5 Common Allergens That Affect Dogs

Explore a list of common allergens that affect dogs, from pollen to certain foods. Learning how to identify and manage these allergies promotes your dog’s well-being.

Jun 4, 2024By Nikita Hillier
common allergens that affect dogs

Just like their human counterparts, dogs can be allergic to certain foods, dyes, and insects. Some of these items can be found in a dog’s environment, while others can be found in popular pet food brands.

Understanding common allergens that affect dogs can help you coordinate your pet’s meals and help them avoid the discomfort that comes from swelling, itching, and other reactions. For more information about what allergens may affect your dog, consult your veterinarian.

1. Chicken Meat

dog licking paw from allergies
Image Credit: The Spruce Pets

Believe it or not, chicken is a common allergen for dogs. Dogs may come into contact with chicken meat in the form of commercial dog food, treats, and even table scraps. While many dogs can enjoy white meat as a protein-filled treat, some dogs have negative reactions.

The symptoms of a chicken allergy in dogs can include:

  • Itching
  • Scratching
  • Redness around the feet or eyes
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and loose stool

Chicken is a common ingredient in even some of the most reputable dog food brands. So, be sure to read the ingredients if you’re concerned about your dog having a chicken allergy. You can also ask your vet questions about selecting the best diet for your dog. There are plenty of protein sources for dogs with chicken allergies. Some alternatives include beef, lamb, and fish.

2. Fleas

dog itching because of fleas
Image Credit: Daily Paws

Ahh, the pesky fleas! Every dog and dog owner's worst nightmare. Fleas are a very common allergen for dogs, particularly when they develop something known as flea allergy dermatitis, also known as FAD. Dogs can encounter fleas through outdoor exposure or direct contact with infested animals.

Symptoms of flea allergies in dogs can include very intense itching, redness, skin inflammation, hair loss, and hot spots. These can occur anywhere, but usually, they will present around the base of the tail, along the back, and on the belly of your dog.

Prevention is definitely the key when it comes to managing flea allergies. Thankfully, there are both vaccines and over-the-counter medications that can keep these bloodsucking insects away from your dog.

3. Shampoos and Grooming Products

itchy dog having allergic reaction
Image Credit: The Native Pet

Certain shampoos and grooming products can contain ingredients that trigger allergic reactions in dogs. These ingredients can include preservatives, fragrances, and other harsh chemicals.

Dogs may come into contact with these allergens during bath time or after a visit with the groomers. Remember: human shampoo and grooming products should NEVER be used on dogs as it is a common cause of allergies in dogs.

Symptoms of shampoo allergies in dogs can present as various common skin conditions, including itching, redness, dry skin, and flakiness. Usually, these symptoms will present in areas where the product was directly applied.

To minimize the risk of allergic reactions, choose hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, or natural grooming products that have been specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive skin.

4. Pollen

dog getting eyes rinsed allergic reaction
Image Credit: Veterycin

Pollen is a fine, powdery substance emitted by trees, grasses, and weeds during certain parts of the year. Dogs can come into contact with pollen when they are participating in outdoor activities, such as walks with their human or playing in the yard.

Symptoms of pollen allergies in dogs include skin irritation, mucus discharge from the nose and mouth, and watery eyes. Usually, the irritation will occur around the face, ears, and paws. To minimize exposure to pollen allergens, consider limiting outdoor activities during peak pollen seasons. You can also wipe your dog's paws and fur after outdoor outings to keep your home free of outdoor allergens.

If your dog experiences persistent allergy symptoms, consult your vet for further evaluation and treatment options. During this discussion, you can learn about keeping your dog happy and healthy when pollen increases outdoors. After all, you can’t lock them away inside forever!

5. Insect Bites and Stings

bee flying near dogs nose
Image Credit: PDSA

Insect bites and stings from mosquitoes, bees, wasps, and ants can trigger severe allergic reactions in dogs. Dogs may come into contact with these insect allergens during outdoor activities or when they are exploring in nature. Symptoms of insect bite and sting allergies in dogs can include redness, swelling, itching, pain, hives, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a form of shock.

To reduce the risk of insect bites and stings, avoid areas with high insect activity. For instance, if your dog is allergic to black flies, steer clear of lakes, ponds, and streams. You can also use insect repellent specifically formulated for dogs and inspect their coat for signs of bites or stings after every outdoor outing.

If your dog has trouble breathing after being stung or bitten by an insect, this is a life-threatening emergency that calls for immediate medical attention. Do not wait for the problem to go away on its own; doing so could risk your dog’s life!

How Do I Know if My Dog Has Allergies?

boxer dog experiencing allergic reaction
Image Credit: Ocean Property

Your dog can’t vocalize when it’s allergic to something in their food or environment. So, as a responsible dog owner, it’s your job to know when your dog has symptoms of allergies. You should always monitor changes in your dog’s health after changing their food, boarding them overnight at a kennel, or even going on a walk.

As noted, you should consult your veterinarian if you suspect allergies are affecting your dog. They may run a series of panels to identify what allergies your dog has or suggest changing something in your dog’s environment.

The good news is that most dogs can overcome their allergies by simply avoiding certain triggers. If a trigger is unavoidable, however, your veterinarian may prescribe some medications or suggest simple lifestyle changes.

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!