How to tell if your dog has an allergy

Do you have a dog that has recurring problems with itching or ear infections? If so, this could be a sign that your dog has some kind of underlying allergy that needs to be investigated by a vet. Here we'll tell you more about the different types of allergies dogs can suffer from and which symptoms you need to pay extra attention to. 

Dogs and allergies

Dogs can be allergic just like us humans. They can be allergic to something they eat, something in their environment or a combination of both. When dogs are allergic to something they eat it is called food allergy or feed allergy and when they are allergic to something in their environment it is called atopy. Allergy in dogs is a lifelong condition but most dogs who suffer from allergy will have reduced symptoms with the right care and treatments. A dog can therefore have a wonderful life despite being affected by allergies.

Food allergy

Food allergy, just as it sounds, means that the dog is allergic to something they eat. But what exactly they are allergic to can vary greatly. The allergic dog can be allergic to everything from soy protein to chicken and dairy products. Allergy is something that can develop over time and dogs can actually develop food allergies despite having eaten the same food all their lives. 

Two common misconceptions about food allergies in dogs are that the allergy is caused by grains and that allergic dogs feel better if they are fed a grain-free diet. This is not true, and most dogs actually react to a protein source in their food.

Symptoms of food allergy

The most common signs of a food allergy are itching or gastrointestinal problems. In particular, irritated skin is a classic sign of food hypersensitivity. If you suspect that your dog has these problems, it may be a good idea to see a vet for investigation.

Atopy - airborne allergy

When dogs are allergic to something in their environment, this type of allergy is called atopy, in other words airborne allergy. Dogs can be allergic to many different things in their environment but two common examples are mites and pollen. If your dog has allergy symptoms that vary greatly depending on the time of year, it could be a sign that the dog is allergic to something in its environment.

Symptoms of airborne allergy

The main symptom of airborne allergy in dogs is itching. It can be general or occur in specific areas of the body. The most common sites for itching are the face, groin, paws and armpits. The dog will usually lick or gnaw the area excessively. However, it is important to point out that if the dog is itchy, it may be caused by other things, such as parasites. Other signs of airborne allergy may be that your dog gets recurrent ear infections. In this case, it's a good idea to seek help from your vet.

At first, the allergy is only seasonal. This may be because what the dog is reacting to only appears in certain seasons, such as pollen allergies. Unfortunately, it is often the case that a dog develops an atopy allergy to more airborne substances, which means that in the long term it can have problems all year round.

My dog may have allergies

If you suspect that your dog has an allergy, you should contact a vet who can investigate the dog's symptoms and set up the necessary treatment. An allergic dog's treatment is always individually tailored to the dog's symptoms and degree of discomfort. 

To diagnose allergy, vets weigh up the dog's various symptoms and before determining that the dog has any type of allergy, they are careful to rule out other causes that may present similar symptoms, such as parasites.

Allergy is a lifelong diagnosis, but most dogs who suffer from allergies will have reduced symptoms with proper care and treatment. A dog can therefore have a good life despite being affected by allergies.

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