Dogs can develop allergies that cause a wide range of symptoms, depending on which parts of their body are affected. Some breeds, such as golden retrievers, have a higher likelihood of having allergies than others.
Allergies are fairly common in dogs overall, with one in ten dogs developing them at some point during their life.
Golden retrievers have an increased chance of having certain kinds of allergies compared to other dog breeds. Knowing more about allergies in golden retrievers can help pet owners better understand why this happens, what symptoms to look for and what kinds of treatments are available.
What Causes Allergies in Golden Retrievers?
Some Golden Retrievers are born with a higher chance of developing allergies due to genetics. For example, golden retriever puppies with one or more parents who have allergies have a higher risk of also having allergies.
Allergic reactions occur when a dog’s immune system reacts to the presence of a substance it considers harmful, even though it isn’t. This exposure causes the immune system to react in different ways and produce symptoms in certain areas of the body.
Pollen, dust and other environmental triggers can cause allergies to occur in dogs. Other types of allergens that can affect dogs include certain food ingredients, medications, fleas, mold and cleaning products.
For example, some dogs experience allergic reactions after eating foods with certain ingredients, such as corn or wheat. That's why so many dog owners find insect based dog food helps their dog's allergies.
What Are Common Allergies in Golden Retrievers?
Golden Retrievers can develop any type of allergy that affects dogs. However, this breed is more prone to having certain kinds of allergies. These include the following:
- Skin allergies: Golden Retrievers have skin folds and thick coats that can make them more likely to have allergic reactions that affect the skin. These reactions commonly occur in certain areas, such as skin folds, ears, feet and belly. Golden Retrievers often develop skin allergies when they are between 1 and 3 years old, and these allergies can get worse with age.
- Food allergies: Golden Retrievers can develop allergies or sensitivities to ingredients found in some pet foods, such as corn or animal protein. Consuming foods with these ingredients can trigger reactions that affect their digestive system or their skin.
- Ear allergies: Golden Retrievers have floppy ears with a lot of hair growing around them. Ear allergies can affect the skin inside the ears, which can happen due to exposure to environmental allergens, food allergens or other allergens. Having ear allergies can make Golden Retrievers more prone to developing other ear problems, such as ear infections.
- Eye allergies: Golden Retrievers can have eye allergies if they’re allergic to certain substances, such as dust, fleas, pollen, cigarette smoke, perfumes or cleaning products. Some medications, such as flea shampoo, can also cause eye allergies to occur.
What Are Symptoms of Allergies in Golden Retrievers?
The symptoms of Golden Retriever allergies can vary, depending on which bodily system or organ is affected. Keep in mind that some allergens can affect more than one part of the body, such as food allergens that affect the skin and digestive system.
Being familiar with common signs and symptoms of different allergies in Golden Retrievers is important, so that pet owners can have their dogs diagnosed and treated.
- Digestive symptoms: Food allergies or intolerances can cause digestive symptoms in Golden Retrievers. Dogs with this type of allergy might have diarrhea, vomiting or other digestive problems. They might also have a reduced appetite or weight loss.
- Skin symptoms: Skin symptoms that occur in Golden Retrievers with allergies can differ. Golden Retrievers with a flea allergy might have red spots and itching in areas where flea bites occur, such as near the base of their tail. Golden Retrievers with a food allergy or environmental allergy might have excessive itching or licking in certain areas. These dogs might also rub at their face, chew their skin or develop patches of flaky skin. Some dogs end up with hair loss or sores due to skin allergies.
- Respiratory symptoms: Golden Retrievers with environmental allergies might experience respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing or sneezing. This can happen when they’re exposed to dust, pollen or other environmental triggers.
- Eye symptoms: Golden Retrievers with eye allergies might have red and watery eyes, as well as itching. These dogs might rub at their eyes, which can lead to inflammation and infections in some cases.
- Ear symptoms: Golden Retrievers with ear allergies might have redness inside their ears, along with itching. These dogs might paw at their ears frequently when symptoms occur.
- Other symptoms: Environmental allergens and other allergens can sometimes cause decreased energy levels in Golden Retrievers.
How to Diagnose Allergies in Golden Retrievers
Allergies in golden retrievers can be difficult to diagnose on your own. Since allergic reactions can gradually become more severe in some cases, such as with food allergies, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Allergic reactions, such as itching and scratching, can also lead to secondary skin infections or other health issues in golden retrievers. Your vet can help you determine what might be causing allergic reactions in your dog and recommend treatment.
Diagnostic tests that can be done to diagnose allergies in golden retrievers include saliva tests, blood tests and skin allergen tests. However, your vet might recommend an elimination diet if your dog has symptoms of a food allergy. During an elimination diet, you will need to have your Golden Retriever eat one kind of dog food for up to 12 weeks.
Feeding your dog a hypoallergenic food, such as Jiminy’s Cricket Crave, can provide plenty of nutrition while reducing the risk of allergic reactions. Your dog’s symptoms should ease up during the elimination diet. When this diet is done, you can choose to keep giving your dog the same food you used during the elimination diet.
Elimination diets can help you figure out which ingredients might be causing Golden Retriever allergies. However, determining other allergy triggers can be difficult. When you and your vet are unable to identify specific allergens, allergy treatment focuses on managing and easing symptoms instead.
How to Treat Allergies in Golden Retrievers
Treatment for allergies in Golden Retrievers ideally involves identifying and eliminating the allergen. For example, you might switch to a different cleaning product if your dog is allergic to the kind you currently use.
If your dog is allergic to dust mites, eliminating dust in your home as much as possible can help reduce allergic reactions. For dogs with food allergies, treatment involves switching to a hypoallergenic food or at least a food that does not contain ingredients they trigger reactions.
When no allergen can be found, your vet can guide you through symptomatic treatment. This involves treating or managing the symptoms your Golden Retriever is experiencing. You should follow your vet’s guidance for treating allergy symptoms.
Giving eye medication or rinsing your Golden Retriever’s eyes with sterile saline are treatments your vet might recommend for eye allergy symptoms. These treatments can help relieve redness and itching.
If your Golden Retriever develops frequent ear infections from ear allergies, your vet might recommend ear cleaning. Keeping your dog’s ears clean on a regular basis can help reduce the risk of infections.
For skin allergy symptoms, your vet might recommend washing your dog with oatmeal shampoo or a similar product to soothe irritated skin. Regularly washing your Golden Retriever’s coat and skin can help reduce exposure to environmental allergens, such as pollen.
Digestive System Treatment
Your vet might recommend ways to help ease digestive symptoms if an elimination diet isn’t effective. This might involve giving your Golden Retriever antihistamines or another medication or adding probiotics to your dog’s diet.