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Does Your Dog Have Allergies?

If you have a dog, you may consider him/her as a part of your family, rather than just a pet.

Once these four-legged friends become a part of your family, you may begin to treat them like actual children. And, if they aren't acting how they usually do, you may feel a little concerned.

Unfortunately, unlike a child, you can't exactly ask your dog how she is doing, and if he is feeling okay. But, you can look out for signs he may be giving you to let you know he might need to see a vet.

With the seasons changing, the alteration of warmer and cooler weather could cause your dog to have allergies.

So, what are these signs to look out for?
  • Sneezing
  • Ear infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

What should you do if your dog has allergies?

Dr. Mike shares the warning signs to look out for and what you should do if your dog has allergies.

RadioMD Presents: Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: April 16, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Anti-aging and disease prevention radio is right here on RadioMD. Here's author, blogger, lecturer and national medical media personality, Dr. Michael Smith, MD, with Healthy Talk.

DR MIKE: Does your dog have allergies? I mean, how do you know? So, let me share with you my experience with this and if you're a frequent listener of Healthy Talk you know that I have a border collie mix her name is Edy, E-d-y. It's from Edy Ice Cream. I think it's maybe mostly in the South. for those of you who know Edy Ice Cream, she's as sweet as that wonderful snack.

And ,I guess she's getting, gosh, close to 7 years old now and I guess it was a couple of months ago, I had noticed that she was kind of gnawing, chewing on her paws especially at night. And it was really mainly just the front paws and I thought, "Oh. Well, maybe there's something there." I mean, I couldn't see any rash or whatever, but I'm a human doctor. I'm not a dog doctor, so I took her into the vet and he did a very thorough exam.

I take her to what's called a "VCA Vet Hospitals" in South Florida--just a wonderful group of vets and technicians. So anyway, the vet did his job, checked everything out and everything looked fine. He didn't see anything and he asked me, "So, when do you notice she's doing this? Is she gnawing and chewing very aggressively? And is it hard to distract her from that?" And I said, "Oh, no. Not at all. It looks like she's quite calm and just kind of hanging out laying next to me chewing her paw, I don't know." Yes. He said that usually when they're like that, that they're calm, you can distract them, that usually just means the dog is grooming. If they're more aggressive with it, if the dog is really chewing at the paw, you know, making sniffing noises, is hard to distract, that might be fleas, ticks or allergies.

That's what I wanted to talk with you today. I mean, how do you really know if your dog has an allergy? Well, that's one way. If they're chewing their paws but it has to be in an aggressive manner and sometimes you'll see a rash and sometimes you don't. That was something else the vet told me that you don't always recognize--the rash. So, that's why after he performed the physical exam on Edy he asked, "How is she acting? What's her behavior when she's doing this?" When I said it was quite calm, he just thought, "No, she's grooming herself." That was good news for me.

So, no allergies with Edy but, by the way, according to a report from foot chewing, I guess technically it should say "paw" chewing, one of the signs of an allergy and again, it has to be pretty aggressive. Now, what allergies cause this kind of behavior in a dog? Usually food allergies that often, if you see a dog chewing on the paw, a food allergy should be the first thing that comes to mind or it could be things that they are actually contacting in the grass. You know, lots of chemicals or pesticides are being applied to the grass, especially around apartment complexes, neighbor's yards and stuff. So, you have to be very careful about that. Especially that little sign that says "keep pets and kids away". You really should listen to that for at least 48 hours. So, usually a contact dermatitis type thing versus a food allergy if you notice foot chewing.

So, what are some of the other signs and symptoms that your dog may have allergies? Well, obviously, the skin if they're itching in a very specific area over and over and over again, that's a good sign that there could be an allergy, especially, if they're on the flea and tick pills. Now, the flea and tick pills don't stop a flea or tick from hopping on. They really prevent infestation. So, you've still got to make sure that there are no fleas no ticks. If you're ruled that out and they're gnawing on one specific area, that might be a sign that there is an allergy issue. As a matter of fact, talking about this with my vet, he had said that if there's bumps around the area where the dog is chewing, that probably is flea bites but if it's a flat rash, if the skin becomes scaly, that kind of thing, that might lead one to think that that itching might be from some sort of contact dermatitis or again maybe like a food allergy.

So, you have to start looking at the things you're feeding them; the snacks; have you changed the food; are you bathing with a different cleanser; those types of things. Another sign and symptom, actually, I guess this would be more of a symptom of allergies would be sneezing. Now, every animal sneezes on occasion and I remember when I was growing up during early Spring in Houston, Texas, I'm not kidding you, I could sneeze like 20 times in a row. It was just during the Spring. I mean, achoo, achoo, achoo! They were short and quick, bop, bop, bop. And people would laugh at me. It gave me complex. No, just kidding. But same thing with a dog.

It's one thing for a dog to sneeze once or twice on occasion but if your dog in the morning during a certain seasons, usually early Spring or early Fall, if they're sneezing away, that's another sign that there could be some allergies. Dogs can be tested just like humans, I found out. They can do a skin test to test for different allergens. According to the VCA Animal Hospital in South Florida, usually you're going to see it during the Spring. Dogs tend to be more sensitive to the pollens, the ragweeds, the molds, the grasses as they flower. You know, we've got to remember grasses are a flowering plant.

We forget that and that always happens the most in the Spring. So, if your dog is sneezing repetitively everyday it's early Spring, you can go ahead and get an allergy test to see which allergy, if it is an allergy, and to see which one. If it's outside of the Spring you're talking Winter, mid-Summer when it's really hot and a lot of those allergens are actually down, you might consider, is there something indoors? Indoor allergens are just as bad as outdoor. As a matter of fact, there are some people that think the inside is a lot more polluted than the outside. So dust, perfume, carpet powders.

You know, I had a friend who used one of those pet carpet powders just to help clean up the dirt and the smell and her dog had sneezing attacks with it and she had to stop using that. So, just look at the different types of cleansers and powders that you might be using inside your home as well.

Ears. What happens with dogs is a lot of fluid builds up in their ears because their ear canals are long. I also found out just like in human kids a lot of times, especially the smaller breeds, the ear canal is--from the sinus to the ear--is kind of flat, so it's easy for fluid to flow from the sinuses into the ears. In human adults that can...Now actually that is traveling up from the sinuses to the ears so there's less chance of that fluid...That's why kids get a lot more ear infections.

Same thing with dogs. Apparently, especially in smaller breeds, that ear canal tends to be more even. It doesn't have to go uphill from the sinuses to the ears, so you get a lot of fluid in the ears which then leads to the infections. So black gunk in the ear, a lot of itching in the ear, you want to go get that checked out as well.

And I want to mention, so what do you do if your dog does have allergies? Are there treatments? Well, it turns out after doing some research, I found this on and I did confirm this with the VCA Hospital in South Florida. Dogs can use quercetin. I've been using quercetin in humans for allergies for a long time. It helps with my sneezing, as a matter of fact. Quercetin comes from the peel part of citrus fruit.

The human dose is about 250-1000 milligrams a day, so the question always becomes. "Well, how much do I give my dog?" Well, there's a formula that I found, again, on You take your pets weight and you multiply it by 500 and then divide that by 125. So, if I use Edy for an example, she's 40 pounds, I multiply that by 500 and divide by 125. I come out to 160 milligrams a day of quercetin. That's what I would do for Edy. So, quercetin is an answer to some of these things. Of course, go talk to the vet first, please, but at that point talk to your vet about starting quercetin using that formula.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.