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Dog Allergies: Identifying Symptoms & Treating Allergic Reactions

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Many of our puppy parents select the doodle breed because of their own allergies to dog dander, but did you know that canine allergies are quite common as well?

Allergies is an exaggerated immune response to an irritant. And unfortunately, allergies in dogs have become increasingly common among all breeds. For most dogs, symptoms do not appear until after 6 months to 1 year of age. 

What are the symptoms of dog allergies?

By far the most frequent symptom is itchiness! This can be just general itchiness on the dog’s whole body, but more often, there are a few sensitive areas or ‘hot spots’ that seem exceptionally bothersome to the dog: paws, the base of the tail, groin, and face/ears are prime examples.

Though less common, allergic reactions can also include gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or vomiting and respiratory issues such as coughing and sneezing. Frequent ear infections or less common eye irritations/infections can also be a sign of allergies in your doodle.

What is my dog allergic to?

Dogs can have allergic reactions to many of the same irritants that cause human allergies as well. Environmental allergies include but are not limited to pollen, mold, and fungi. Dogs can also be allergic to various foods.

Food allergies (chicken, beef, soy, etc. are all common examples) can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, but they can also manifest as itchiness similar to environmental allergies. While food allergies can certainly be the culprit, we have found environmental allergies to be more common among our dogs.

Another way to determine if the allergen is diet related or environment related is paying attention to any patterns in the symptoms. For many dogs, environmental allergies are seasonal just like in people. If your dog has a flare up every spring or every fall, you can rest assured the issue is more than likely related to environmental factors. 

Finally, a particularly common culprit for dog allergies are insect bites, particularly fleas! While flea bites are irritating/itchy to all dogs, a dog with allergies can have an exaggerated response or strong reaction to even just one flea bite. Flea prevention is especially important for dogs with allergies.

Ask your groomer if they ever notice any signs of fleas on your pup — they are often the first to notice signs of fleas such as ‘flea dirt’ on your dood. There are a number of flea preventatives out there, talk to your vet about your options if your pup is showing signs. If your current flea prevention is not 100% effective, it can really exacerbate allergy symptoms in your dog as even just the occasional flea bite can really lead to a vicious cycle of itching and skin irritation in the sensitive dog.

So, now that you have determined your dog does have allergies, what should you do? 

If you have reason to suspect your dog’s diet is the culprit, talk to your vet about hypoallergenic foods / elimination diets to see If this improves his symptoms.

Unfortunately, if your dog is allergic to environmental factors, the issue can be more complex as removing all insects, grasses, trees, etc. from the environment is not an option for the average fun-loving doodle who likes to play outside!

While true elimination of allergens is not always possible, there are ways to help reduce your dogs’ symptoms.

1. During an acute flare up, you may opt to use an antihistamine. Since allergies work the same in humans and dogs, some over the counter human allergy medications are also safe/beneficial for canines as well. For example, if you know your dog is sensitive to springtime allergies and you’ve spent a long day outside playing, hiking, etc. then you may opt to give a dose of Benadryl upon returning home to prevent a significant flare up. Please discuss medication and dosage with your veterinarian, and be sure not to administer the gelcap version of Benadryl as it can contain xylitol, which is poisonous to dogs.

2. Frequent baths. During a spell of seasonal allergies, you may opt to give your dood more frequent baths with a hypoallergenic shampoo to help reduce the number of allergens trapped in his coat. The doodles’ curly coat is wonderful as far as reducing shedding, but it can easily trap allergens such as pollen.  There are a variety of hypoallergenic shampoos that sooth inflamed and irritated skin. 

3. Hotspot treatment and ear cleaning. Hot spots and ear infections are two of the more painful allergy symptoms for your dog. Once an itchy spot has been licked and chewed for a couple days, a sore can develop often referred to as a hotspot. There are a variety of creams and ointments that are designed for use on these sores to both promote soothing and healing as well as some have a bitter flavor to discourage additional licking and/or chewing at the site.

Ear infections are another common complication as the result of allergies. Doodles are particularly prone to them as they have hairy and long, floppy ears – both traits that are known to cause frequent ear infections in different dog breeds. The shape of the ear and fur in the ear can trap allergens and bacteria. If you noticed your dog itching his/her ears and/or shaking his head frequently this can be a sign of an ear infection.

Additional symptoms include ears looking red and/or having an unpleasant odor. Your vet should be contacted to help clear up any existing infection. But prevention during allergy seasons are a key factor to keeping your doodle healthy. We recommend frequent ear cleanings with an approved canine ear cleaner and plucking of the hair in your doodles’ ears to help reduce the trapping of allergens and bacteria. 

In conclusion, the fight against allergy symptoms appears to be one that humans and dogs are in together!

Jenna and the JLDD Team

Concerned That Your Allergies May React to One of Our Pups?

If you are concerned about allergies, we can help you find the right Goldendoodle for you. For a fee of $25, we'll send you a t-shirt worn by one of their parent doodles. This will allow you to test whether you have a reaction to its scent, dander, fur, and saliva.  If you don’t have a reaction, the chance of reacting to a pup from the dog’s litter is low. And if you do have a reaction, we can find you a doodle puppy for sale from another litter.

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