Peanut Allergies In Dogs

Peanut allergies in people are something that have become very high-profile over the last ten or fifteen years, as a serious peanut allergy can be very dangerous and even potentially fatal.

For this reason, all restaurants are required to provide allergen lists to their diners if asked for them, and food ingredient listings in supermarkets are also required to clearly state allergenic ingredients such as peanuts, or if there is any possibility that the ingredients in question may have come into contact with peanuts at some stage during the manufacture or preparation process.

Added to this, the number of people who are allergic to peanuts appears to be on the rise too, although whether or not the increase is a genuine one or simply due to better awareness and recognition of the symptoms is something that experts are not sure of either.

Whilst less common, dogs can also suffer from peanut allergies as well, and this can be just as potentially dangerous for dogs as it is for people.

It can be hard to convince the average dog owner that a peanut allergy is a real problem or risk for their dog, because many dog owners think that even if their dog is allergic to peanuts, the chances of their dog eating peanuts is rare.

However, peanut allergies are not always only triggered by whole peanuts alone, but peanut oil and other parts of the plant that are often used as ingredients in other products, some of which are marketed for dogs, and some of which are common ingredients in human food that many of us give to our dogs as treats.

Even a tiny amount of peanut can cause a severe allergic reaction in dogs (or people) that are prone to them, such as if food is prepared within a factory that handles peanuts in another area, even if peanuts are not included in the recipe itself.

For all of these reasons and more, it is important for dog owners to learn to recognise the symptoms of peanut allergies in their dogs, and understand a little bit about how to manage such an allergy. Read on to learn more.

The symptoms of peanut allergies in dogs

When a dog has an allergic reaction to something, the symptoms can be very variable and hard to pin down, and of course, even once you have identified that your dog is having a reaction to something, it can be even harder to work out what they reacted to!

However, knowing how to recognise the reaction itself helps you to narrow things down, and then you can look at what your dog has been eating or doing in the lead-up to the reaction itself.

Mild and moderate peanut allergies tend to present with generalised allergenic symptoms, including some or all of the following:

  • Hayfever-like symptoms such as red, itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose.
  • Pruritus or itchy skin, which may cause your dog to rub or scratch themselves to excess, to the point that it causes sore spots and fur loss.
  • Digestive upsets such as bloating, diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • A skin rash or breakouts.

Anaphylactic shock

A fast-onset, serious and acute allergic reaction to peanuts (or any other allergen) can lead to a frightening and potentially very dangerous reaction called anaphylactic shock. This is the most serious risk for both people and dogs that suffer from peanut allergies, and even contact with the tiniest trace of peanuts or peanut oils can trigger a response.

Anaphylactic shock is a body response to the presence of an allergenic threat, and is dangerous because it can lead to the throat and nasal cavity swelling up to the point that it obstructs breathing, and this requires the fast administration of adrenalin in order to potentially save the dog’s life.

Diagnosing the source of the problem

If your dog has an acute reaction to something containing peanuts, you will likely need to take your dog to the vet immediately so that they can administer adrenalin to them. If you are not sure what your dog reacted to, your vet will work with you to identify what was going on and what your dog might have eaten that caused the problem.

For less acute allergies that present more minor and generalised symptoms, your vet may run exposure and exclusion testing, using some of the most common allergenic triggers and ruling them out one by one.

How can a peanut allergy be managed?

If your dog is diagnosed as suffering from a peanut allergy, your vet will provide you with advice and guidance on how to avoid your dog coming into contact with peanuts, and how to keep their symptoms under control if they do. This may involve giving your dog antihistamines, and of course, avoiding having peanuts around your dog!

If your dog has previously had a serious reaction to peanuts, your vet may provide you with an epipen, or a single-dose, easy to administer shot of adrenaline to reverse the effects of peanut ingestion in an emergency.


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