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What are Nut Allergies?

Canines who develop allergies to foods such as nuts can experience itchy and swollen skin that can be quite uncomfortable. They also tend to develop chronic conditions caused by the body’s reaction to the histamine, such as wheezing, ear infections, and gas. An allergy is a response of the immune system to a protein that it sees as a threat, in this case, some form of nuts in the diet of the dog. In order to reliably determine which allergen is affecting your pet, an elimination diet is usually utilized. This diagnostic method can be time-consuming, but is the most effective manner to deduce which ingredient is causing the reaction. Although food allergies often trigger anaphylactic shock in humans, it is somewhat rarer in canines.

A nut allergy is an over-reaction of your dog's immune system to an unwelcome protein that is present in tree nuts or peanuts present in their diet.

Nut Allergies Average Cost

From 565 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Nut Allergies in Dogs

The redness and bumps characteristic of food allergies in canines are often found under the front legs, between the toes, or clustered around the face and groin. 

  • Bald patches
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Chronic gas
  • Chronically inflamed feet
  • Coughing 
  • Diarrhea
  • Face rubbing
  • Head shaking
  • Hives
  • Obsessive licking
  • Paw biting
  • Poor puppy or adolescent growth 
  • Skin infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

Types

Nut allergies can refer either to tree nuts or to peanuts, which are actually in the legume family: 

Tree Nuts

- Tree nuts would include nuts such as walnut, cashew, pistachio, and almond. Many nuts in this category can cause other life-threatening disorders and should be avoided. Walnuts, hickory nuts, and pecans can harbor a mold that contains tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause dangerous seizures in relatively small amounts, macadamia nuts contain an unknown neurotoxin, and black walnuts contain the toxin juglone. 

Peanuts

- Although their high fat content can cause pancreatitis if given too frequently, peanuts are a relatively safe occasional snack for dogs, usually offered in the form of peanut butter. It is important to check the ingredient label for sugar and sodium levels, as well as to ensure that the ingredient xylitol is absent as xylitol can cause a drop in blood sugars in dogs that is often fatal.

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Causes of Nut Allergies in Dogs

Food allergy

- A food allergy is a response of the canine’s immune system to defend itself against an amino acid that it perceives to be a threat. Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but some foods, such as beef, dairy, chicken, and eggs tend to cause allergies in canines more often than others. An allergic reaction doesn’t happen the first time an individual is exposed to the allergen but rather after repeated exposures. 

Food intolerance

-  Unlike an actual food allergy, a food intolerance does not involve the patient’s immune system. Intolerance to a food type is more likely to cause digestive symptoms than allergic responses do, and skin conditions may be less noticeable. Additional signs, such as gurgling sounds from the digestive system or changes in the consistency or color of the animals stools are common with a food intolerance. A food intolerance is often an indicator that an allergy is in the process of developing.

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Diagnosis of Nut Allergies in Dogs

The symptoms of an allergic reaction will prompt your veterinarian to collect skin scrapings from any affected areas to evaluate the skin cells for nuisances like mites, yeast infections, or disease. When these are not found on the dermal cells, then a food allergy may be suspected. An elimination diet is usually implemented to confirm the initial diagnosis, which involves changing the dog's food to either a diet of unseasoned human food or reduced ingredient commercial food.  

Novel ingredients are traditionally employed during an elimination diet, meaning that proteins and carbohydrates that are not common in the dog’s current food will replace their current diet. All of the ingredients in the current food should be avoided when determining the proper replacement ingredients. If the symptoms are triggered by an allergic reaction, then a properly implemented elimination diet will eventually eradicate the symptoms. During this time, your primary concern is to ensure that your dog does not consume any elements other than the food used for the elimination diet. A single treat with the problem protein can cause the allergy to resurface. Once the symptoms have been abolished, additional ingredients will be slowly added back into the patient’s regimen until the allergen or allergens are defined.

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Treatment of Nut Allergies in Dogs

Several weeks can pass before the elimination diet reveals the allergen to blame for the skin conditions, and during this time your pet may still experience lingering symptoms. Antihistamines may be recommended by your veterinarian to ease itching as well as corticosteroids to reduce swelling. Use of these treatments may also mask symptoms that would otherwise be obvious, making it harder to determine which particular ingredient in your dog’s diet is causing the reactions. For this reason, many veterinarians prefer to complete the elimination diet before applying medications designed to ease those symptoms. 

Secondary skin infections are a common occurrence when food allergies are present, and antibiotics may be prescribed to combat these developments. Once the allergen has been positively identified, the initial course of action is the total avoidance of the ingredient. This also means avoiding any toys or treats with the problem proteins as well such as nut-flavored chews and toys. Other supplements, such as Omega-3 oils and probiotics, are often suggested after the elimination diet is completed to further support the immune system. This will assist your canine’s body to handle any accidental exposure to allergens and to prevent the cultivation of new allergies.

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Recovery of Nut Allergies in Dogs

Although anaphylactic shock is uncommon with canine food allergies, it is not unheard of and can be fatal in a short amount of time. Keep your dog calm and transport them to the nearest veterinarian if the following symptoms develop:

  • Cold limbs
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Excessive drooling
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pale gums
  • Seizures
  • Sudden diarrhea
  • Sudden vomiting

If your canine family member has a more critical response to an allergen like nuts,  your veterinarian will probably write a prescription for an EpiPen, which you will be instructed to administer if your pet has a life-threatening response to an allergen in the future. Use of an EpiPen should always be followed by a trip to the emergency room, even if your dog appears to have fully recovered from the episode. Epinephrine is a short-acting drug, and the allergic reaction has been known to resume without proper medical treatment.

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Nut Allergies Average Cost

From 565 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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Nut Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Sweet pea

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

7 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Allergies, Rash

I think one of my small dogs ate some peanut shells and she's getting really itchy and has some rashes she just had a swollen eye but we took care of that but she scratching really bad is there any treatment for this and if so I also need to know how long does this type of allergy last and what medication should I use?

Jan. 22, 2018

Sweet pea's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, without seeing Sweet Pea, I can't diagnose or recommend any medications for her. If she is still scratching, she may need antihistamine or steroid therapy, and she should be seen by your veterinarian to be examined and determine what treatment might be necessary to stop her from being so itchy. I hope that she feels better soon.

Jan. 22, 2018

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Angelina

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Yorkshire Terrier

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Area Under Nose/ Allergy

My dog ate a few raw cashews which she had never ate and the next day developed a swollen pink area under her nose which she is constantly licking and trying to scratch. She even spent a day without eating. Before I realized about the cashews, I asked the vet he had recommended Neosporin, but my dog is constantly licking this area. She has never had an allergy. What could you recommend?

Jan. 15, 2018

Angelina's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without examining Angelina, I can't recommend anything as I haven't seen the area under her nose. I would be surprised if it were due to the cashews, however. Lesions on the nose are very difficult to treat topically, as they do lick everything off immediately - it would be a good idea to have her seen by your veterinarian, and they may be able to tell more what it might be, and prescribe any medications that might be necessary to resolve it. I hope that things go well for her!

Jan. 15, 2018

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Sharpie

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Labrador/ terrier

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

My Sharpie dog has small bumps all over his body from one on his muzzle, one by his eye, many on torso and a larger more pronounced bump on his back. There is no swelling besides the bumps by his eyes or muzzle, and no difficulty breathing. Trying to pin down a cause from this as it happened about 4 days ago as well. On Monday, we had Chinese food (notoriously fried in peanut oil) and gave him a couple crunchy noodles as as a piece of crust from an egg roll he had a few bumps within a few hours that went away on their own. Last night, I gave him a peanut, like I have done many times in the past. At 3 am, 4 hrs after the peanut, he woke me up from scratching. I gave him 2 25mg Benadryl and he was ok until this am. Now he has more. I contacted his vet, and they said because his weight, I can give up to 75 mg 3 times a day. He has a dairy allergy, but never a nut allergy. Am I jumping to conclusions or is this a viable possibility? Besides rushing to the emergency vet, he can’t be seen until Monday and today is Saturday. He’s eating, drinking, and going potty normal. Benadryl is obviously making him drowsy, but he ran in the back yard just fine before napping.

Dec. 9, 2017

Sharpie's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Dogs can develop allergies to foods that they have previously consumed, it is possible that the peanuts and peanut oil is causing an allergic reaction; you should give it a few days for the bumps to go down and for him to return to normal, once he is off the Benadryl you should give him a peanut again to see if the allergy recurs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 9, 2017

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Benson

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chihuahua / pitbull mix

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling In Mouth Nose And Eyes
Small Bumps On His Body

earlier today i found a hazelnut creamer container on the ground i think my puppy ate it and now his face is swollen around his mouth eyes and his nose he also has some small lumps on his body, but i'm not sure if it was the creamer or a scorpion sting to cause this, not quite sure what to do.

Oct. 27, 2017

Benson's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If you suspect that Benson may have been stung by a scorpion or is having an adverse reaction to ingesting some cream, either way you should visit your Veterinarian since his face is swollen and this may lead to breathing difficulties which should be managed as soon as possible before it starts causing a problem. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 27, 2017

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Phin

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Lab/GermanShorthair

dog-age-icon

18 months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling Of The Face

My lab mix has pronounced swelling around his mouth and eyes and a few raised spots (hives?) all over his body. He is acting and eating normally. I found a pecan shell on the floor where he was lying down. I gave him 1mg Diphenhydramine per lb of body weight. Do I have to take him to the vet if his symptoms do not get worse?

Sept. 6, 2017

Phin's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If Phin isn’t having any respiratory difficulties due to his mouth swelling or any other life threatening symptoms you may take a wait and see approach; Benadryl at a dose of 1mg/lb two to three times per day may help but if the reaction doesn’t go down or the symptoms get worse you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Sept. 6, 2017

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Skout

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Mix

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Rash
Itchy Skin

We have a lot of pecans in our yard this winter. Our dogs don't eat them, but have developed fairly serious skin conditions with rashes and hair falling out. Vets have not been helpful so far. It's it possible for a dog to have a contact allergy to pecans? Dog is currently on a restricted diet which has not changed his symptoms.

Nut Allergies Average Cost

From 565 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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