Hives in Dogs - Causes and Treatments

Hives in dogs are due to an allergic reaction that leads to itching.
Hives in Dogs - Causes and Treatments

Last update: 25 October, 2019

Hives in dogs is a skin condition usually due to an allergic reaction, and it appears in the form of itchy reddish welts. This condition is common and usually disappears on its own after a few minutes.

But, there are some serious cases where you must immediately take your dog to a vet so they can diagnose it and provide treatment. This is usually an oral or injectable antihistamine.

Causes of hives in dogs

Hives in dogs.

Skin problems in dogs are often due to environmental allergens and commonly appear in specific areas of their bodies such as their faces, ears, and legs. They can also appear on the base of the tails, under their arms and in their groin areas.

These kinds of problems present themselves either as swelling, lumps, or hives that itch and burn and lead to discomfort and agitation. Thus, hives are a hypersensitive response to external agents such as:

  • Allergies to certain types of food, vaccines or medications
  • Contact with toxic plants such as nettles or ivy
  • The bites of fleas, lice, and mites often cause skin irritations and some dogs are particularly sensitive to these bloodsuckers
  • Infections
  • Other allergies
  • There’s a type of hives that happens when in contact with extreme temperatures
  • Skin disorders

Hives in dogs

Hives are very striking and so you can easily detect them in your animal. They’re much more visible in short-haired dogs because you can see how these swell in the affected areas. They give the coat a grainy, reddish appearance.

Hives don’t always lead to itching, but it’s quite evident when they do as the dog begins to scratch rather intensely which worsens their skin condition. This disorder is a lot more common in breeds with shorter hair.

How to treat hives in dogs?

A puppy scratching itself.

It’s very important to figure out what’s causing the hives in your animal so that you can prevent them from happening in the future. For example, if it’s something they ate then you should eliminate it from their diet. Similarly, if it’s a plant then you must find it and remove it or just keep the dog away from that area.

Your dog might need long-term treatment, depending on the severity of the hives and how often they occur.

However, once hives trigger, the best thing you can do is to try to contain the itching and prevent the animal from scratching excessively. You can help relieve the itching with a warm bath. Use either a shampoo for sensitive skin or add oatmeal to the water.

Atopic dermatitis in dogs

But, if the hives and itching are here to stay and lesions continue to appear on the dog’s skin, then the animal might have atopic dermatitis. If this is the case then you’ll need to have stricter control in everything that concerns them, beginning with their diet and their environment.

Again, you must consult the vet so that they can make a proper diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment.

There are some allergy tests that can detect the elements that produce them in a dog. They include environmental agents such as certain types of pollen, plants, and mites, and also foods such as meats, fish, rice, wheat or eggs.

In addition, there are some immunotherapy treatments available for the treatment of allergies, which consist of monthly vaccines.

Anaphylactic shock

If the hives reaction doesn’t subside and you notice that your dog’s condition worsens, then perhaps they’ve gone into anaphylactic shock. If this is the case then you must take them immediately to your nearest emergency veterinarian center. The animal will, most likely, require hospitalization until their crisis resolves. They’ll also need serum therapy and intravenous medication.

Time is of an essence when it comes to these problems so act quickly. You shouldn’t “prescribe” and administer medications on your own.

A dog’s skin is their first barrier against infections, parasites, and diseases. So, it’s very important for it to be healthy to maintain a strong immune system. In addition to have good hygiene, you can also help your dog by providing it with a complete diet and nutritional supplements.

For example, food rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is particularly beneficial to animals prone to dermatitis and allergic skin reactions.

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