OT- Dog Allergies

Submitted by BiSB on March 29th, 2011 at 1:34 PM

This is Gus:

Gus is a nearly 2-year-old American Bulldog. He enjoys walks, playing at the park, and food. Lately, he also enjoys severe allergic reactions caused by unknown stimuli:

It has happened twice now, both within the last week.  His face swells like a balloon, and he develops a serious hives on his legs and neck.  A shot of antihistimines at the vet has solved the problem both times, but that's a rather expensive trip to take regularly. 

I have no idea what is causing these reactions, but it doesn't seem to be food.  The vet seems to think it might be spider bites, but we haven't seen any spiders around the house.  Have any MGoDog owners experienced anything similar?  Any advice?  Preferably advice that does not involve anal glands?



March 29th, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

Benadryl twice a day for an undiagnosed allergy. They think it's food, but they haven't narrowed it down in over a year, but regular old Benadryl does the trick.



Be sure to consult a Veterinarian prior to giving animal people medicine. Lol "people medicine"


March 29th, 2011 at 1:48 PM ^

No offense as I really wanted an English Bulldog, but isn't their life expectancy one of the lowest (10 years)?  And don't they also have major breathing issues?  I could be wrong but that's one of the reasons we went with a lab instead.


March 29th, 2011 at 1:56 PM ^

I had one when I was in high-school. It was a super fun dog to have, definitely a conversation dog. He didn't have problems breathing as bad as I had heard and his slobbering was also less than expected. The big problem was that, we had an underground pool off our back deck and bulldogs cant swim so he had to stay away from that. Also, and maybe it was just a one time instance but he was also a pain to housebreak.


March 29th, 2011 at 1:43 PM ^

My dog in the last year developed an allergy that we tried different thigs on and it turned out to be food. Have to buy the $40 dollar a bag stuff but allergies are gone. Has to be grain-free. Wish I would have tried that first because it would have saved some trips to the vet. Good-luck.


March 29th, 2011 at 6:45 PM ^

Makes a huge difference in a dogs overall health. I get a little irritated with people who buy their dogs $12 (for 35lb) bags of food, made from all kinds of diseased animals throw-away parts and filler grains. I buy Science Diet, which actually isn't the best but is a very good overall food. Costs between $32-40 per bag depending on whether it's on sale.


March 29th, 2011 at 1:43 PM ^

I searched online and this is what I found:



  • If you suspect an allergy to inhalants, vacuum and dust frequently. Culprits include dust, mold spores, pollen grains, and household chemicals such as carpet cleaner and air fresheners. Treat your dog to a cool bath, and shampoo or rinse with aloe vera or oatmeal to help soothe the itchy skin. Your veterinarian may also recommend antihistamines or drugs to keep the itching at bay while the skin heals and the allergen is diminished.

  • Check your dog for fleas, as your dog could be suffering from flea bite dermatitis (an allergy to a flea's saliva). Careful grooming and frequent examinations, not only for fleas but flea droppings, can help alleviate this allergy. Ask your vet about flea products such as sprays, shampoos, topicals and pills. Again, an oatmeal or aloe vera bath can help soothe the itching.

  • Consider the possibility of contact allergies. Some dogs are allergic to bedding (cedar wood chips and wool are two possible offenders), grass, or plastic food bowls. If your dog has acne on his chin and uses a plastic feeding bowl, consider switching to a steel, glass or ceramic feeding bowl.


March 29th, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

don't really have any useful advice, but our dog also suffers from allergies, albeit not as severely.  our vet recently put woodson on hypoallergenic food (only $50 for a 17 lb bag!) and it seems to be helping.  he had been getting nasty, persistent ear infections and since switching foods he has been much better.  for other, less annoying allergy issues we just give him benadryl like yak attack mentioned. 

so even though it doesn't seem to be food-related, it might be worth trying different food.  it's an annoying process to isolate food allergies, but may be beneficial in the long run. 


March 29th, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

I did have one experience with an allergic reaction with my dog. She went out on the balcony, and when she came back in her face was swollen up just like Gus.' I was freaked out that her air passage would be cut off. The emergency vet told me that she had been stung by a bee, and gave her half a regular old benadryl, and that took care of it. I'm not sure about the cause,  but I would consider looking into benadryl as a cheaper alternative if it happens again. I also checked with my regular vet, and she said that benadryl is perfectly safe for dogs.


March 29th, 2011 at 1:59 PM ^

Have you gone with a specific non-grocery store brand of food?

For what it's worth, if you do decide to switch food, go with Professional brand -- you can get it at Chow Hound (in West Michigan) and around at some other smaller pet stores.  It's a really good price for what you get and it definitely will help with some allergies as it contains no corn, no soy and no wheat.  We used to feed our Lab Natural Balance but it was insanely expensive.  This is $33 for a 35-40 lb. bag (I can't remember what size it is).  Her coat is shiny and has no allergies.  She did have some reaction to her puppy chow when she was a puppy -- which was really cheap Purina brand.



March 29th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

As a follow-up, he's been eating the same food for nearly a year (Iams Large Breed), and the reactions haven't been near meal-time.  They have also come on very suddenly: This morning, he went from fine to Rocky at the end of Rocky II within five minutes.

We gave him Benadryl for a couple of days after the first reaction, and we're supposed to do so again for the next couple of days after this latest episode.

R Kelly

March 29th, 2011 at 2:24 PM ^

Your vet should be able to do allergy testing.  A friend's dog had some pretty serious allergy issues and they did an intradermal allergy test and found the source of the problem.  If i rememebr correctly, his problem had something to do with the way that the food was being stored and dust mites getting in.  The only caveat is that this may be kind of pricey, i don't know how much though.


March 29th, 2011 at 2:20 PM ^

for a possible water leak, etc.  his bed may be atop an allergen so when he is sleeping or when he lays down, he's triggering it. the only other suggestion is to remove a stimulus independently to see if its the cause (feed him with different bowls one week, different food the next, take away his bed next, etc.)


March 29th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

Try to eliminate food first.  Begin with lamb and rice only about a week.  It's a pain to cook and a bit expensive, but it's the fastest way to figure this out.  Once the dog is used to the diet, you can introduce one food ingredient at a time every few days while watching for a reaction.  (You may notice he'll might have some diarrhea in the very beginning.)

If all that is negative, check how he reacts to his dog treats.  Other than that, I've not dealt with any other kind of allergies.  I guess I'd look at shampoo and other topical products next.




Zone Left

March 29th, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

Are you still in South Bend? He could be allergic to a decaying city with an overblown sense of entitlement.

Also, Gus has the exact same blanket my dog has. Hopefully mine doesn't break out soon.


March 29th, 2011 at 2:56 PM ^

Try changing dog food brands until you find one that doesn't cause a problem.  My buddy has a Boston Terrier and he has to buy it a special kind of dog food thats like $20.00 for a small bag.

Six Zero

March 29th, 2011 at 3:56 PM ^

Does he chew at his paws?  That's the first sign.

Sometimes lawn treatments can do it-- and no, not just your own.  There's stories of yards four or five houses away that can mess with a dog.  But hey, that's just a story about dogs.


March 29th, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

He doesn't chew at his paws, and it isn't localized to any area.  Both occurences have been very sudden onset while he'd been inside for at least a couple of hours. 

I also haven't seen any lawn treatment around here recently, but we have been walking through a couple of new areas.  Again, though, this last one was like 14 hours after that walk.


March 29th, 2011 at 5:24 PM ^

Acute onset points away from allergies to the Iams, although I would change back to how you used to store his food and see if that solves it. At any rate, food trials take 8 weeks, unlike the other posters have suggested, and you can't give them *anything* but the hypoallergenic food during the trial. You can't just switch foods every week and declare victory when the dog goes a while without an allergic reaction. (My dog is allergic to a ton of stuff, including wheat, chicken, and rabies shots, so I have lots of experience here.)

My only decent thought is, like the vet's, spider or insect bites, given how fast it comes on and that it's not immediately after eating. I'm assuming that, if it were vaccine-related, your vet would know that.

In any case, your vet should give you an epi-pen or some kind of injectable steroid or benadryl. I'd demand as much the next time you have to take him in. They should be willing to show you how to use it.

Edit: here's a brief overview of acute allergic reactions in dogs: http://www.neamc.com/acute-allergic-reactions.pdf