Dog Allergies – History and Clincal Signs

With spring right around the corner, I thought it was time to do a series of blog posts on allergies.  Allergies may develop at any age but typically dogs start showing signs around two or three years of age.  The symptoms are usually seasonal at first and progress slowly over time.  The typical history goes something like this:  Owner notices that the skin on the dog’s abdomen or other thinly haired areas is reddened.  The dog seems more itchy than normal.  The owner seeks veterinary attention when the constant scratching keeps them up at night.  Symptomatic therapy brings the dog relief at first.  Eventually, the dog has symptoms throughout the year and requires a full medical workup to determine the cause of the allergies and optimal treatment strategies. 

Clinical signs vary greatly.  Here are some of the more common ones:

1)  Reddened eyes.
2)  Brown stained fur on paws from constant licking.
3)  Ear disease, especially recurring ear infections.  The inflammation caused by allergies changes the mucosa of the ear, predisposing it to infection.
4)  Excessive itchiness (pruritis) anywhere on the body including the anus.
5)  Diarrhea and less commonly, vomiting from food allergies.
6)  Stronge body odor.
7)  Dull, poor hair coat and reddened skin.
8)  Hot spots (localized areas of moist dermatitis caused by staph.)
9)  Behavior changes, these dogs are miserable.


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.