Allergies In Dogs

Did you know that up to 83% of dogs who frequently lick their front feet have some form of allergies? In fact, allergic skin disease in dogs is becoming more and more prevalent. There are hundreds of known allergens that dogs can be sensitive to. From trees, grasses, pollen, mold, dust mites, to even the saliva of insects; any one of these can trigger an allergic response. In the following article, I will discuss allergies in dogs along with the symptoms and available treatment options.

Signs Of Allergies In Dogs

Signs of allergies in dogs include excessively licking, chewing, and scratching. In addition, recurrent ear infections are often a sign of an underlying allergy. Recurrent skin infections may indicate an allergic underlying cause and this may be characterized by redness, swelling, and small red bumps noticed on the skin. Often times, these red bumps may be hidden by the secondary injury caused by your pet constantly licking and scratching at these areas.

Which Breeds Of Dogs Get Allergies?

Actually, any breed of dog can develop allergies and there may be a genetic link to passing on the genes that make a dog susceptible to allergies. Typically, dogs will develop signs of allergies under the age of 3 and their symptoms may be seasonal or all year round depending on what they are allergic to.

Testing For Allergies?

Testing for skin allergies in dogs is very similar to testing in people. After clipping the fur and giving a small sedative (to decrease stress for your dog), small injections of allergens are placed under the skin and evaluated for a reaction. These sites are scored based on the severity of the reaction. There are numerous allergens that dogs can be allergic to and intradermal testing can help identify the causes of the inciting allergy.

Veterinarian For Treating Dog Allergies

Fortunately, medical breakthroughs have created several successful treatment options for dogs with underlying allergic skin disease. In particular, 3 schools of treatment exist at this time.

  1. Allergen Specific Injections – Similar to the human field and after intradermal skin testing, specific injections can be custom made to help desensitize your dog to the things they are allergic to. Please note, while these injections represent the only known cure for allergies, they do work slowly over longer periods of time and are not always effective.
  2. IL-31 Injections – These injections are given under the skin to treat the symptoms of allergic skin disease, mainly the itching which is associated with it. Interleukins (IL) are classes of proteins made by the body’s white blood cells, which help regulate immune responses. With IL-31 injections specifically, the cells which cause itchiness are targeted. IL injections tend to last for 4-8 weeks at a time when successful.
  3. Oral Medications – There are several classes of oral medications to help treat the symptoms of allergic skin disease as well as secondary infections of bacteria or yeast. It is most helpful to discuss with your Veterinarian which classes of medications are appropriate for your pet.


Itchiness caused by allergic skin disease is one of the most common presenting symptoms in veterinary medicine. Fortunately, there are treatment and testing options available for your pet. For more information and to discuss the specific nature of your pet’s allergies, I recommend making an appointment at one of our Veterinary Hospitals. After taking a thorough history and performing a comprehensive physical examination, your veterinarian will discuss all the available options and help decide on a treatment plan that is right for you and your pet. With a little bit of love and sound medical knowledge, we’ll help you get your dog’s tail wagging again and not scratching, biting, or chewing from allergic skin disease.


Jeffrey Stupine VMD

Medical Director

World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals