Written by Anna Hollisey
Short answer: yes, they can! In this article, we dig into the science to learn how and why our dogs develop allergies at different stages of life.
An allergy is not easy to diagnose. That’s because almost all allergy symptoms can be linked to other conditions and diseases, and some can even be serious.
*If your dog’s behavior has changed, or they’ve suddenly developed any of these symptoms, it’s important to get them checked by a vet. They’ll carry out the right tests to rule out severe conditions.*
However, it’s important to know that dogs can develop new allergies at any age. That means it’s helpful to be vigilant and watch for the key indicators. These are the main allergy symptoms in dogs:
An allergy is caused when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. It can be inherited or prompted by years of exposure. Dog allergies are quite common, especially the environmental types. Allergies tend to be grouped in three main categories:
Human allergens – like dust mites, mold, and all kinds of pollen – can affect dogs too. These are often seasonal (which helps us to identify the specific allergen affecting our dog!).
Can an environmental allergy develop suddenly? This type of allergy is more likely to be inherited (and will generally show by the time your dog is 3 years old). But symptoms can worsen over time, or if you move home, so your dog may appear to have developed a new allergy.
If your dog has Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), just one flea bite could drive them to distraction. Fleas inject saliva when they latch on to a dog’s skin. This contains irritating antigens, which makes the dog itchy. Dogs can also be allergic to other insect bites, such as spider or bee bites.
Can flea allergies develop suddenly? FAD can start at any time in your dog’s life. If they have other allergies, they’re more prone to developing FAD.
Food intolerance isn’t strictly an allergy, but it involves a biological reaction to a trigger food. The most common food ‘allergies’ in dogs are beef, chicken, dairy, soy, and eggs. Dog food which is labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ will not usually contain any of these ingredients.
Can food allergies develop suddenly? Yes. But the sudden onset of symptoms isn’t as sudden as it appears. Your dog has been building up an immune response to the allergen, and now the antibodies have reached an excessively high level. In effect, your dog’s body is trying to repel the allergen, which eventually causes symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
First, make an appointment with your vet. (We know… nobody likes it, especially the dog.) It’s important to get an expert opinion in case the symptoms are caused by something completely different. The vet may recommend tests:
Once your dog is diagnosed, you’ll have several treatment options: