Types of Allergic Reactions in Dogs

Updated: April 05, 2023

It is miserable for a pet parent to see allergic reactions in dogs.

The immune system protects the body from viruses, diseases, and infections. Allergic reactions in dogs take place when the immune system overreacts to an allergen, an often harmless substance but one which can cause a heightened immune response in some pets. Substances such as pollen, certain foods, certain products, dust mites, insect stings, certain medications, and components of vaccines can all act as allergens that trigger reactions.

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"When a dog is exposed to certain allergens he's allergic to, it will cause swelling of the face, the throat, lips, eyelids and ears."

The following are common types of allergic reactions in dogs and what you can possibly do to help prevent them and ease the symptoms.

Types of Dog Allergic Reactions & What Causes Allergic Reactions in Dogs

General Allergic Reactions Symptoms

Hives and Facial Swelling. When a dog is exposed to certain allergens he's allergic to, it may cause swelling of the face, the throat, lips, eyelids and ears. An allergen exposure can also cause hives in dogs. The most common causes of hives on dogs are insect bites or stings, shampoos, and medications according to Merck Veterinary Manual.

Hives appear as dome-shaped wheals and will feel soft to the touch with a fluid-like swelling. Hives can appear extremely quickly after exposure to an allergen. You might notice them seeming to multiply once you notice the first few. This is another reason why a quick response time is so important will allergic reactions in dogs.

Signs of hives and facial swelling:

  • Swelling of the face, ear flaps, eye lids, or throat
  • Batches of red or skin-colored welts (wheals)
  • Itching

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Anaphylactic Reactions

Anaphylactic reactions are severe and potentially fatal allergic reactions. Have you ever seen a person suddenly swell up or nearly die from eating peanuts because he was allergic to them? Or somebody suddenly rushed to the hospital after he had eaten a lobster because he was allergic to seafood? These are examples of anaphylactic reactions, which can cause life-threatening reactions within minutes.

Anaphylactic reactions in dogs can sometimes occur when your dog is stung by a bee or a wasp or due to a certain medication or when they react to certain medications or vaccines. According to The Spruce Pets, the excessive amounts of histamines in the body during an anaphylactic reaction may lead to low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and narrowing of airways—bringing the body into a shock.

In dogs experiencing this type of allergic reaction, it the entire body is impacted. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, facial swelling, excessive drooling, pale gums & tongue, sudden seizures, coma, and in extreme cases, even death. Because an allergic reaction can affect the entire body, it is extremely dangerous for your dog to experience an allergic reaction.

Food Allergies in Dogs

Food allergies happen when your dog reacts to something they have eaten or ingested. An important thing to note: Your furbaby will not be allergic to something they have not eaten, ingested, or exposed to it. Dogs often need repeated exposure to a food in order for an immune response to develop. In a food allergic reaction, your dog might have an upset stomach. However, this type of allergic reaction may also present itself as skin and coat problems, with symptoms like itching, skin redness, and fur loss.

Dog Skin Allergies

Skin allergies in dogs is also another type of allergic reaction. It can either be caused by the dog's diet, fleas and ticks, and environmental factors. Your dog may react to specific ingredients in his diet like chicken, flea saliva or tick bites on his skin, or allergens in the environment like pollens or dust.

Signs of Allergic Reactions in Dogs

For anaphylactic reactions in dogs

  • Pale gums
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weak but rapid pulse
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Shock

For food allergies in dogs

  • Excessive itching
  • Licking paws excessively
  • Flaky skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflamed or red skin

For skin allergy reactions

  • Excessive itching
  • Inflammation and redness of skin
  • Hot spots
  • Hair loss

For seasonal allergy reactions

How to Manage Allergic Reactions in Dogs

Tests and Avoidance

The best way to manage a dog allergic reaction is through proper identification of the cause and avoidance of that allergen as much as possible.

There are certain dog allergy tests what is possibly causing your dog's allergic reaction - skin test to be able to recognize what substances are allergens for their dog, a blood test to check if their dog's antibodies are triggered by allergens or a saliva test to determine if their dog is sensitive to or intolerant to. If you have already identified them, do your best to remove the allergen/s away from the dog’s environment. Depending on what your dog is allergic to, this may require some dedication and creativity. You can speak to your vet for potential solutions to allergens that you might encounter every day, like grass.

dog allergic reaction symptoms

Allergy-fighting Supplements

Treatments for allergic reactions in dogs vary depending on the causes and the symptoms. In the past few years, many allergy-targeted medications and supplements have hit the veterinary market with significant success. Providing allergy-fighting supplements have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help alleviate the symptoms of these allergic reactions in some pets, often in combination with medications.

For example, you may provide your furbaby with Pet Parents® Allergy SoftSupps®. Pet Parents® Allergy SoftSupps® contain colostrum for dogs that enhances the immune response and Bio-Mos®, a branded prebiotic-type, that helps promote the body’s natural resistance.

For skin allergies, you may also provide your furbaby with Pet Parents® Skin & Coat SoftSupps®. These skin & coat soft chews contain omega-3 fatty acids for dogs, DHA for dogs, fish oil for dogs, and salmon oil for dogs that that can help promote an overall healthy skin & coat. Note that these supplements are beneficial for allergy support, but are not medication. It is always recommended to speak to your vet before starting supplements, just in case they have any interactions with medications your pet may be on.

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It is unpleasant to see your dog going through a rough patch because of allergies, and giving them extra love, care and support can help them recover faster. Allergic reactions can be exhausting for both dog and pet parent!! By educating yourself on your dog's allergies, you are better equipped to prevent them or at least help ease some of the associated discomfort of dog allergies.

For example, if your dog is prone to allergies after spending time outside, you should wipe of their paws and coat with Pet WiPees™ Dog All Purpose + Allergy wipes. These bio-based wipes are safe for everyday use and contain topical antioxidants that help your dog's skin stay protected from environmental irritants and helps the skin repair itself on a topical level. Additionally, they contain antihistamines, soothing ingredients like cucumber extract, and gentle cleansers and moisturizers to help prevent dry and itchy skin. These pet wipes will not only help remove allergens, but can actually help prevent future irritation in your dog.

Dog allergic reactions can be scary for pet parents, but there are steps you can take to help prevent reactions and manage everyday allergies. Work with your veterinarian to determine which allergy testing might be beneficial and then form a treatment plan. Allergy supplements make excellent support for your furbaby, but make sure you have a plan in place for severe allergies to keep your dog healthy and comfortable.

skin dog allergic reaction to food

"Allergy-fighting supplements have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that alleviate the symptoms of these allergic reactions."