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Alta Vista Veterinary Clinic

3 Signs Your Dog Has Allergies and What You Should Do About It

Dog vigorously scratching itself
Dogs are prone to allergies from food, parasites, pollen, and other triggers. Sometimes, pet owners miss the symptoms of allergies or mistake them for other problems. Here's how to spot pet allergies and what to do if you suspect your dog is suffering.
1. Constant Scratching
If your dog is constantly biting, chewing, and scratching its fur and skin, this is a big red flag that an allergy could be causing your pet extreme itchiness. One of the main causes of constant scratching is an allergy to fleas. When fleas bite your dog, the autoimmune response in the dog's system causes hives, swelling, and redness of the skin on the belly and undercoat.
Environmental toxins such as pollen, fibers from insulation, dust, and mites are also causes of intense scratching and chewing of the skin and feet. Often, these allergic responses only happen at certain times of the year, so they're considered seasonal allergies. If you fail to rinse of all dog shampoo from your dog's coat, or your dog explores in areas where there are environmental triggers, these contact allergies may happen at any time of year.
Dogs will also persistently chew and scratch themselves when they suffer from dietary allergies. Foods that commonly cause allergies in dogs include:
  • Grains including corn, wheat, and rice
  • Potatoes, yams, and carrots
  • Peas, soybeans, lentils, and peanuts
  • GMO vegetables, fruits, and oils
  • Dairy products including cheese
Some dogs are allergic to meat including poultry, fish, beef, and eggs. If your dog is allergic to any of the listed foods, these ingredients should be eliminated from the diet to give your dog relief from the constant itching.
2. Stinky Smell
If your dog always smells funky no matter what you do, check your dog's ears. Ear mites and other parasites can cause infections in the ears, leading to a rancid or sharp smell. Allergies can also be the cause of constantly inflamed ears.
While yeast infections and exposure to water while swimming can cause issues in the ear, these problems generally clear up after proper treatment. Suspect allergies if you treat your dog's ear mites and infections, but the ear odors and infections persist. Ask your veterinarian to test your dog for allergies when ear smell and oozing keep occurring in your dog.
Stinky odors may also be caused by secondary bacterial infections of the skin. If your dog's constant itching and biting leave lesions and sores on your dog, these spots may become infected with smelly microbes, including mange. Your veterinarian can treat the mange and offer you allergy testing to see if allergies are causing your dog to constantly attack its own skin.
3. Red Patches Around Paws and Mouth
Does your dog continually bite its toes and have a discolored, rust-tinged mouth and feet? This may be another sign of inflammation caused by yeast, which can be exacerbated by allergies. 
Other problems can cause yeast infections or red staining of dog's feet. These include:
  • Salt and chemicals used for de-icing
  • Hot pavement
  • Briars and thorns
  • Pond and puddle-water contaminants
Dogs often walk over gravel or other rough materials, which can also cause red, inflamed paws. Order an allergy test at your veterinarian's office to rule out other sources of infection and redness in those areas. 
Allergy Testing for Dogs
Allergy testing should be done by a qualified veterinarian. Tests advertised as DIY or home-based should not be used, as they may not provide accurate results that help your pet. 
Your veterinarian can perform two types of tests in the office. The first test is a blood test. The vet draws a small amount of your pet's blood and checks for antigen-induced antibodies. The vet may use a radioallergosorbent test (RAST) or the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test to check for allergies in blood.
Skin-based testing is also called intradermal skin testing. Your dog is shaved and small amounts of antigens are injected just under the skin. An ordered pattern of antigens is injected and noted to easily identify which antigens cause a reaction.
Contact Alta Vista Veterinary Clinic today to schedule allergy testing for your dog. Effective, safe treatments are available at our office for your dog's specific pet allergy.