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Symptoms and Treatments for Pet Allergies

Written by Anna Hollisey


Dog sniffing yellow flowers

If your pet’s suffering with itchy skin, sneezing, or inflammation, here’s some good news: you can help to reduce their symptoms. 

Common Pet Allergies

We’re going to cover dog allergies in three main categories:

1. Environmental Allergies. 

This includes allergens which also affect some humans – like pollen (hay fever), mould, and dust mites. Like humans, dogs produce histamines, which set off symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezes, and swelling. This group of allergies is simplest to diagnose. You can often work out if your dog’s been exposed to an environmental allergen.  

Common Symptoms: Runny noses, puffy eyelids, sneezing and inflammation. [Find treatment options below.] 

2. Flea Allergies.   

Flea allergy dermatitis is a skin condition which is triggered by an outbreak of fleas. It’s common (and on the rise) because some dogs have a higher immune response to parasites. 

Common Symptoms: Before you find fleas, you might notice your dog biting and rubbing at their skin where they’re being bitten. Ask your vet to check for fleas or do a skin allergy test.  

3. Food Intolerance.  

Not strictly an allergy, but food intolerance comes into this group because it produces symptoms caused by allergens. Dogs can develop intolerance to many kinds of food. The most common are beef, chicken, wheat, dairy, and eggs. 

Common Symptoms: Food intolerance causes gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhoea, or loss of appetite). 

Treating Common Pet Allergies

Time for some good news: there’s plenty you can do at home to help your pet gain relief from their allergy symptoms. 

Tackling the cause and treating the symptoms of environmental allergies

  • Ask your vet to recommend a pet-suitable antihistamine like Bendryl/learn/dog-health/can-you-give-claritin-to-dogs-with-allergies.
  • Eliminate dust mites and other insects: wash pet bedding at the highest possible temperature.
  • Vacuum meticulously, especially cracks and ledges.
  • If your dog has a pollen allergy, avoid taking them out when the pollen count is high.

Tackling the cause and treating the symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis

  • Go to your vet. They can prescribe medication which kills fleas in as little as an hour. They might also recommend a medicated shampoo and a longer-term (3-month) treatment, if your dog hasn’t used one. 
  • Use an antihistamine like Benadryl if your dog has itchy skin. 
  • Try a natural remedy for flea bites: make a paste of ground oatmeal or baking soda with just-boiled water. Let it cool and apply to flea bites to soothe the skin. 
  • Another topical remedy recommended by the American Kennel Club: coconut oil. This readily-available oil forms a barrier which protects damaged skin; apply it in very small amounts and see if it reduces your dog’s scratching. Don’t apply on broken skin.  

Tackling the cause and treating the symptoms of food intolerances

  • Start by switching your dog to a hypoallergenic diet. It’s pretty simple: you can buy hypoallergenic dog food – trial this for 12 weeks to see if it works. 
  • Ongoing symptoms suggest a problem with your dog’s regular food, but infrequent bouts of diarrhoea or sickness suggest your dog is intolerant to something they only eat occasionally. Tackle this by avoiding one food at a time (like dairy or beef). 
  • Our supplement, Soothe/products/soothe, is designed to ease the symptoms of allergies and promote silky skin. It contains Omega-3 fish oil (to reduce inflammation) plus three postbiotics (for healthy guts and skin). 

Further Reading

This article is a speed-digest of several topics related to allergies in dogs. Read more to learn about treatments for allergies/learn/dog-health/what-can-i-give-my-dog-for-allergies (and supplements worth trying/learn/dog-health/understanding-allergy-supplements-for-dogs). If you suspect a food allergy, read  Is Wheat Bad for Dogs?/learn/dog-food/is-wheat-bad-for-dogs,  and learn about giving human antihistamines like Claritin and Benadryl/learn/dog-health/can-you-give-claritin-to-dogs-with-allergies