Vet Blog

Common allergies that your senior dog may have

November 29, 2018

If your senior dog hasn't had allergies in the past, you may think that it is too late for him to suffer from them now.

However, while any allergies should have made themselves apparent, this isn't always the case. In fact, in a lot of older dogs the allergy has always been there to some degree, but it isn't until he gets a lot older and his immune system is not functioning as well as it once did that the intolerance becomes serious enough to warrant medical intervention.

Types of allergies that your senior dog may have

Canine allergies tend to fall into three different categories. While it is possible for your dog to have issues with just one, many canines will experience two or all three type of intolerance during their lifetime.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies are by far the most common type of allergy to affect dogs in the United States. As their name suggests, this type of hypersensitivity is triggered by elements in the environment around your furbaby and is often seasonal in nature. Some of the most common triggers are tree, grass and weed pollens. Most owners find that their dog' symptoms worsen in the spring and fall months when pollen counts are at their highest. Other common environmental allergies are mold and dust.

Symptoms of an environmental allergy typically include:

  • Excessive itching and scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Poor quality coat
  • Hives
  • Ear infections
  • Persistently licking or chewing his paws

Food Allergies

Dogs may be renowned for being unfussy about what they eat, but the reality is that your canine is just as likely to suffer from food allergies as you are. In fact, studies suggest that approximately 10% of all allergy cases in dogs relate to what the animal has been eating. In most cases, dogs are born with food allergies rather than developing them. The most common food allergens seen in dogs are lamb, beef, wheat, chicken, diary, soy and pork. Chances are, your dog will show hypersensitivity to more than one of the items in this list.

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:

  • Excessive itching/scratching
  • Sneezing
  • Hot spots
  • Skin problems including scaling, flakiness and rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Ear infections
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Excessive grooming, particularly the paws and/or abdomen
  • Itching of the ears/shaking the head

Flea Allergies

Unless you have your dog properly protected from the moment you bring him home, chances are that he will catch fleas at some point during his lifetime. These parasites live on the body of their host and drink their blood to survive. They are virtually microscopic, making them nearly impossible to spot with the naked eye. However, they multiple at an exponential rate and just a few fleas can turn into a momentous population in just a few weeks if treatment isn't sought right away. However, as well as blood loss and the diseases they can transmit, your dog will also probably suffer a result of the bite itself. This is because flea saliva contains a toxin that is highly irritating to your pet, causing him to scratch like mad. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common dermatologic disease of domestic dogs in the United States.

If you suspect that your senior dog is suffering from allergies, we strongly recommend that you make him an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Doing so will enable your vet to get him the diagnosis and treatment that he needs to remain as comfortable as possible during his 'retirement' years with you.

If you have any further questions about allergies that your senior dog may be experiencing, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be happy to help. Please contact our animal clinic in Birmingham, AL.