Allergies in Dogs

Common symptoms and treatment

An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to substances from outside the body that normally do not lead to such a reaction. The immune system is intended to clear up elements that do not belong in the body. In an allergy, a reaction is generated against substances in which such a reaction should not occur.

What are the symptoms of allergies in dogs?

The body’s unjustified immune response manifests itself in various complaints, depending on where the allergens come into contact with the body. Most allergies usually result in itching and redness of the skin to a greater or lesser degree. The specific location of the redness and itching says something about the form of allergy.

What are the symptoms of dog food allergies?

Food allergies are different from food intolerance. Food intolerance is the result of poor digestion, such as lactose intolerance. People and dogs with lactose intolerance are either missing or have low levels of the milk digesting enzyme lactase.

Food allergies are the over-response of your dog’s immune system to an invading protein. In the case of a food allergy, this protein is contained in your dog’s food. Proteins are present in most of the foods your dog eats. While most people recognize that meats are a source of proteins, there are also proteins present in grains and vegetables. Any one of these proteins has the potential to cause a food allergy.

Common dog allergy types

Flea allergy – allergy to flea bites.

Food allergy – allergy to certain nutrients. Read everything you need to know about dog food allergies here.

Atopy – allergy to respiratory allergens such as pollen and mites.

Contact allergy – allergy to substances that come into contact with the skin.

Drug allergy – allergy to certain medications.

How do we determine whether it is an allergy and if so which one?

The road to diagnosing an allergy can sometimes be difficult. An extensive interview in advance and a thorough physical examination usually point in the right direction. However, the differentiation for which allergy is often much more difficult. The difference between atopy and food allergy is particularly difficult to determine.

There are a number of diagnostic options we can use:

  • Elimination – for example through good flea control. If the itch subsides, it is likely that the dog has had a flea allergy.
  • Hypoallergenic diets (also a form of elimination)
  • Skin biopsies
  • Blood tests
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What treatment for a dog with an allergic reaction?

This depends entirely on the diagnosis. In any case, we are against the use of corticosteroids; this is not a treatment but only symptom relief and makes pure diagnosis impossible.

Overall, the following treatment methods can be used:


Avoid as much as possible of the substances against which the allergy exists. Useful for atopy, food allergy, contact allergy, drug allergy and flea allergy. Good flea control is a form of elimination.

Hypoallergenic diets

Useful in food allergies.


Making the dog less sensitive by repeated injections with increasing doses of the allergen. Useful with atopy


To reduce the allergic reaction of the body.


To reduce itching and soothe the skin.

Can we always treat allergies?

Yes and no. In most cases, it is ultimately possible to get the dog to be free of complaints. Sometimes, however, it is simply not possible to eliminate the allergens for 100%, such as pollen. Nevertheless, it is actually always possible to at least achieve a very acceptable itch reduction.

Read a story of our community member Michelle and her fight with dog skin allergy. Was there a happy ending? Read the story here.

Purpose of this article is to give information. To ensure the health and well-being of your pet, always consult any question or concerns with your veterinarian.

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