What to Do If Your Dog Has Allergies

Updated on July 12, 2019
MandyCrow profile image

My Maltese, Mac, has allergies. Here's what I learned from helping to control his symptoms.

What to Do When Your Dog Has Allergies

I have an almost five-year-old Maltese that I adopted from an animal rescue nearly three years ago. He is energetic, funny, and a source of great joy.

The only downside is that he's also allergic to everything—grass and pollen, and possibly even chicken. From skin sores, itchy skin, and hair loss, to constant chewing and digestive issues, Mac and I have walked together through a long journey of discovering what works best to ease his allergy problems. Here's what we've learned.

1. Consult With a Veterinarian

It's easy to get on the internet and find a myriad of articles full of advice about how to deal with your dog's allergies, even this one. But here's the deal: The first step should always be consulting your veterinarian. No matter how much knowledge or experience you have with dogs, vets have more training than you. What you think is an allergic reaction may be just that, but it could also be something else. That's why it's best to start the journey with your vet. Explain the symptoms your dog is experiencing and allow the vet to run needed tests and be prepared to follow his or her instructions.

Also, know that sometimes determining what is causing your dog's allergy issues can take time. It may involve several rounds of testing and/or changing his or her diet and seeing what, if any, foods may also contribute.

2. Consider Changing Your Dog's Food

Apparently many dogs have food allergies. After adopting my Maltese, I discovered that his breed is more susceptible to them. Upon adopting him, I began feeding him a high-quality, limited ingredient dog food. Eventually, though, after visiting family in another state, he got a taste for a different kind of food and wouldn't eat his limited ingredient food any longer. Thinking it wasn't that big of a deal, I fed him the other food and thought all would be well. It wasn't.

He started to develop some digestive issues. Seemingly everything made him sick. Several things contributed to this—including bacterial overgrowth in his intestines—but food sensitivities also played a role. It took a while, but Mac is now back on a limited ingredient diet and doing well.

All that to say, an important step in helping a dog with food sensitivities or allergies is to take control of his or her diet. Limited ingredient foods are a good way to do that, especially if the problem isn't just grain sensitivities.

Good Food Makes Everyone Happy

3. Cut Down on Outdoor Allergens

My Maltese spent every summer suffering from itchy sores that began as soon as grass began to grow and lasted well into the fall. Generally, this resulted in endless scratching, sometimes until he pulled his own hair out. Then scabby sores would form all over his body. I felt like a terrible dog owner and was desperate to figure out what might help him.

For dogs with seasonal allergies caused by outdoor allergens, keeping the dog clean is a big deal. It's a good idea to wipe down the dog's feet, legs, and body once coming inside from a walk. This ensures that any allergens that he or she might have come into contact with don't remain on the dog's skin. You can use wipes made specifically for dogs, sensitive skin baby wipes, or a clean, damp cloth.

One thing that really did help my dog was a medicated shampoo. I've used store brands and also have a special prescription shampoo from the vet that helps to heal and calm skin issues. You often have to soap up the dog and let the shampoo sit for a few minutes, so trying to keep your suds-covered dog calm during that time can be a challenge!

4. Consider Medication

I was hesitant to give my dog medication to deal with his allergy issues. But the vet suggested trying Benedryl or Zyrtec, and both seemed to help somewhat. It's important to remember that dosages for both of these brands should be determined by the dog's weight, so it is imperative that you consult with your vet before attempting to self-medicate with these over-the-counter medications.

If your dog is anything like mine, he or she may need a prescription. Yes, dog allergy prescriptions exist! My Maltese is on a medication called Apoquel. It has calmed his itchiness and he is no longer developing itchy sores whenever he comes into contact with grass. It requires a prescription, and the cost will depend based on your pet's dosage needs, but for me, it has been worth the cost.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)