Dog Allergies - types of allergies in dogs, how the dog's immune system reacts and treatments

What are the dog allergies and the causes? How can dogs 'contracted' allergies as human do? How do you know if your dog has allergy? Good questions!!

But first allow me to answer the common questions which most dog owners are keen to know, which are - what signs or dog allergy symptoms tell you that your dog has allergies? Can the allergy be inherited?

Symptoms of allergies in dogs - There are few types of allergies in dogs, the most common symptoms of allergies are red skin, itchy, rashes on skin, licking paws. There are other symptoms too like vomitting, diarrhea and red eyes. If the allergy on skin not treated early it can be serious problem and lead to raw skin which is prone to bacterial infection.

In simple and brief, allergic can happen in the dog's skin which causes itchiness and inflamation or hives ( more details about hives and others later ). Here are the dog allergies signs you should take note, if your dog sneezing or caughing or difficult in breathing then it is on the lining of airway, if it is in disgestive system it can cause pain, vomitting or diarrhoea, or even saliva released from fleas, dust mites, certain food, plant pollens like cedar, oak and ash, grass pollens, weed pollens like ragweed, fungal, drugs, pesticides, air freshener, polluted air, and human dander will also trigger the allergic reaction in dog! Some infectious agents like germ or microbe can cause illness if invades the mucous membranes that line the eyes and nose. If the dog allergies are severe, it can cause red eyes, runny nose, runny eyes and wheezing. Some agents or organisms are dangerous to puppy and some are to adult dog. If the puppy is fed with mother's first milk, the antibody in the milk colostrum, will be passed down to the puppy and provide some lever of protection against dog allergies and other sickness. That's why it is important that puppies need to have the first suck of their mothers' milk straight away.

Please note if the mother dog has any kind of sickness, do consult your vet first if it is advisible to feed your puppy with the mother's natural milk.

Ok, let's go into details one by one about dog allergies..... You see, all these got to do with the dog's immune system and the culprit which causes allergies is Allergen. Just like human, some dog organs and human organs are somehow similar in terms of their functioning.

So how does dog's immune system got to do with Dog Allergies?

Well, dogs do have immune system responses to in two categories, allergies and the autoimmune disorders. For those who study biology like I did may know what I am talking about, for those who don't, you need not have to worry I will explain it in a simple way. Ok take a ride with me!


Dog Allergies - As I explain in my site about how human system reacts to allergy (click!) , dogs do have their immune system to response to substances in their bodies too. The immune system responses to foreign agents and stimulates the system and produces protective antibodies. In allergies, the immune system over reacts and produces inappropriate response to non-infectious substance. When the dog immune system reacts to foreign subtance or allergen like pollen either into contact or inhaled, it produces antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE binds to receptor immune system cells called mast cells in the skin, lung, airway and lining of stomach. When the dog next in contact with allergen again, the substance then binds to IgE. When this happens it releases inflammatory substances called histamine and prostaglandin which triggers discomfort like irritation, itchiness or even inflammation in the dog's skin.

Other dog allergies are - inhalant dermatitis, contact dermatitis, hives, hay fever, bronchitis, pneumonitis and gastrointestinal. ( what are all these dog allergies? click here to find out )

Vet Diagnosis and Treatment on Dog Allergies - Usually vet would avoid treatment but finding the cause of the allergy by monitoring the history of blood test sample, special diets, or temporary remove the dog from it's usual environment. Having saying that, for 'immediate relief' of allergy, vet usually use drug called antihistamines to control histamine.

In some cases, vet may recommends fatty acid (EFA) supplements which will affect prostaglandin and control it.

Some vets may use methylsulfonyl methane (MSM) to treat skin allergies. It is an organic sulfur supplement. It softens the cells and flushes out the toxins such as allergens.

Remedies & Tips -

1) Use laundry detergent free of perfumes and avoid using softner and bleach to wash your dog stuffs.

2) Try to give your dog home-cooked food which is free from chemical ingredients like preservative and artificial coloring.

3) Choose mild shampoo contains tea tree oil, oatmeal or aloe. Usually your vet may recommends you shampoo that suits your dog.

4) Most dogs has skin allergies problems are allergic to beef and dairy products, so try other types of meats or fish which has Omega-3 fatty acid (EFA) like salmon, mackerel and tuna.

5) Try to give your dog Vitamin C as it has antihistamine ingredient and also an antioxidant. Check with your vet the dosage of intake. In general, about 100mg for small dogs, daily or at least 4 times a week, 150mg for medium size of dogs and about 300mg for giant dogs. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant to boost the immune system.

6) It is important to shampoo your dog to relieve skin allergy. Some dogs with rough coat especially have more pollen so frequent wash can remove them. Dogs with oily skin and too dried skin are prone to skin allergies. After shampoo your dogs make sure you dry them and comb them properly.

Do not delay the treatment, bring your dog to the vet ASAP at the begining stage, delaying treatment will cause your dog's immune system to weaken as it has to over-react to potential allergens. Important note: do bring your dog for yearly vaccination.

Autoimmune Disorders & Immune-Mediated

Autoimmune Disorders - This is slightly different from Allergies as it is unable to recognize the "it-self" and "non-it-self" substance and causes auto-antibody to act against the body own tissues, the body immune system reacts 'wrongly' on the body ( it-self ) rather than invader, it will damage and destroy essential tissues like red blood cells, thyroid gland cells and skin cells, resulting in automimmune disease.

Some of other immune disorders called immune mediated are due to the development of antibody-antigen complexes such as haemolytic anaemia (IMHA), thrombocytopenia (IMT), neutropenia, arthritis, meningitis, nasal solar dermatitis and skin diseases. ( for more details click here )

Autoimmune disorders can be triggered by drugs, tumours, bacteria, virus and possible vaccines. So do pay attention to your dog after taking any medication or injection, check his skin, paws, face and ears if there is any 'dog allergies sysmptoms'.

Vet Diagnosis and Treatment on -

immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA) - the red blood cells are destroyed, using drugs such as corticosteroid or immunosuppressant is necessary, some dogs may develop a chronic form of the disease and need long term treatment with immunosuppressants drug, the last thing a vet would do is blood transfusion which may worsen the condition as the overactive immune system will attack the new red blood cells

immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (IMT) - in order not to mistaken IMT from IMHA as both of these have the same bleeding symptoms, vet usually would test and study the blood platelet count, (platelets play important role in blood clotting, lack of platelets will cause unexpected bleeding and bruising) corticosteroid drug is used, if not the combination of more powerful immunosuppressant drug and transfusion of blood and platelets are applied

autoimmune neutropenia - sulphas and anti-seizure medications are used to trigger the immune system

immune-mediated arthritis - corticosteroid and other immunosuppressant drugs are used

nasal solar dermatitis - vet will either use topical corticosteroid drug or sunscreen

autoimmune skin disease - need treatment with immunosuppressant drugs

Stress can affect dog's immune system

Do bear in mind, there is another factor causes your dog to have automimmune diseases such as hemlytic anemia, lupus, arthritis and skin diseases, which is ---- stress! Because it can weaken your dog immune system, when this happens it will lead to dog allergies.

In general, dogs are royal and very emotional sensitive pets, when their owners are sick, stress or in 'low mood', it will upset and affect their dogs and they get stress too. When this happens it can affect the dogs' immune system. The thymus gland which produces the immune system's white blood cells will 'shrink' and will not produce enough of white blood cells to defense and that will lead the dogs prone to illness. When your dog has a sudden stress like running or chasing something, thunder storm fright, dog fight or stress due to sudden separation, his heart has to work harder and needs to 'borrow' resources from other parts of his body like blood from his stomach or the thymus gland. Other parts of his body which are not used for running such as the digestive system and the immune system will be 'put on hold'. Hence, your dog immune system will be weaken and easily prone to sickness, and allergies attacks is one of them. So, try to minimize your dog stress and calm him down.

Symptoms & Remedies for dog with weaken immune system

A dog's body immune system will be weaken whenever there is invader such as allergen, bacteria, toxin, possible vaccination, virus and those I have mentioned above. And the signs of dog with weaken immune system will be the dog allergies symptoms as I have mentioned above such as skin infection, diarrhea, fatigue, arthritis, slow-healing wounds and more.

Remedies & Tips -

1) To calm your dog from stress or hyperactivity stress, you may want to give him Vitamin B-complex. ( please check with your vet the appropriate amount of dosage for your dog ) Vitamin B-complex can aid the funtioning of cells and production of antibodies.

2) Natural remedies do help. Take garlic for example, it can strengthen the immune system and has antibiotics, anti parasitic and viral properties. Garlic was also used on wounds to prevent infection during World War I, it is said to be able to inactive cancer causing substances and destroy parasites too! About half of clove of garlic for your dog of small to medium size perday. Do not over feed your dog with garlic as it will upset his stomach and has potential of 'thining' your dog's blood. Therefore do not give garlic to your dog few days before surgery.

3) Vitamin E is also an antioxidant, it enhances the T-cell and helps to boost the body immune system. It protects and supports the immune system. The T-cells is the next line of defense for white blood. If the T-cells 'need more help' to defense then there's where the most powerful next line of defense called B-cells. B-cells are white blood that produces proteins called antibodies.

So, as you understand now that once your dog's body immune system is weak, he will be proned to many sickness, and dog allergies are part of the sickness. So, proper balance of diet for your dog and let your dog lives a healthy and stress-free life is very important. Infact, that goes to human too! HAHA!

Can Dog Allergies be inherited?

Unfortunately yes, most of the dog allergies are inherited. In some breeds they are categorized under atopy. The tendency of passing down the allergic to the next generation is as high as 50% and the affected dog is called atopic.

Which are the dog breeds that prone to skin Allergies and Why?

Dog breeds that are skin allergy prone are mostly Bull Terrier, White Terrier, Golden Retriever, Japanese Akita, Shar Pei, West Highland, English Setter, Beagle, Lhasa Asho, Snauzers, Pug, Dalmation, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever. They have high excessive immunoglobulin E (IgE). As for West Highland and Golden Retriever they are more prone to gastrointestinal allergies.

Some questions dog owners always ask about their dogs' problems and advises that may help

Q - 1 : Weird lumpy spots on my dog..? Yesterday my dog started getting these weird random lumps on her.. a few days ago it was just on her head and then it went away but now its all over.. we haven't taken her to a vet yet. The lumps are more along the sides of her body and they're different sizes, the biggest one is a little smaller than a nickel.. she doesn't seem agitated by it though so i'm guessing it doesn't hurt or itch..? please help!

A : A few possiblities.... Mostly is dog allergy because it spreads very fast within a few days....if so then the lumps will go away and it's painless. To play safe do check if the lumps pop up from the skin surface very much and are they hard?

Then again whatever it maybe it's better to bring your dog to the vet to confirm and the vet will dispense the neccessary medicine or cream. (not every part of the dog's body is advisible to use cream because fearing the dog may licks)

If the lumps stay longer like more than a week than it could be skin diseases or temporary skin disorder. Do monitor if the lumps color change to darker. If it is skin diseases then you will see the hair on the lumps starting to drop, but I doubt so because you never mention about the hair dropping. If you notice the lumps stay longer or become permenant and your dog is older, then my advise is ......go to the vet to confirm that if it is skin cancer.

Q - 2 : - I have hairless puppy, at what age can i start putting lotion on a 14 ounce hairless puppy of 8 weeks old now, and i heard Vaseline is good to use on her skin, is that right or should i use something else?

A : First of all, please do not apply anything unecessary unless under vet's advise because any substance comes in contact on your dog's skin may causes dog allergies. Allergic may happens even if your dog is healthy, that's because it's got to do with the dog's body immune system. If you must apply something, consult your vet if the cream or lotion suitable for your dog.

Q - 3 : - How do a dog's lips get dermatitis?

A : Well, it could be the allergic dermatitis caused by bacterial infection or fungi, or it could be other types of dog allergies cause your dog's lips inflammation such as chewing rough things, or your dog comes in contact with chemical which may not be harmful but allergic to the lips, it's probably immune-mediated. Most hound dogs are prone to this problem. If your dog's lips are swell, the food or debris tend to trap in the fold and cause foul odour. Make sure you clean your dog's mouth well.

Please note : sometimes if a dog's mouth has odour, the problem or cause may not comes from the mouth but it could be from the stomach or kidney problem, so it's best to bring your dog to the vet.

Q - 4 : I woke up this morning and found where my female chihuahua has swelling on her neck and along her right side of her jaw. What's wrong with her and what can I do to bring down the swelling?

A : A sudden swelling can be anything and can be life threatening. Mostly could be biten by insect ( hives ), or consumed chemical solution by accident or dog allergy to something. Does your dog vomit or poo with blood?

Without delay please bring your dog to the vet. For more symptoms like this and the related or possible causes, please refer to types of allergies and symptoms for more details.


details of signs and symptoms of each types of dog allergies, autoimmune disorders and immune-mediated

what is Hypoallergenic dogs? which type of dog breeds are less in triggering human discomfort or allergy reaction? find out why human is allergic to dog?

questions and answers about dogs


**Please note that you are not advised to diagnose your dog by yourself in any case not just about dog allergies as we are talking about, it applies to any issues about dog health and treatment on my site, it's always best to send your beloved dog to the vet unless you are well trained in this field as your dog's sickness could be the cause of other factors which you may not know. The information here is for your knowledge only, and I always stress that anything got to do with dog's illness treatment my advise is bring your dog to the vet, the vet knows the best. Furthermore the drugs or medicine used on human some maybe the same but not the same dosage used on dogs and the amount of drugs used on different dogs are not the same as the size and weight of each dog determine the diferrent amount of intake of the drugs. If you intend to try any recommended remedies, it is ok to check with your vet if they applicable to your dog.

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