5 Signs Your Dog Has Allergies, According To Experts

by Steph Montgomery

Spring is finally here, which is awesome for just about everyone except people, like me, who suffer from allergies. If you have a dog, you might notice that they seem to be suffering, too. No, it’s not just your imagination or your dog dealing with a case of sympathy sniffles. It turns out our furry BFFs get allergies, too. Luckily, there are allergy medications and other treatments for our canine comrades, so if recognize the signs your dog has allergies know there are some positive steps you can take to help fido get sniffle-free.

According to veterinarian Ernest Ward, doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM), dogs can be allergic to just about anything, including pollen, insect bites, and foods. He explains that allergies are basically when your dog's immune system overreacts to a substance, causing a variety of symptoms. Sometimes these signs are similar to those in people with allergies — like sneezing, watery eyes, and wheezing. But, as veterinarian Dr. Robert Silver, DVM, writes for, often, dog allergies will instead manifest as a itchy skin rash. According to the Clinical Nutrition Service at Tuft's University's Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, many dog owners fear their dog has food allergies and will put them on special diets or foods as a result. But food allergies in dogs are actually pretty rare. More common, however, are allergies in dogs, and to things like pollen, dust mites, and fleas.

If you are worried your dog might have allergies, or want to know the signs just in case, read on:

They Have A Rash Or Itchy Skin

As Silver writes for, the most common sign your dog has allergies is excessive itching. While anyone with a dog knows that some scratching is normal, if they do it all of the time, or their skin has a rash, israw, or sore, they just might have allergies. According to Silver, pruritus — or the clinical name for itchy skin — is the second most common reason people take their dog to the vet. It can be a sign your dog is allergic to pollen, dust, or even the foods they eat.

They Have A Runny Nose Or Sneeze

As Ward explains on, sometimes your dog's allergy symptoms will look pretty similar to yours. So, if your dog has a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezes, or coughs, they might have allergic rhinitis, or a condition caused by allergies to pollen, dust mites, or other substances in the air.

The good news is that treatments are available for dogs with allergies. According to Ward, you can help ease your pet's discomfort by shampooing them when they come in from outside to remove pollen, and asking their veterinarian about medication to treat their allergy symptoms. There are even canine allergy shots — injections of allergens given over time to prevent reactions.

They Snore

According to, if your dog snores it might be a sign that they have allergies that require medical treatment. While it may seem silly to take your dog to the vet for snoring, it can be a sign they have breathing issues, which may interfere with their sleep. They suggest allergy testing to determine the cause, and helping your pet avoid their allergy triggers by walking them when pollen counts are low or cleaning their bed regularly.

They Have Bald Spots Or Lose Their Hair

If your dog is scratching so hard they are losing their hair, they might actually be allergic to fleas. As Ward explains, while all dogs itch when they have fleas, allergic dogs' immune systems overreact to bites, causing an itchy, uncomfortable skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis. According to the same site, many dogs have flea allergies, and can react from just one bite, so you might not even know they had fleas or suspect them as a cause.

Ward notes that you can look for a "tell-tale" pattern of hair loss from your dog's back to the base of their tail or back legs, caused by all that scratching. The good news is that flea allergies can be treated by your veterinarian and prevented by regular flea treatments.

They Get Better After Starting A Food Elimination Trial

According to the Clinical Nutrition Services team at Tufts University's Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, many pet owners fear that their dog might have food allergies, and pet food companies have responded by creating so-called "hypoallergenic" dog food. However, the same site notes that food allergies are actually pretty rare in dogs. If they have allergy symptoms — like a rash — something else is likely to blame. So, before buying expensive dog food or trying to diagnose your pet at home, they recommend working with your veterinarian to conduct a food elimination trial — or feeding your dog a very limited diet — to see if their symptoms improve.

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