Can Dogs Get Allergies in Their Eyes?

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Many people are allergic to dogs, but can dogs be allergic too? It is a common scenario to see a person with a dog allergy suffering from watery, itchy, eyes but what happens when the dog has the itchy, watery, eyes? It turns out dogs get allergies too, and to many of the same things that people are allergic to, foods, dust, pollens molds and insect bites. An allergic reaction is an inappropriate immune system reaction to a substance in your dog's environment or diet.

Can Dogs Get Allergies in Their Eyes?

YES!

When allergic reaction affects the eyes, redness, itchiness and watery eyes can be the result, just as in humans. It is irritating for dogs, just as for humans, and both may be seen to rub their eyes, causing more inflammation and secondary eye infections as a result. Because dogs love being outside, and love to eat, it is not commonly suspected that food or environmental factors such as pollen would make them sick, but it can and dogs suffer from allergies to their diet and seasonal allergies more frequently then you would think.

Does My Dog Have Eye Allergies?

A dog experiencing eye allergies may try to scratch their eyes or surrounding skin by rubbing on furniture or scratching with their paws to relieve the itching. They may also have clear, watery discharge from their eye, which may be accompanied by inflammation of the eye or associated tissues. They may squint or sneeze. Colored discharge is indicative of an eye infection, which may develop secondary to an eye allergy but is not a symptom of the allergy itself. The eye may appear red from the irritation or the allergy.

Allergens that affect the eyes in dogs include dietary components such as food additives, preservatives or carbohydrate content, or pollen, mold, dust, and insect bites. Even medications can trigger allergic reactions that affect the eye. Inhaled allergens from pollen or mold are especially common and may be experienced seasonally just as in their human counterparts.

Your veterinarian will examine a dog with watery, irritated, eyes to determine the cause. Other conditions such as a foreign object in the eye, dry eye, blocked tear ducts, or cherry eye may account for discharge and irritation, and need to be ruled out before a determination of allergies in the eye is made. Your veterinarian can also test for allergies by performing a histamine reaction test or looking for antibodies in a blood sample.

 

Learn more about seasonal allergies in dogs here.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Eye Allergy?

Most allergy reactions, especially those involving your dog’s eyes, will be treated with antihistamines recommended by your veterinarian. Antihistamines block the immune system’s histamine reaction to the allergen, thereby reducing the allergic reaction. Steroids may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation, and topical eye ointments to reduce discomfort may be useful in stemming an allergic reaction.

If the source of the allergic reaction can be determined, avoiding or reducing exposure may be the most effective way to prevent the reaction. If a dietary source is suspected, changing your dog's diet to eliminate allergens such as carbohydrates or chemical preservatives and additives may eliminate the allergy. Vacuuming your home, cleaning bedding and removing weeds and debris from your yard that could be causing allergen exposure, will help reduce allergy symptoms. In addition, you can wash your dog's eyes with camomile water and humidify the air to help eye allergy symptoms. If parasites or insects such as fleas are a contributing factor to allergies, eliminating them from your dog's environment and treating your dog for fleas with baths and medication will reduce allergy symptoms. Removing hair from around your dog's eye that may trap dust and pollen may also be effective.

There are many supplements available to support immune system functioning in your dog which may reduce allergic symptoms. A holistic veterinary practitioner can advise you. A combination of changes to the environment, medications, and natural treatments may be most successful for reducing allergy symptoms in the eye.

How are Eye Allergies in Dogs Similar to Those in Humans and Other Pets?

Dogs, humans, and other animals have many similarities in their allergic reactions.

  • They are caused by immune system overreaction to a substance they are exposed to.

  • Many causes such as pollen, dust, and mold spores are the same for all animals and seasonal allergies are common.

  • Many of the treatments such as antihistamine and steroids are the same for humans and other animals.

How are Eye Allergies in Dogs Different from Those in Humans and Other Pets?

There are some differences in dog allergies compared to humans.

  • Dogs may require high protein, low carbohydrate diets to mirror their natural diets or allergies may occur.

  • Dogs are more often plagued by fleas, which may contribute to allergic reactions.

  • Dogs more frequently experience allergic reactions on the skin; eye allergies do occur, but not as frequently as in humans.

Case Study

It’s ragweed season and a pet owner and their dog are both experiencing runny, itchy eyes and sneezing. It is not an uncommon scenario as this seasonal allergy is common to many animals and people. Both the pet owner’s physician and the dog’s veterinarian prescribe antihistamines to deal with the seasonal allergy. With the use of prescribed medication and the passing of the season allergy symptoms dissipate... until next year, that is!