How common are allergies in dogs?

Allergies in dogs are very common, especially here in Texas. We see cases every day. In fact, half of our schedule as veterinarians is often filled with dealing with allergies.

Dr. Gretchen Wright
Highland Park Animal Hospital

How do allergies impact the health and well-being of my dog?

Allergies mostly cause your dog to be extremely itchy, leading them to scratch, shake, and rub their face. This can result in sleepless nights for both you and your pet due to their constant scratching and chewing. Secondary infections can also occur from the excessive scratching and chewing, further exacerbating the itchiness. It's a vicious cycle that can create distress for you and your pet.

Besides itchiness, what are some signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs?

While the most common symptom is itching, secondary infections, ear infections, skin rashes, and excessive chewing are common signs. In the case of an acute allergic reaction, your dog may have red, puffy eyes, a swollen face, or start sneezing.

Can I diagnose my dog's allergies at home?

While you can look for symptoms at home, like excessive chewing, face rubbing, or ear scratching, it's recommended to make an appointment with a vet if you notice these signs. This way, we can properly diagnose and address your pet's allergies.

How will a veterinarian diagnose allergies in my dog?

A vet will first examine where your pet is chewing or rubbing to see if there's an infection that needs to be addressed. We also use the seasonal component to help us determine possible allergens. If your pet is dealing with allergies year-round, we may consider food allergies. Ultimately, a blood test can be conducted to diagnose what your pet is specifically allergic to.

How are dog allergies treated using anti-inflammatory therapies?

We used to use prednisone frequently, but it has many side effects due to its comprehensive blocking of all inflammatory pathways. Nowadays, we use specific anti-inflammatories that target inflammation caused by allergies, which are safer with fewer side effects.

How is shampoo therapy used for dog allergies?

We often use shampoos to treat infections topically. These shampoos contain antifungals or antibacterials which help target specific localized infections. Aloe-based shampoos are particularly beneficial as they help with itchiness, and cold water can also be soothing and anti-itch.

What is hyposensitization or desensitization therapy for dog allergies?

Hyposensitization or desensitization therapy refers to allergy shots, similar to what people can receive. We use a blood test or a skin test to determine what your pet is allergic to, then create shots based on these findings. These shots contain small amounts of the allergens and aim to train the pet's body not to react so severely to these allergens over time.

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