Your dog has been scratching and licking himself a lot lately, his eyes are watery, and he keeps sneezing. Could it be a cold? Maybe fleas or other parasites? Possibly, but it’s also possible that your dog has allergies.

According to the ASPCA, 20% of pets may suffer from one or more allergies. Scroll down to learn more about the types of allergies your dog may have, common symptoms and treatment options for your dog.

Some common canine allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Dander (from cats or even people)
  • Feathers
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Prescription drugs
  • Food ingredients (including beef, chicken, pork, wheat, soy, corn and more) – For more on food allergies in dogs, click here.
  • Fleas and flea-control products
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning products/chemicals
  • Fabrics
  • Insecticidal shampoo
  • Rubber and plastic materials

General allergy symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
  • Increased scratching
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Itchy back or base of tail
  • Itchy ears and ear infections
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring when a dog is not generally prone to it (this can indicate an inflamed throat)
  • Paw chewing/swollen paws
  • Constant licking

If you think your dog might have allergies, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. The vet will most likely want to conduct blood and/or skin tests, and possibly prescribe an elimination diet, to determine what the allergen is.

In terms of allergy susceptibility, the ASPCA notes that Terriers, Setters, Retrievers, and brachycephalic breeds such as Boxers, Pugs and Bulldogs tend to be predisposed to allergies. Most dog allergies first appear between the ages of one and three; however, any dog can develop allergies over the course of his life. Like us, seasonal allergies in dogs are common, but some do get worse over time and can become year-round.

Generally, allergies can be treated/prevented by removing the suspect allergens from the environment:

  • Make sure to use a flea control program for all your pets. For more on this, check out our flea prevention blog post here.
  • To eliminate dust and dust mites, clean your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice a week (including rugs, curtains, and any other materials that can pick up dust)
  • Bathe your pet weekly with a prescription shampoo. Consult your vet to find out which shampoo is best for your pet.
  • If your vet prescribes a specific diet as a response to a food allergy, make sure to stick with it.
  • Keep your home smoke-free.

If these methods don’t work or aren’t sufficient, your vet may recommend other treatments, including allergy injections, antihistamines, fatty acid supplements or other prescription options.

As always, if your dog is showing signs of allergies or any illness, please make sure to consult your veterinarian before trying any over-the-counter remedies. While the internet can be a valuable tool for gathering information, only a vet can customize a treatment plan for your pet that will give him the best chance at the best health and recovery.

Source: WebMD and ASPCA