PetThe Most Common Allergens for Dogs: What You Need to Know

The Most Common Allergens for Dogs: What You Need to Know

Allergies are a common health issue in dogs, affecting up to 10% of the canine population. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to various substances, ranging from food and pollen to flea bites and cleaning products. If left untreated, allergies can cause discomfort and even lead to secondary infections. 

As a responsible dog owner, it’s important to understand the most common allergens for dogs and how to identify and manage allergies in your furry friend. 

In this article, we will discuss the most common allergens that affect dogs and what you can do to prevent and manage allergies in your canine companion.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are a common type of allergy in dogs, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. According to Dog O Day, your furry friend may have an allergy to certain types of food. Unfortunately, you may not become aware of this until your pet has consumed the allergen. While proteins are typically the most common source of food allergies in dogs, any type of food can trigger a reaction.

Among the most frequent food allergies in dogs are the following:

  • Dairy
  • soy
  • Eggs
  • Beef and chicken
  • Wheat gluten

When a dog has a food allergy, their immune system overreacts to these substances, causing symptoms such as itching, skin irritation, digestive upset, and ear infections. 

To diagnose a food allergy, a veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet, where certain foods are removed from the dog’s diet and then gradually reintroduced to identify the allergen. Managing a food allergy often involves feeding a hypoallergenic diet or avoiding the allergen altogether.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies are another common type of allergy in dogs. Dogs can be allergic to various environmental allergens, including pollen, mold, dust mites, and dander. 

When a dog inhales or comes into contact with these allergens, their immune system overreacts, causing a range of symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and watery eyes. Environmental allergies can be seasonal or year-round, depending on the allergen.

Flea Allergies

According to VCA Animal Hospital, dogs commonly experience itching due to flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Fleas usually don’t remain on a dog for long, except when they are feeding, which is why owners may not see them unless there is a severe flea infestation in the dog’s environment

Flea allergies in dogs are caused by the saliva of fleas. Flea saliva contains proteins that can trigger an allergic reaction in some dogs, even with just one flea bite. The allergic reaction can cause intense itching and skin irritation, sometimes leading to secondary infections. 

Prevention is key in managing flea allergies, and it’s important to keep your dog on a regular flea prevention regimen.

Contact Allergies

Contact allergies are another type of allergy that can affect dogs. Some dogs may develop an allergic reaction when their skin comes into contact with certain substances, such as cleaning products, fabrics, or plants. 

Identifying and avoiding the specific allergen is important in managing contact allergies in dogs. 

Common Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs

Symptoms of allergies in dogs include itching, scratching, biting, or licking at the affected area, red or inflamed skin, ear infections, sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes. 

According to The Scotsman, scratching is usually the first sign that your dog is suffering from allergies. Itching can vary from mild to severe and is often noticed around the armpit, chest, and paw areas. If left untreated, excessive scratching can cause your dog to scratch the skin until it becomes raw, which can increase the risk of infection.

Dogs may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea if they have a food allergy. It’s important to recognize the signs of allergies in dogs and seek veterinary care if you suspect your dog may have an allergy. 

Early diagnosis and management can help prevent more severe symptoms and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Diagnosis of Dog Allergies

If you suspect that your dog has an allergy, it’s important to seek veterinary care for an accurate diagnosis. Your veterinarian may perform tests such as skin tests, blood tests, or elimination diets to identify the allergen. 

Blood tests can detect antibodies to specific allergens, while skin tests involve exposing the dog’s skin to small amounts of suspected allergens and monitoring for a reaction. An elimination diet involves removing certain foods from the dog’s diet and gradually reintroducing them to identify a food allergen. 

Once the allergen is identified, your veterinarian can recommend a treatment plan to manage your dog’s allergy symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Treatment Options

Treatment for dog allergies typically involves managing the symptoms and identifying and avoiding the allergen if possible. One medication that has gained popularity for treating allergy symptoms in dogs is Apoquel. 

The benefits of Apoquel for pets include fast and effective relief from itching, reduced skin lesions, and improved overall quality of life for pets suffering from allergic skin disease. 

According to the pet medication platform, PetRx, Apoquel starts relieving itching in dogs within 4 hours. It is effective for various allergies such as fleas, food, contact, and atopic dermatitis. And unlike steroids, Apoquel has a minimal impact on the immune system.


Preventing allergies in dogs is not always possible, but there are steps you can take to reduce your dog’s risk of developing allergies. These steps include:

  • Feeding a balanced and nutritious diet can support your dog’s immune system and overall health, reducing the risk of developing allergies.
  • Keeping your dog’s living area clean and free of allergens, such as dust and pollen, can reduce the likelihood of environmental allergies.
  • Preventing flea infestations with regular flea prevention is crucial in managing flea allergies.
  • Working closely with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s health and seek prompt treatment if allergy symptoms arise can improve your dog’s quality of life.
  • Early detection and management can help reduce the risk of complications from allergies.


Allergies in dogs are a common problem that can cause discomfort and affect their quality of life. Dogs can develop allergies to a variety of substances, including food, environmental allergens, and flea saliva. Identifying and managing the underlying allergen is key to treating and preventing allergy symptoms. 

Working closely with your veterinarian to diagnose and develop a treatment plan for your dog’s allergies can help improve their quality of life. In addition, taking preventative measures, such as feeding a balanced diet, keeping their living area clean, and preventing flea infestations, can help reduce the risk of allergies developing in the first place.