The Best Ways To Treat Your Dog's Allergies

Many people view their dogs as no different than their human children. They take them on daily walks, snuggle them on the couch, throw them birthday parties, and even buy them cute matching outfits and costumes when Halloween rolls around. In fact, a survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners shared by People indicated that four in 10 initially got their pet as a "starter child" to test themselves on whether they were ready to have kids. What's even more shocking is that 35% of parents admitted they have accidentally called their child by their pet's name — something that happens 17 times per month on average.

Like being a parent to a human child, being a dog parent requires taking responsibility for your dog's daily needs. That includes treating medical concerns like allergies. Many dog owners aren't aware of just how common dog allergies are (via Veterinary Centers of America). There are a couple of different types of allergies you should be on the lookout for so that your dog can receive the proper treatment when or if a flare-up happens. 

First, let's talk about the different types of dog allergies

Knowing what symptoms to look for is essential in treating your furry friend's allergies. There are three major types of allergies that dogs typically experience: skin allergies, food allergies, and acute allergic reactions (per the American Kennel Club). Skin allergies, perhaps the most common in dogs, are caused mainly by flea bites, food, or environmental allergens like dust or pollen. All these factors can cause a dog's skin to itch and become red, inflamed, and scabbed.

True food allergies in dogs are typically uncommon and can range from facial swelling to vomiting and anaphylaxis in severe cases. Usually, when a pet owner says their dog has food allergies, they mean their dog has a food sensitivity, which is less of an immune response (as seen with an allergy) and more of a gradual reaction to an ingredient like wheat, soy, eggs, etc.

Acute allergic reactions can be pretty alarming and are triggered by foreign substances like bee venom, medications, and chemicals (via Veterinary Centers of America). Like people, dogs can go into anaphylactic shock in severe cases. The American Kennel Club recommends keeping a close eye on your dog when administering new medications and vaccines for this reason.

So, how do you treat dog allergies?

If your dog is experiencing itchiness, hives, swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, itchy ears, and/or constant licking, he or she probably has an allergy. The best way to treat the allergy is to avoid the cause of the allergen (per the American Kennel Club). It may be difficult to pinpoint what specifically is causing the problem, but figuring out the root is the best starting point. For example, if your dog is having an allergic reaction to flea bites, it's important to remove the fleas from your dog and your home. If your dog has a mild reaction to his food, change his diet. For temporary skin relief during an allergic flare-up, medicated oatmeal and aloe baths may be soothing for your pet's skin (via PetMDetMD). A paw soak with Epsom salt or implementing diluted apple cider vinegar into their diet can also be helpful for seasonal allergies.

Checking in with your vet during your dog's yearly check-up is recommended so that a prescription allergy medication can be administered if necessary (per Veterinary Emergency Group). However, some pet allergies can be more serious and require immediate veterinary care. If you're ever unsure whether an urgent trip to the vet is necessary, look for emergency signs including repeated vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, difficulty breathing, abdominal bloating, and high fever (per Go Pet Friendly). Remember, it's better to be safe than sorry! You wouldn't hold off on taking your sick baby to the emergency room, so keep the same energy when your fur baby needs urgent care too.