The five most common allergenic triggers in dogs

The five most common allergenic triggers in dogs

Health & Safety

As any person who suffers from hayfever or any other allergy will already know, allergies can make your life really miserable when they flare up, and for many people there is little that can be done to avoid their particular allergenic triggers in order to keep the symptoms under control.

Humans are of course not the only species that can be prone to suffering from allergies, and dogs are another-and whilst a reasonably small percentage of the canine population are apt to suffer from allergies, they can also be harder to manage than is the case for people.

The reasons for this are multiple-by the time symptoms become apparent, the trigger of the allergy may have passed, making it harder to identify the root cause. Additionally, your dog cannot tell you how they are feeling at any given time, or if they have an internal upset or problem, and so a lot of the process of identifying and managing canine allergies relies on narrowing down potential causes, limiting exposure, and keeping symptoms under control.

Some canine allergies can be easier to identify than others-such as hayfever, which will tend to be seasonal and worsen after walks in green spaces or when the pollen count is high-while others can take a lot of detective work to get to the bottom of things. Generally, exposure testing and the controlled elimination of potential triggers for allergies are the main ways to get a diagnosis, and so, establish how to proceed.

Whilst there are a virtually limitless range of potential allergens in the environment, when it comes to canine allergies, some triggers are universally much more common than others. This means that in order to identify the trigger and so, work to counteract it, it is usually sensible to start by confirming or ruling out the most common causes of allergies in dogs.

In this article, we will list the five most common allergenic triggers in dogs and how they might manifest, in order to give you a head start. Read on to learn more.

Grass and pollen

One of the most common allergenic triggers in dogs are various different types of pollens, which of course is the allergy that we often refer to as hayfever. Plants produce and spread pollen in order to reproduce-and any given type of pollen or a much wider board of many types of pollen may trigger an allergy in your dog.

Even grass itself can be a trigger for some dogs, and of course, such an allergy can be very hard to control because it is almost impossible to keep your dog away from green spaces and allow them to live a natural life. Grass and pollen allergies tend to come and go as the pollen counts rise and fall, and using weather forecasts to identify if your dog’s flare-ups follow a pattern can be helpful in identifying problematic times of year.

Management of pollen and grass allergies can be complex and challenging, but identifying the cause in the first place is a good start!

Food ingredients

A reasonable number of dog owners try to avoid grains such as corn and wheat in their dog food, as these are not a necessary part of the dog’s diet and simply provide bulk. Whilst few dogs are truly allergic to such ingredients, eliminating them from the diet of a dog with allergies is a good start.

Grains are not the only potentially allergenic ingredient in dog foods, and dogs can also prove to be allergic to pretty much anything, including shellfish, beef, and poultry!

Fleabite sensitivity

Fleabites can be an irritating inconvenience for dogs, but a real flea infestation or long-term untreated fleas can actually cause an allergy in itself, which will remain with the dog for life-this is known as fleabite hypersensitivity.

The condition means that every time a flea bites your dog, the saliva of the flea causes a localised and very irritating reaction to the bite, which can make their lives very miserable.

If your dog seems to always come up in red, angry lumps when bitten, this may be the cause, and you should work hard to eliminate fleas and keep them away from your dog in future.

Chemical compounds

As well as triggers of natural origins, a wide range of different chemical compounds (both natural and artificial) can cause allergies in your dog too. Identifying the culprit in this case can be most challenging, and such allergies are often treated as generalised allergies without an identified cause, simply because getting to the bottom of it can be so difficult.

Some of the more common chemical allergenic triggers in dogs include plastics, chemical flea and tick products, air fresheners and cleaning products and even makeup and fragrance used as cosmetics.


Finally, dust can be more than simply an annoying household issue that requires cleaning, and an actually be an allergenic trigger for dogs and people alike. A large percentage of household dust consists of dead skin cells (both human and animal) which are made of protein, and proteins of all types can potentially be an allergenic trigger.

Avoiding soft furnishings (using hard floors, leather sofas and blinds rather than curtains) and keeping your house clean, as well as using air purifiers within the home can all help to keep this trigger under control.

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