing food allergies from dog food than others, although any breed can potentially develop a food allergy. It’s also important to note that individual variations within a breed can occur, and a dog’s environment and specific dog food also play significant roles in the development of food allergies. Here are a few breeds that are commonly reported to be more susceptible:
- Cocker Spaniel
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
- Shar Pei
- Yorkshire Terrier
Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs
Flea allergies, or flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), are an allergic reaction to flea bites, specifically to the flea saliva. The cornerstone of managing flea allergies in dogs is effective flea control. This involves the use of flea control products on the dog as well as in the environment. There are many different types of flea control products available from your veterinarian, and you can visit a holistic vet for natural options.
It’s important to remember that it may take several weeks to months to get a flea infestation and flea allergy dermatitis under control, and continuous prevention is necessary to prevent re-infestation. All other pets in the household should also be treated for fleas, even if they are not experiencing issues with fleas.
Consulting with a veterinarian is crucial for the proper diagnosis and management of flea allergies in dogs. With effective flea control and appropriate treatment, most dogs with flea allergies can achieve a good quality of life.
Breeds Prone to Flea Allergies
Although flea allergies can affect dogs of any breed, some breeds appear to be more susceptible than others. Here are some of the dog breeds that are commonly reported to be more prone to flea allergies:
- West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Bichon Frise
Contact Dermatitis in Dogs
Contact dermatitis in dogs is an allergic skin reaction caused by direct contact with certain substances. It can be divided into two types:
- Irritant contact dermatitis
- Allergic contact dermatitis
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when a dog’s skin comes into direct contact with a substance that physically damages the skin. This isn’t an allergic reaction, but rather a direct result of a harsh substance, like a chemical or a toxic plant, irritating the skin. Common irritants include cleaning products, de-icing salts, certain types of carpet fibers, and some plants like poison ivy.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis, on the other hand, is a true allergy and involves an overreaction of the dog’s immune system to a specific substance. Unlike irritant contact dermatitis, which can affect any dog exposed to the irritant, allergic contact dermatitis only affects dogs that are hypersensitive to the allergen.
Common allergens include:
- Certain metals (like nickel)
- Certain types of plastics
- Topical medications
Environmental Allergens and Dogs
Environmental allergies, also known as atopic dermatitis, are common in dogs. These allergies occur when a dog’s immune system overreacts to certain substances in the environment. These substances, known as allergens, are typically harmless to most animals, but dogs with allergies will have an extreme response to them.
Common Environmental Allergens
There are many possible environmental allergens that can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. And some dogs may only experience seasonal allergies due to environmental allergens. Some of the most common environmental allergens include:
- Pollen: This can come from trees, grass, and weeds. The type of pollen that a dog is exposed to depends on the geographical area and the time of year. Seasonal allergies are common with pollen.
- Mold: Molds release tiny spores to reproduce, and dogs can inhale these spores when they are airborne. Molds can be found both indoors and outdoors, in damp and humid environments.
- Dust Mites: These tiny creatures are a common cause of allergies in dogs. They live in house dust and feed on dead skin cells.
- Feathers: Some dogs may be allergic to feathers, found in certain bedding or toys.
Reducing Environmental Allergens
Environmental control involves reducing the dog’s exposure to the allergen. For example, air filters can help reduce dust mites, and regular cleaning can help control mold. Certain diets or supplements, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids, can also help support the skin’s health and promote normal inflammatory pathways.
As with all health issues, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has environmental allergies. Proper diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve a dog’s comfort and quality of life.
Allergy Testing for Common Dog Allergies
Veterinarians perform allergy testing on dogs as a diagnostic procedure to determine the precise allergens causing an allergic reaction in a dog. The two main types of allergy tests are blood tests and intradermal skin tests.
Blood tests involve drawing a blood sample from the dog and testing it for specific antibodies against various potential allergens.
Intradermal skin tests, on the other hand, involve injecting small amounts of potential allergens under the dog’s skin and observing for reactions. Both tests can provide valuable information to help design a targeted treatment and management plan, making your dog more comfortable and improving their quality of life.
You can also find different testing and nutritional resources on our Resources Page.
The Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Both parts of the mushroom, the mycelium and fruiting body, work synergistically to develop a combined effect. This effect is similar to the entourage effect with cannabis, where all the compounds work together for the optimal effect. In holistic medicine, you will often hear ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,’ and that is made clear when providing cannabis or medicinal mushrooms to your dog. If you want the supplement to work, ensuring the product is full-spectrum is critical.
The benefits of a full-spectrum medicinal mushroom product include the following:
- Promotes normal inflammatory pathways
- Helps maintain normal histamine levels
- Supports pets with seasonal allergies
- Provides nutritional support for healthy immune function
It’s also important to understand where the mushrooms are sourced. Full transparency from the company is something you need to look for to make sure the product will work for your dog. At Earth Buddy, mushrooms are sourced from the USA in a USDA organic facility, where they are triple extracted for potency. Earth Buddy is the only organization that offers 3rd party testing of mushroom products for both purity and potency. You can see those results by clicking here.
Getting a Handle on Allergies
If your dog is uncomfortable, getting a handle on common dog allergies is important. You want your dog to be as comfortable as possible. Plus, you want them to look and feel healthy.
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