Can Dogs Have Allergies?

Allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system. Antibodies are specialized cells of the immune system that protect the body from foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Specific white blood cells such as eosinophils also play a role in the development of allergies.

Sometimes, these protective cells misrecognize harmless substances like saliva from bug bites, inhaled dust, pollen, proteins in food, or even cleaning solutions. When the white blood cells think these substances are dangerous, they attack and inflammation and itchy skin results. The heightened response to these substances, called allergens, is what causes the allergy symptoms you or your puppy suffers. Learn how to recognize, diagnose and treat common puppy allergies in these articles.

  • 01 of 05

    Flea Allergies

    Fleas are not just itchy, they carry (and cause) disease. Nick Ridley/Getty Images

    A flea allergy is the most common allergy that affects dogs. Sensitive dogs develop skin disease when they react to a protein in flea saliva, and it may only take one bite to provoke all-over itching. Signs are seasonal, which typically are the warm summer months of flea season, but can be year around in some parts of the country.

    The most common sign is extreme itchiness on the rear half of the dog, particularly the area on the back immediately above the tail. Flea control is essential for dogs suffering from flea allergic dermatitis because it only takes a single flea bite to set your puppy into a scratching frenzy.

    There are many products available to safely eliminate fleas on your dog and his environment.

  • 02 of 05

    Atopy and Inhalant Allergies

    3 Westie Pups
    Image Copr. Life on White/Getty Images

    Atopy is the equivalent to human "hay fever." Dogs can react to the same types of things that cause owners to suffer sneeze attacks during the spring and fall months. About ten to fifteen percent of the dog population is allergic to something they breathe from the environment, making inhalant allergy, or atopy, the second most common allergy in dogs.

    While a few dogs may also develop runny eyes and nose, the most common signs of canine hay fever are itchy skin. Atopy requires veterinary diagnosis and can be a challenge to control since it’s nearly impossible to avoid the culprits— grass, for instance — in the puppy’s environment.

  • 03 of 05

    Puppy Food Allergies

    Pup refuses to eat food
    Image Copr. Andrew Bret Wallis/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Food allergies are not nearly as common as flea allergy or inhalant allergy (atopy). Those dogs that are food allergic reactions to one or more ingredients in a diet. Usually, the culprit is a protein that’s commonly found in the ingredients of commercial pet foods.

    It can be very difficult to diagnose a food allergy because so many different ingredients make up common pet foods, and even a small amount could prompt a reaction. Proteins are found not only in meats, but also in grain ingredients, milk, and eggs.

  • 04 of 05

    Puppy Contact Allergy

    Sleepy pup
    Neo Vision/Getty Images

    Contact allergy in dogs tends to be pretty rare because of the protective nature of your puppy’s fur coat. When it does occur, you’ll see inflammation where the thinly furred areas like the tummy or the paws come in contact with the floor.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Managing Allergies to Dogs

    Boy and puppy in grass
    Image Copr. Chris Stein/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    It’s a sad state of affairs when the puppy you’ve fallen in love with also makes you sneeze. Pollen, mold, fungi, and even the house dust mite make people cough, wheeze, and have difficulty breathing. Allergies to pets can be especially problematic to people with asthma and can affect health all year long.

    It’s not the fur, though, that causes a reaction to your puppy. The pet’s skin produces secretions that can cause allergic reactions along with shed skin and dried saliva. This combination is referred to as “dander” and can cause severe reactions in some people.