It’s important to understand that, as in humans, dog allergies are lifelong conditions that can never be “cured”. It’s just part of each dog’s genetic make-up. Allergies can be seasonal, like hayfever, or a reaction to stimuli like dust mites. However, they can be carefully managed using a combination of therapies recommended by your vet.

Atopy, or atopic dermatitis is a very common skin condition in dogs, caused by an allergic reaction to the likes of pollen, dust mites or certain foods. It will make your dog's skin very itchy, so watch out for scratching and chewing at themselves, because this often leads to trauma of the skin and secondary bacterial infections which make your dog even itchier. Treatments may include special shampoos and skin creams or lotions, *medication to relieve itching, antibiotics for bacterial infections and even immunotherapy vaccines to desensitise your dog to the allergens that cause the problems.

While food allergies are not as common as atopy, they can affect your dog at any age. Oddily enough, most allergic reactions are to foods that a dog has been eating for a long time. If your dog has an immediate adverse reaction to a new food, it’s probably not an allergy, because it takes more than one exposure to produce an allergic reaction. The signs are very similar to those of other types of allergies, so it's not always easy to tell the difference. Signs to look out for include: itchy skin, especially around the face, paws and ears, ear infections, self-inflicted skin wounds, unpleasant skin odour, excessive scaling, red bumps or pimples, diarrhoea and vomiting (quite rare). Before you have expensive tests done, try a home elimination test: look for reactions after your dog has eaten food more than once, feed your dog a diet they haven’t been previously exposed to twice. If you’re still stumped, consult your vet.