Dog Allergy Symptoms

It’s safe to say that my Boxer dog Elsie has a severe case of allergies.  When her allergies were at their worst, I was convinced she would not live to be four years old. She was on a constant diet of prescription allergy drugs and antibiotics, which did little more than keep her from tearing out her fur. That year alone, we spent over $2,000 on veterinary bills. And all we had to show for it was a sick dog.

Elsie first started exhibiting allergy symptoms when she was less than a year old.  I remember giggling to myself one night as I watched her rub her chin on the floor.  I thought she looked so cute, bobbing her head back and forth on the rug.  “Oh, does someone have an itchy chin?” I said.  Little did I know how itchy that chin and the rest of the dog would get.

Over time, the cute itching would turn into violent scratching and chewing. Her scratching would create sores on her ears which would open and bleed each time she flapped her head. Her chewing would turn her paws dark red and cause hair loss on her haunches.  In the beginning, I thought she was just being a dog.  Later, I learned she was losing a painful battle against her deficient immune system.

Over the next several posts, I’ll share some of the top dog allergy symptoms. If your dog is showing some of these symptoms, it’s possible they may have a food or environmental allergy.  If so, you should consider consulting with a qualified veterinarian for specific instructions on the treatment and care for your dog.

9 thoughts on “Dog Allergy Symptoms

  1. I noticed that you did not mention anything about nasal discharge or sneezing. Our 12 year old yellow lab mix began coughing and sneezing a lot about 2 years ago. It eventually developed into bouts of her sneezing out thick, yellowish mucous from her nose. This is most prevalent in the mornings, but she also has occasional bouts during the day too. The severity seems to come and go from day to day. She also licks her paws a lot, and I have noticed some dark pigmented spots on her belly lately. We are not really seeing any hair loss. We had her fully checked out by the vet last year – x-rays of her lungs and nasal passages, a nasal scope, rounds of antibiotics. They finally said she has “rhinitis”, which simply means nasal inflammation. We are convinced that she has allergies, but have not seen anyone relating these specific symptoms to allergies. Has anyone else had a dog diagnosed with an allergy that is having nasal discharge issues like this? Thanks! Great site!

  2. Hi Tom. Thanks for writing. We haven’t experienced nasal discharge with Elsie, but I’ve also learned that dogs have so many different reactions to allergies. The paw licking and the dark pigmented spots on the belly certainly sound like allergy symptoms. Where does your dog sleep at night? If it is most prevalent in the morning, I wonder if she is allergic to something in her sleeping quarters? Possibly dust mites or the material she sleeps on? This is the tricky part – trying to figure out what exactly they are allergic to.

  3. Hi Tom, Our boxer Roxy is also suffering with nasal discharge but not constantly. Roxy appears to get this most often after being in our backyard. She doesn’t really have thick yellowish discharge. Its more thin and watery, but in any case, we’re really troubled by all the other symptoms. She’s doing a lot of ear flapping these days and has been shedding a great deal. She’s on prednisone right now and I’m concerned about her. She seams listless and depressed to me as well, but she’s been breaking out into hives about every six to eight weeks now that she’s older (7).

  4. Has anyone been told that its almost impossible to detect what their Boxer is allergic to? My vet, who I love and trust explained that you can almost never find the exact allergen and even if you do allergy testing is very unreliable. I’ve been so frustrated by the whole ordeal. Roxy is not chewing at her paws as much these days, but has been showing signs of depression. Has anyone else seen depression due to allergies in their Boxer?

    I could use all the help I can on this one.


  5. Hi Carol,

    We had a very good experience with intradermal allergy tests on our Boxer. We learned that she was allergic to several different environmental allergens. It may not be the right choice for everyone, but the allergy tests and allergy shots made a big different in our Boxer Elsie’s quality of life. I haven’t had experience with depression, perhaps others reading this have.


  6. Hi All,
    My 6 mo old black lab got hit with an acute allergic reaction two days ago. Her muzzle and face swelled up. Brought her immediately to the Vet who gave her a steroid injection and prescribed 50mg of Benadryl every 8 hours for 3 days. Day two she was ok (a bit tired from the drugs) but later that night her entire undercarriage turned bright red and itchy. She spent the night biting and itching; we spent the night trying to clam her. Here we are on the 4th with no contact with the Vet. Thinking about oatmeal bath or oatmeal shampoo to get her thru the day. Any suggestions?

  7. Usually I clue in by smelling my dog’s ears. If they smell punky I give a small spritz of half vinegar and half water 3 to 4 spritzes and watch him shake his head. Do this outside or at your ex spouses house. You can’t imagine what comes out. Anyone else notice that if affects their dog on one side more than the other?

  8. My 7 yr old boxer had a dark red discoloration on the pad of his paw . Vet aspirated and culture . Ointment. And bandage which is changed every four days – went to the vet today and found a little blood in the wrapping and rewrapped – came home and he is out of control licking out of control – vet never said anything about allergy – could it be an allergy – going back to the vet today(second time) any thoughts would be appreciated.

  9. FOOD! I put my pup, who suffered so bad from allergic reactions, and had hot spots, hair loss, she was miserable. I put her on grain-free food and started giving her a vit E gelcap once a day. Her itching stopped and her hair came back. She has always had thin hair, and now we have to trim her!

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