Some dog breeds are more susceptible to allergies than others. This may be because of small nasal passages, allergic reactions to flea bites, irritable stomachs that make digesting food difficult, or they may be allergic to their own hair and dander.
The most common signs of allergies include raw skin where the dog has scratched, patches of hair missing, red skin, hives, coughing, sneezing, excessive chewing and licking of paws, watery eyes, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If the symptoms go away after a day or two, keep monitoring to see if they return. If they do, then you should take your dog to see a vet. Sometimes changing the type of dog food or buying a flea collar or spray is enough to help eliminate your dog's allergy problems.
When a dog is suffering from allergies his or her mood will probably change. I often think of how I would feel with an itchy nose, rash on my tummy and streaming eyes. Not too happy with the world! They may become irritable, lethargic, clingy, or angry. My very skin-sensitive little Archie becomes nervous and depressed. He constantly chews his paws (even if that's not the area worrying him), lies on his bed, looks extremely glum and gets snappy with Loka. These days, if he chews a little too often, I check immediately to see if his grass allergy is about to flare up.
Your buddy is suffering. The best way to solve his or her problem is trying to isolate the cause of the allergy. Did it begin a day or so after that trip to a new park? Are there particular creepers or vines there he or she may be allergic too? Many dogs are very allergic to different types of ground creepers. Did you go for a run on the beach and he or she get bitten by sand mites? Have you checked his or her ears for ear mites? Have you fed your dog anything different? Changed foods? Have a think about anything different you've done in the last few days to a week.
You may need to keep a simple journal of unusual activities, when symptoms appear, and what they look like, as some may come and go. Then you have some information you can show your vet, to help isolate the cause.
Some breeds may have breathing issues as they age. This has a lot to do with the structure of their heads. Short-faced dogs often have breathing difficulties when stressed, extreme hot or cold weather, or if they're pushed too hard when exercising. They may also snore or drool.
While these are not allergies as such, they can make your buddy more susceptible to hay fever allergies and nasal issues from grasses and seeds etc. I have two young Staffys, one who breathes quite well (Archie) and the other who snoring wakes people at the other side of the house (Loka)! Seriously. She's only two years old and is very fit and healthy. However, her breathing issues will probably become a problem as she gets older, and my aim is to ensure we are ready for them early.
The best you can do to start with, is keep their sleeping area clean, vacuum often, and wash their dog coats / vests / blankets with an anti-allergy or sensitive skin washing powder or liquid very regularly. My son is shorter to mild eczema, so I just use the same powder I do for him. I've actually changed everyone in the house to an anti-allergy powder, for simplicity's sake. Make sure clothes, blankets and towels are rinsed really well. Hanging on the line in the sunshine is much better for killing dust mites etc than a clothes dryer.
If you notice that your dog has fleas or has been bitten by fleas, you should bathe him or her using a shampoo that will kill fleas and their eggs. If you have a dog with sensitive skin, some of those shampoos can make problems worse.
Carpet spray may help, and you may have to use a flea "bomb" in all rooms of the house. At worst, an exterminator who has a good track record of using non-toxic products and is happy to discuss with you what is used, why, and affects on you, your dogs and children.
Once the fleas are gone, you should spray your dog every time the dog goes outside. This can prevent new attacks from occurring. If your dog has open bites, wounds or rashes from scratching, do wait for them to heal before using a spray or shampoo on your dog.
Vomiting can happen if your dog is allergic to the food he or she is eating. Food allergies also cause skin issues, just like they do with humans. Visit your vet to see if the problem is not internal. He or she may recommend a new food, which should stop the vomiting and diarrhea.
When our little black Staffy Loka came to us from a dog rescue center recently, she had a huge bare patch on her tail, no hair around either of her eyes, and little bits of hair missing around her body. Her coat was very dull. She scratched a lot, but did not have fleas. She had also been vomiting up the dried food she had been given by her previous family. She was allergic to all the grains in the dry food, and had a creeper skin allergy.
I've almost solved her problems in just over a month. It involved a simple but targeted combination of the right nutrition and clean bedding. She had steroid cream, but as she appeared to be doing well without it, I monitored her and persisted with the right food and simple exercise. Her coat is already gorgeous shiny now, her hair is growing back around her eyes, no body skin patches, and her tail hair has grown back. And she's earned half a kilo (a pound) We're all very happy!