When you share your life with an animal, you become in tune to their needs. You know the signals and body language for when they want to go outside, if they need their water bowl filled, when they want to play, when they want to nap and so on. The hard part about this relationship, however, is that you can’t communicate the way you would with any other family member. Your pet doesn’t speak English (or any one of our languages, for that matter) and can’t properly communicate with you when something is wrong.

One of the more frustrating examples is when you suspect that your dog has allergies. There are a number of things that could trigger an allergic reaction. It could be an element from the outdoors, an ingredient in their food, or toys you give them. So, how do you tell if your dog has allergies? Here are some of the signs to look for.

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Skin

If you notice your dog scratching themselves more than usual, there might be an allergic reaction presenting itself in rash form. Take note of where your dog seems to have an itch and see if there is a rash or any kind of bumps on their skin in that area.

Rashes might be caused by your dog coming into contact with plants they are allergic to, such as poison ivy. Irritation can also be caused by road salt or landscaping chemicals. Have you gotten a new rug or refinished the floors in your home? You pup might be allergic to a chemical in either of these things.

Itchy skin or a rash can also be a sign that your dog has a food allergy or is sensitive to the shampoo you use to bathe them. There are a number of causes for itchy skin, but if you notice your pup is scratching more than usual it can indicate they’re experiencing allergies.

Sneezing

This is one reaction we can all relate to: The sniffling and sneezing associated with allergies. If you’re noticing your dog sneezing away, like with us, it’s a sign they’re suffering from allergies.

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Like humans, dogs can have seasonal allergies and react to different environmental pollutants. If your pup starts to sneeze every time they go out in the Spring time, you can look to pollen, ragweed, mold, and even some types of grasses as the source of the allergy.

Sneezing can also be a reaction to an indoor allergen that is bothering your dog’s nose. Dust, perfume, carpet powder or certain indoor cleaning products might trigger an allergy in your pup. Be sure to track the circumstances surrounding sneeze attacks when you notice them. If Rover has been digging for a toy under the couch (that hasn’t been vacuumed for a while) and comes up sneezing – that’s a good sign they might have a dust allergy.

Ear Infections

If your dog has ear infections that just won’t go away, that could be a sign of something more than just built-up earwax. Frequent ear infections means that your dog’s body is reacting to something it does not like.

Most ear infections are caused by a bacteria or yeast infection. This sort of infection is triggered by or made worse due to continual exposure to allergens. According to PetMD, “Allergens like pollens, mold, dust, feathers, cigarette smoke, cleaning products, and certain foods can also lead to ear infections in a dog.”

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Foot Chewing

Have you ever spotted your dog chewing on their toes? While they might just be grooming themselves, if they are chewing more than usual and seem more itchy than normal, this could be a sign your dog is allergic to their food. Food allergies often show themselves in the form itchy limbs, face and feet.

Diarrhea

If you’ve been noticing diarrhea when you take your dog on walks, it could be more than just an upset stomach. Diarrhea over a longer period of time (that is, more than a day) is a sign that something isn’t quite right. Your pup might be allergic to an ingredient in their food which is causing their stomach to be upset.

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Since diarrhea is a symptom of other illnesses and issues, be on the lookout for additional symptoms that may be related to allergies.

Vomiting

Any time your dog vomits is a reason to be concerned. Some cases are mild and result in your dog eating something they shouldn’t have eaten or having an upset stomach. Other cases, however, could be an allergic reaction. The most likely culprit of vomiting is an allergen that is in your dog’s food.

Take a mental note of what’s in the vomit and the frequency so you can give a detailed description to your vet.

How to Fix It

Usually, one of the biggest factors in a pet’s allergy is the kind of food they’re eating. This can be from their daily meals to treats and edible chew toys. The easiest thing to do is to change their diet and take away treats and edible chews. It is best to go with a natural diet and swap out boxed dog treats with ones you make at home. You can also research which kinds of “people” foods are best for your dog’s nutrition. For their daily meals, there are plenty of high-quality pet foods available that will give your dog the nutrients they need as well as the ingredients they won’t have a reaction to.

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If food isn’t the main factor, it could be common allergies, like we get. If you notice changes throughout the year, it may be seasonal allergies. If that’s the case, give your dog a regular bath to get rid of the allergens they bring inside. If nothing changes and you’ve swapped their food, toys and treats, there could be something inside your house that’s bothering them. The best solution for this is to clean up the house. Swap household cleaners for natural ones without chemicals. There are many you can easily make at home. If you smoke inside, that could be an issue as well. An air purifier might be a good investment to get rid of dust mites.

Additionally, you will have to pay close attention to your dog’s behaviors. Make a diary or spreadsheet with dates of when you swapped the food/cleaned your house and what the symptoms are like each day. This will help you to better pinpoint what it is that’s bothering your dog and help you make their life better.

Image: karen&2mutts/Flickr