Can Dogs Suffer From Allergies Like Humans?

by Amanda Maddox
    Common allergens come from plants.

    Common allergens come from plants.

    George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Maybe humans and dogs are more alike than we know, especially when health is the issue. Unfortunately, allergens can affect anyone, both two- and four-legged mammals. Surprisingly, some causes and treatments of allergies are the same as well.

    Causes

    Allergens such as grass, pollen, chemicals in fabrics, dust and cigarette smoke often cause allergies in dogs and humans alike. However, other common causes of dog allergies includes fleas and skin mites. Additionally, dogs may suffer from food allergies, just like people. Common causes of food allergies are dairy and soy. When the body comes in contact with an allergen, it naturally produces histamines to try and fight the allergen off.

    Signs and Symptoms

    When dogs suffer from allergies, the symptoms often mimic those of people suffering from allergies. Symptoms can include sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, blocked airway or snoring, runny nose, diarrhea or ear infections. Chewing or constant licking, swollen paws and an itchy tail are symptoms dogs with allergies experience that humans generally do not, according to WebMD. Anaphylaxis -- a swelling in the airway that causes difficulty breathing and may become fatal -- is a severe allergy symptom that people may experience but dogs generally do not.

    Common Treatments

    Determining what causes the allergy is the first step in treatment. Doctors or veterinarians often perform skin or blood tests to confirm the cause. After identifying the culprit, an antihistamine is usually prescribed. This prevents the body from producing the histamines that cause swelling and itching. Antihistamines come in pill and liquid form. Additionally, a steroid may be necessary to give the body’s natural defense system a boost. A cream hydrocortisone for skin allergies may help reduce the redness and itching.

    Prevention

    Preventing allergies in both humans and dogs require the same basic steps. Start by removing anything that causes an allergic reaction, such as bedding, soap, dust, cigarette smoke, etc. When preventing food allergies, read all food labels and avoid any ingredients that cause discomfort. In severe cases, consider immunotherapy -- in which a doctor or vet prescribes allergy shots to boost antibodies that prevent allergic outbreaks.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Amanda Maddox began writing professionally in 2007. Her work appears on various websites focusing on topics about medical billing, coding, real estate, insurance, accounting and business. Maddox has her insurance and real estate licenses and holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting and business administration from Wallace State Community College.

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