The most common dog allergies and how to manage them

By Dr. Cherice Roth, KeraVet Bio Advisor

Humans aren’t the only ones who sneeze and itch when something in the environment rubs them the wrong way. Dogs get allergies too, and it’s just as uncomfortable — they just can’t tell us what’s wrong.

Most common dog allergens

With this information and some good dog health advice from a vet, pet parents can start to find relief for their furry four-legged friends.


Fleas cause itching in all dogs, but some are more sensitive than others. This hypersensitivity is known as flea allergy dermatitis, and it usually shows up when a dog is two to five years old. It causes extreme itching and hair loss, mostly around the hindquarters in what vets call the “flea triangle.”

Insect bites and mites

As with humans, dogs can be extra sensitive or have allergic reactions to dust mites or insect bites. Bees, ticks, ants, mosquitos, chiggers and other insects can cause rashes or swollen areas if a pet is bitten or stung. Pet parents should look out for swelling, red bumps, excessive itching, or for a pet that is having trouble breathing after time in areas where they may encounter some of these bugs. Often times minor cases of allergic reaction may go away on their own. More moderate, chronic, or severe reactions may require oral antihistamine meds, medicated skin wipes, or treatment by a veterinarian.


When we humans are sneezing from plants’ excretions, our dogs aren’t usually doing the same. That’s not because dogs aren’t allergic to pollen. It’s because pollen allergies cause different symptoms in our furry friends. The pollen is more likely to affect their skin. Common symptoms include:

  • Itchy, red, or scabby skin
  • Runny eyes‌
  • Paw licking and chewing


Mold allergies can be particularly frustrating because, unlike pollen and fleas, they affect a dog year-round. Dogs with mold allergies tend to have chronic skin problems with symptoms such as:

  • Itching
  • Inflammation
  • Dryness
  • Scaliness and flaking
  • Hair loss

Dogs with mold allergies may scratch themselves incessantly and lick at inflamed areas, particularly the paws. In some cases, they can develop respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing.

There are medications that can help a dog with mold allergies. Still, controlling mold growth in the home is more important.

Food ingredients

Dogs may want to eat everything, but that doesn’t mean they should. Food allergies make up 10% of all allergies in dogs, and that doesn’t even count food intolerances.

Intolerances only cause digestive disturbances, but allergies are systemic. In addition to stomach upset, they can cause anything from chronic itching to ear inflammation.

The most common dog food allergens include:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Egg
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Dairy

The best way to figure out whether a dog is allergic to a food, and which food that might be, is to eliminate ingredients systematically from their diet. A vet can help guide the process.

Changing a dog’s diet is usually the go-to strategy for a pet parent when faced with canine food allergies. But commercial “allergy diets” don’t address a dog’s individual needs. What’s really called for in this situation is some professional puppy advice. A vet can listen to a pet parent’s questions and give personalized recommendations, many of which can be easy at-home solutions to help with a pet’s allergies.

Learn more about KeraVet Bio Lead Medical Advisor, , Dr. Cherice Roth, MS, DVM, by visiting her on LinkedIn.