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Flea Allergy In Dogs & The 3 Other Most Common Dog Allergies
Flea Allergy In Dogs & The 3 Other Most Common Dog Allergies

Dog Allergies

Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes


Can dogs have allergies? The answer is yes! Just like us humans, our precious pooches can be allergic to foods and things in their environment. Doggy allergies also present themselves in symptoms very similar to humans! So, what are the most common dog allergies our pups can have?

Dog Allergies: Flea Allergy In Dogs

Flea saliva is by far the most common insect allergen for pooches and causes Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). It may simply take one bite to provoke a reaction in your pooch’s skin too! The most likely symptom they’ll display in a case of a flea allergy is aggressive and excessive itching of their rear half, using either their mouth or back legs to scratch.

Flea control is essential for all dogs, but especially those who experience FAD. Regular flea and worm prevention control protects both your dog and others they come into contact with from contracting these pesky parasites.

Dogs can also pass them on to humans, children and deposit their eggs around your house… Trust us, prevention is SO much easier than trying to remove these tiny bugs once they’ve established themselves in your home. So, if they’re not already receiving regular anti-parasitic treatments, it’s time to check in with your vet to get your beloved pet into the most suitable flea and parasite prevention routine.

Petlab Co. Pro Tip: Did you know that 95% of a flea’s life cycle takes place away from your dog’s body (so, in your furniture upholstery and carpets)? Read our blog on How To Banish, Manage And Prevent A Flea Infestation In Your Home here.

Dog Allergies: Inhalant Allergy (Atopy)

doodle at sunset

Also referred to as atopy, this is essentially doggy hay fever and is the second most common allergy in dogs! About 10-15% of dogs are allergic to things they inhale in their environment. Again, the most common symptom of an inhalant allergy is itchy skin which may be inflamed, but your dog may also display signs via paw licking, sneezing, developing a rash, having watery eyes and/or a runny nose.

You’ll need to bathe your dog with soothing or medicated shampoo, and in addition, wash their bedding, and vacuum your carpets and rugs, if you suspect an inhalant allergy. This will help rid the allergen from their fur and your home’s fibres. If you’re really concerned about your dog’s allergic reactions, particularly if they’re very severe, book them in to see their vet for an allergy test to determine the exact cause and make a plan of action.

Dog Allergies: Food Allergy

Food allergies are less common than inhalant or flea saliva allergies. But, the most common food allergens for dogs are beef, dairy, chicken, and wheat but can also be triggered by other grain ingredients, milk and eggs. The usual signs of food allergy are typically itchy skin, and stomach upsets like diarrhoea and vomiting. However, if you suspect a food allergy you may also notice weight loss, lethargy or hyperactivity and in some cases aggressive behaviour.

If you own a Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Retriever, or a German Shepherd, these dog types are thought to be at a higher risk of developing food allergies and intolerances, so it’s good to be mindful of this as a pet parent to these breeds. It can be quite tricky to diagnose a food allergy because there are many different ingredients in your pup’s diet that are all essential, and even a small amount of an allergen could cause a reaction. Always consult their veterinarian for assistance and diagnosis.

To help manage food allergies, your pup may need to be fed a high-quality hypoallergenic diet (containing pre-broken down protein molecules), or one with an alternative protein source (such as venison or salmon), to prevent the allergic reaction being triggered. As a pet parent, you should avoid their known allergens always, and be mindful that your dog can develop new allergies throughout their life so keep an eye out on their skin and pooping habits!

Dog Allergies: Contact Dermatitis

doodle puppy on bed

This is a contact allergy, where your dog’s body exhibits an inflammation response when their body has topical contact with an allergen. Rarer than the other allergies above due to the protective nature of their fur coat, but in a case of contact dermatitis you may see sore, red skin that also may be itchy appear on their tummy, armpits, ears and paws as this is where there is less fur. However, a contact allergy can also affect in some cases the butt, back, sides of their body, and face.

A contact allergy could be something like a strong, new and unfamiliar washing detergent or a new shampoo. Aid their recovery by bathing them with a specific, anti-itch shampoo that you know they don’t react to. If you suspect it’s a new washing detergent, rewash their bedding/toys at a minimum of 130°F with a gentle, fragrance-free detergent you know they’re not allergic to. Make sure the bedding is totally dry before allowing your dog to use it again.

Petlab Co. Pro Tip: A dog’s bedding should ideally be washed once a week and more frequently if obviously dirty. For soft toys, a once a month wash should be the minimum.

If your dog is regularly reacting or experiencing very itchy skin, or other allergy symptoms, always consult your vet. They may offer you canine antihistamines, special shampoos, specialised drugs, and/or suggest further natural remedies for any of the above allergies or they may want to assess the issue in more depth.


“If your dog is diagnosed with an allergy, it is important to remember that there is no cure and so these dogs will usually need long-term management - an important job for every owner! This may entail avoiding the trigger (e.g. pollens, proteins, parasites), alongside medical management and nutritional modifications.

For example, avoiding an allergen is usually the most effective treatment for dogs with flea allergic dermatitis, food hypersensitivities and contact allergies. Whereas regular skin washing, improved air conditioning and air filtration indoors are effective ways to reduce the allergen burden in your home to control the clinical signs associated with atopic dermatitis. The prognosis tends to be better when the offending allergens are identified and controlled in your dog’s environment, however, medical and nutritional management may also need to be incorporated to make your dog more comfortable until this is achieved."

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