Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatments (Pasadena, MD)

Some common complaints veterinarians get from dog owners are things like chronic paw chewing, ear shaking and scratching, and raw, red skin. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies, and allergies in dogs can be placed into one or a combination of three categories: Food, skin, and the environment. An allergy is a condition of hypersensitivity of the immune system to an allergen, a type of antigen. Allergens are proteins produced by plants, grasses, insects, chemicals, foods, or other animals, and these allergens can cause the immune system can go haywire, especially with repeated exposure. Allergens tend to cause produce a vigorous immune response, releasing histamines which in turn cause inflammation, itching, and red skin. It’s the inflammation that causes many of the signs and symptoms of allergies.

Dog Allergy Treatments in Pasadena, MD

Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs in Pasadena, MD

Do you suspect that your dog has allergies? Below are listed ten common signs and symptoms, but it is always recommended that you consult your veterinarian first.

Itchy Skin

One of the most common complaints dog owners have when it comes to allergies is itching. If your dog is constantly scratching, or biting, or chewing at herself, she is most likely trying to relieve the itchiness and inflammation. Constant scratching can cause redness of the skin, hair loss, bleeding, and the possibility of a secondary skin infection such as “hot spots.” Although most dogs with itchy skin suffer from food allergies, the best solution is to make an appointment with your veterinarian and have your pet examined.

Constant Licking and Facial Rubbing

Another sign that your dog may have allergies is excessive licking, especially in areas of the paws, legs, and rectum. Most often, dogs will lick their paws and pads to relieve itching and inflammation. Facial rubbing and scratching are can also be signs of allergies and skin irritation as well. Of course, it’s always recommended to have your veterinarian examine your pet to rule out the possibility of a foreign body or something embedded in the skin.

Swelling of the Ears, Eyelids, or Face

If your dog has a sudden swelling around the face, lips, ears, or eyelids, it might be an allergic reaction to an insect bite, sting, certain foods, medications, plants, or other environmental allergens. It’s always recommended that you consult with your veterinarian right away, especially if there is swelling around the face and neck, since swelling in these areas may restrict the airway and cause difficulty breathing.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea may be signs of allergies in dogs as well, and most often than not, may indicate a food allergy. Symptoms of food allergies in dogs involve gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea. If vomiting and diarrhea persist, it’s always recommended that you consult your veterinarian as continued vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances in your pet.


Hives are noticeable raised bumps on the skin, and although hives are usually rare in dogs, they can be caused by an acute allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, certain medications, shampoos, chemicals, or plants. Rashes in dogs can also be exacerbated by exposure to exercise, stress, sunlight, or heat.

Red Skin

Red skin and skin infections are common side effects of allergies in dogs and are usually related to chronic scratching. Your dog can develop a secondary skin infection, or a staph infection known as “hot spots” due to repeated scratching. Again, a trip to your local veterinarian is recommended if the scratching persists.

Scratching at Ears, Shaking Ears, and Ear Infections

Scratching at the ears and ear infections be a common issue in dogs, especially in floppy ear breeds such as Cocker Spaniels and hound dogs. Oftentimes, ear infections are related to allergies, especially with dogs that have recurring ear infections. Constant head shaking, and red and inflamed ears are the main symptoms, and chronic shaking can cause something called an aural hematoma, which occurs when the blood vessels in the floppy part of the ear burst, and bleed into the space between the skin and the cartilage of the ear, causing the ear to look “puffy.” Ear infections can be very uncomfortable and even painful for many dogs, so it is important to schedule an examination with your veterinarian in these cases.


Sometimes allergies in dogs can cause sneezing and other respiratory issues, although it’s more common in cats than in dogs. If your dog has been sneezing chronically or exhibits nasal discharge or nasal discharge that is either green or yellow, it is recommended to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out serious respiratory issues.

Hair Loss

Another symptom of possible allergies in dogs is hair loss or alopecia. It is normal for dogs to shed some fur, especially at certain times of the year, but it’s not normal for your pet to lose large amounts of hair to the point where your dog has bald, patchy spots. Hair loss due to allergies may be due to constant licking, scratching, and you may notice brown saliva stains from the constant licking of the feet. Sometimes hair loss can be triggered by certain foods, or environmental allergens such as pollen or mold, as well as other factors such as parasites, fleas, or dust mites. Hair loss due to allergies can also be triggered by parasites, such as mange, so it’s always best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Ocular Discharge

If your dog presents with any kind of discharge from the eye, it’s very important to book an appointment with your veterinarian.  If your pet has a yellow or green discharge from one or both eyes, it can be a sign of conjunctivitis, which can be caused by allergies. However, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out other causes such as eye injury, a foreign body, or tear duct problems.

Dog Allergy Treatments in Pasadena, MD

Allergies in dogs can be treated topically with creams or shampoos, and others can be treated with medications and/or immunotherapy. Your veterinarian can determine the exact cause of the allergy, and help to treat the cause. If you suspect that your dog has allergies, consult your veterinarian, especially since symptoms of allergies can also occur with other health disorders.

Depending upon what your veterinarian suggests, the following treatments may be recommended:

  • Shampoos, conditioners, and creams. Depending on the source of your dogs’ allergies, your veterinarian may recommend a variety of shampoos, conditioners, or creams. Some of these products contain steroids such as hydrocortisone that can help relieve itchy skin.
  • Antihistamines. These medications block the effects of a chemical that triggers allergy symptoms, and many are sold over the counter. However, consult your veterinarian before trying out any kind, your veterinarian will be able to tell you which antihistamine would be best for your dog and which dose would be appropriate.
  • Decongestants. Decongestants can reduce swelling in the nasal cavity and relieve stuffiness. However, please consult your veterinarian first.
  • Allergy shots and immunotherapy. Another option for treating allergies in dogs are allergy shots, and immunotherapy (a form of long-time treatment that attempts to boost the immune system and decrease allergen sensitivity). There are several products available, and your veterinarian will be able to offer you the appropriate information.
  • Hypoallergenic diets. Depending on the cause of your dog’s allergies, it may be worth it to try a hypoallergenic diet. Many skin allergies can be traced to food allergens. Again, it’s best to discuss this with your veterinarian.

Talk with your veterinarian at Lake Shore Pet Hospital about your dog’s allergy treatment options by calling (410) 317-2028 today!

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You want only the best for your family and you always keep their best interests in mind. We understand your pet is a part of that family. Our veterinarian's mission at Lake Shore Pet Hospital is deeply rooted in treating you and your pet family how we'd like ours treated. We take great satisfaction in giving back to and developing strong bonds with the communities we serve, including Pasadena, Riviera Beach, and Lake Shore.