The most common type of allergy among dogs is environmental, and most dogs show signs by the time they’re 6 years old. Those allergens can be anything from grass to pollen to dust mite dander (sound familiar?). For environmental allergies, it’s important to notice when the dog is exhibiting symptoms. Does it lick and chew at its paws after frolicking in the grass? Is its belly red after lying on the lawn? That could signal this type of allergy.
Flea allergies are the second most common type of allergy, and Vogelsang says the easiest to treat. “I hope it’s flea allergies. It’s the one that’s easiest to deal with.” Dogs with a flea allergy — which is actually an allergy to the flea’s saliva — will, well, “itch like crazy,” Vogelsang says. But the itch will be severe all over, not just where the dog was bitten. Untreated, it can cause recurrent hot spots, infections and bald spots on a dog’s rear end. (Tip: An itchy tail can signal a flea allergy.) This one, thankfully, is an easy fix. Be sure your pet stays up-to-date on flea-control medication.
Food allergies are actually the least common of all dog allergies, but Vogelsang cautions against confusing a food allergy with something else. “You can have an intolerance to food (but) that’s not really an allergy.” To determine whether your dog has a food allergy or intolerance, Vogelsang recommends an 8-12 week elimination diet.