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Dog Allergies and Allergies to Dogs


Puppies itch and people sneeze when they suffer from dog allergies. Allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system. Antibodies are specialized cells of the immune system that protect the body from foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Specific white blood cells such as eosinophils also play a role in the development of allergies. But sometimes these protective cells mis-recognize harmless substances like saliva from bug bites, inhaled dust and pollen, proteins in the food, or even cleaning solutions. When the white blood cells think these substances are dangerous, they attack and inflammation and itchy skin results. The heightened response to these substances, called allergens, is what causes the allergy symptoms you or your puppy suffers. Learn how to recognize, diagnose and treat common puppy allergies in these articles.

Flea Allergies

Image © Amy Shojai
Flea allergy is the most common allergy that affects dogs. Sensitive dogs develop skin disease when they react to a protein in flea saliva, and it may only take one bite to provoke all-over itching. Signs are seasonal, which typically are the warm summer months of flea season but can be year around in some parts of the country. The most common sign is extreme itchiness on the rear half of the dog, particularly the area on the back immediately above the tail. Flea control is essential for dogs suffering from flea allergic dermatitis because it only takes a single flea bite to set your puppy into a scratching frenzy. There are many products available to safely eliminate fleas on your dog and his environment. Learn more about fleas in this article.

Atopy and Inhalant Allergies

Image © Amy Shojai, CABC
Atopy is the equivalent to human "hay fever." Dogs can react to the same types of things that cause owners to suffer sneeze attacks during the spring and fall months. About ten to fifteen percent of the dog population is allergic to something they breathe from the environment, making inhalant allergy, or atopy, the second most common allergy in dogs. But while a few dogs may also develop runny eyes and nose, the most common signs of canine hay fever are itchy skin. Atopy requires veterinary diagnosis, and can be a challenge to control since it’s nearly impossible to avoid the culprits—grass, for instance—in the puppy’s environment. Read more about atopy and how to diagnose and treat the condition in this article.

Puppy Food Allergies

Image © Amy Shojai, CABC
Food allergies are not nearly as common as flea allergy or inhalant allergy (atopy). Those dogs that are food allergic react to one or more ingredients in a diet. Usually the culprit is a protein that’s commonly found in the ingredients of commercial pet foods. It can be very difficult to diagnose a food allergy because so many different ingredients make up common pet foods, and even a small amount could prompt a reaction. Proteins are found not only in meats, but also in grain ingredients, milk, and eggs. Find out more about food allergies and how they are diagnosed and managed in this article.

Puppy Contact Allergy

Contact allergy in dogs tends to be pretty rare. That’s because of the protective nature of your puppy’s fur coat. When it does occur, you’ll see inflammation where the thinly furred areas like the tummy or the paws come in contact with the floor. Learn more about contact allergy and what to expect in this article.

Managing Allergies to Dogs

It’s a sad state of affairs when the puppy you’ve fallen in love with also makes you sneeze. Pollen, mold, fungi and even the house dust mite make people cough, wheeze and have difficulty breathing. Allergies to pets can be especially problematic to people with asthma, and can affect health all year long. It’s not the fur, though, that causes a reaction to your puppy. The pet’s skin produces secretions that can cause allergic reactions, along with shed skin and dried saliva. This combination is referred to as “dander” and can cause severe reactions in some people. Read this article to learn more about pet allergies and what you can do to reduce your sneeze threshold and still keep your puppy.
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