Everyone can get allergies, even dogs, but their allergies can present themselves in various ways. From hair loss to inflamed and itchy skin, stomach upset and ear infections, dog allergies are never pleasant to deal with. In this blog post, we discuss the answer to your question, “What can I give my puppy for allergies?”
Different Types of Allergies
Veterinarians will usually place a dog’s allergies into three categories: food, skin, and environmental, which are further discussed below.
Fortunately, food allergies aren’t too common — only one in 500 dogs will be affected by this allergy. Even so, many puppies can develop intolerance to certain food items which could result in vomiting or diarrhea. This happens when dogs react to food ingredients that are usually a source of protein, such as chicken, beef, pork, lamb, wheat, soy, egg, and dairy products.
Food allergies aren’t a seasonal occurrence; affected pups will usually feed on the offending food for as long as two years before developing food intolerances. When they do show signs of food allergy, they will tend to itch around the armpit, rump, face, groin, and between their toes. Because it’s less common compared to other allergies, just 10% of puppies are affected by food allergies.
Like food allergies, this kind of allergy affects 10% of dogs through contact with something that irritates them such as insect bites. One of the most common skin allergies in dogs is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), caused by an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva. Flea allergies can be so irritating that it only takes one flea to make your pup resort to excessive scratching.
Flea bites can result in skin irritation so severe that dogs resort to pulling out their own hair, and attack their own skin which results in reddened and raw hot spots. These will often be located around their necks or at the base of their tails. Dog owners should also look for the following symptoms:
- Flaky or inflamed skin
- Hair loss
- Excessive licking and scratching
- Intense rubbing of face or ears
- Chewing or biting the skin
Also known as seasonal allergies, these refer to environmental allergens such as mold, pollen, pollution, and dust mites. Just like humans, dogs are also likely to suffer from watery eyes, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing when exposed to such allergens. Alternatively, this condition is called atopy and affects around 15% of all dogs in the country.
Puppies with atopy will experience seasonal itching around their paws, armpits, and face. It will also first appear in dogs that are between one to three years of age. The most common symptoms of atopy are recurrent ear infections, along with skin infections from bacteria and yeast.
Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs
Generally, the following signs are mostly associated with dog allergy symptoms:
- Red skin
- Red pimples or bumps on the skin (skin infection)
- Hair loss
- Swelling around the lips, face, ears, or eyelids
- Increase in skin odor
- Red paws that have been stained brown as a result of excessive licking
- Itchy and runny eyes
- Excessive dandruff
- Sneezing and coughing
- Diarrhea, vomiting, and excess gas due to food allergy
- Increased itching and discharge from your puppy’s ears (ear infection)
- Dark, thickened skin as a result of chronic yeast infection
- Excessive itching can be identified through increased scratching, licking, chewing, and rubbing of the skin on furniture or the carpet
Treatment Options for Canine Allergies
When we see our pups having an allergic reaction, whether it’s from airborne allergens, food intolerance, or flea bites, it’s only natural for pet parents to provide allergy relief. However, determining the right treatment plan for your dog’s allergies will depend on the severity and type. It’s a good idea to take your pup to the vet to see the root cause of your dog’s allergy symptoms.
Skin allergies can be easily identified — associated symptoms are typically localized and will usually come from a single source: fleas. Your vet will perform standard allergy testing along with a blood test before checking for other sources of pet allergies. When it comes to food allergies, your vet will likely recommend putting your dog on an elimination diet.
This means starting a hypoallergenic diet that uses limited ingredient foods in your dog’s food for the next six to eight weeks until your dog’s symptoms clear. When your dog’s body returns to normal, then you can slowly reintroduce foods in their diet to look for an allergic response. When it comes to environmental allergies, there are quite a few things that you do to help your allergic dog.
What You Can Give Your Puppy for Allergies
But what can you actually give your dog if they’re suffering from an allergy for the first time? Today, there are plenty of over-the-counter medications, online products, and supplements that you can use to help your furry friend find relief at home. Below is an in-depth look into each option.
Providing your pup with a prebiotic supplement is the best way to eliminate allergy symptoms as they begin and to keep allergy sufferers comfortable moving forward. Be sure to look for options that contain an active ingredient that contains anti-inflammatory and allergy-fighting properties. Fish oil supplements such as krill oil work well as an allergy medication because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and provide your puppy with a healthier coat and skin. Another great ingredient to look for is Methylsulfonylmethane or “MSM,” which can help to reduce inflammation and pain. It also prevents allergic reactions and helps to maintain immune cells in your puppy’s body.
According to research, the allergy medicine that humans might take to fight symptoms of their own seasonal allergies may also work for their dogs. Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl), are effective and safe to use on dogs, as long as they’re given the proper dosage. Experts agree that dogs should be given 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of body weight when delivered orally.
While this solution, along with other antihistamines may help to counteract most allergic reactions, they still pose a risk for negative side effects. For some dogs, they may get drowsy while others will become more hyper. Because of this, it’s always best to speak to your veterinarian first before using them for a pet allergy.
Giving your pup antihistamines may relieve itchy dogs from the inside out, but having hypoallergenic shampoos in your medicine cabinet can help to relieve them of discomfort through a nice bath. If your dog loves to run and roll about in grass but starts to display symptoms of pollen allergies, these shampoos can help you wash the allergens off their skin and coat. This will prevent excessive licking and scratching even when you’re not around.
But before you get hands-on with your dog, remember to work the shampoo gently into a rich lather around the affected areas. Allow it to sit on their skin and coat for around five minutes before rinsing it away with water. Never use hot water with hypoallergenic shampoo because this can dry your dog’s skin and exacerbate the problem.
You can also use natural supplements such as quercetin (also known as nature’s Benadryl), yucca, apple cider vinegar, bromelain, and coconut oil to provide relief for allergies and itchy skin. While more research is needed, these solutions are generally considered safe for dogs. Moreover, research shows that oatmeal and aloe vera may also help to reduce skin irritation in pups.
But before you try any of these natural remedies, be sure to consult with your vet first, and be sure to try out a skin test before applying them throughout the affected areas.
These are used on the dog’s skin to help treat hot spots, itchy skin, and inflammation. Topical sprays will often be used on localized areas to help manage skin allergies with minimal side effects. Topical steroids provide the same relief and are directly sprayed onto their skin, or can be used in the form of drops to combat ear infections.
Common topical treatments for dog allergies include Hydrocortisone and Cortavance. These types of prescription medications allow for a cleaner and easier application compared to topical ointments. Moreover, dog steroids can be used to treat fungal infections when they’re combined with anti-fungal ingredients.
Injectables are another solution for allergies in dogs and can work especially well for dogs with serious environmental or seasonal allergies. Atopic dermatitis in dogs, along with its associated symptoms can be treated with canine atopic dermatologic immunotherapy. This injectable targets itchy, inflamed skin as well as painful lesions.
It works by changing a dog’s immune system to reduce the symptoms of their allergy. These allergy shots can increase your dog’s tolerance to seasonal allergies, but you will need to apply the correct dosage until you reach maintenance levels. However, it could take as long as six months for the immunotherapy to work, so be sure that you’re ready to commit to at least one year of this treatment.
Do Dog Allergies Go Away Without Treatment?
Unfortunately, dog allergies don’t just work themselves out on their own. The moment that your dog develops an allergy, you will need to visit your vet for treatment options to minimize their symptoms and lower the risk of getting allergies again.
When Do Allergies Become an Emergency?
Should your dog develop an allergic reaction to a sting, bite, or a particular type of food, it could trigger anaphylactic shock which can be life-threatening. Be sure to look for specific symptoms of allergies, such as:
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish gums or tongue
- Sudden diarrhea
- Swollen face
If you notice any of these signs, be sure to seek immediate treatment from your vet.
How Can You Treat Allergies at Home?
Before you attempt to treat your dog’s allergies from the comfort of your home, be sure to consult a vet first. Should you notice sneezing or itching in your dogs, be sure to have them diagnosed first before asking for any kind of treatment. When your vet determines the problem, they’ll be able to provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan which could have different kinds of medications.
What Can You Give to a Dog with Allergies?
Benadryl is a common antihistamine used to manage dog allergies and reduce their symptoms. Other options include nasal spray, oral medications, and hypoallergenic food depending on the symptoms your dog has. However, you should never give human medication to dogs without talking to your vet about the right dosages first.
When Should I Call a Doctor?
If your dog seems to be scratching more than usual, be sure to talk to your vet. Excessive itching and scratching may point to a wide range of illnesses, and therefore, should be diagnosed as quickly as possible. Moreover, speaking to your vet can help to reduce all symptoms of allergies and will help to get the right treatment faster.
Should I Give Claritin to a Dog?
Because there are many different kinds of Claritin, it’s best to avoid them altogether because some can be toxic to your dog. For instance, Claritin-D has the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which is toxic for pets. However, your vet could prescribe Claritin for your pup — the dosage will depend on how much they weigh.
How You Can Help with Your Pet’s Allergies
There’s no doubt that seeing your puppy struggle with allergies can be scary; fortunately, you have many options to choose from when it comes to treatments. Depending on the severity of your pup’s symptoms, you may get a combination of treatments from your vet. The good news is, as long as you keep an eye on your puppy and feed them the best dog foods, you’ll be able to detect symptoms of allergies early before they get serious.