Hives in Dogs-Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

When I brought Rose-a pocket pitbull-home, I had no idea about Hives and other allergic reactions. One evening, she began to play with the fresh flower bouquet I left on the table that afternoon, and within no time I saw these itchy red spots appearing all over her body. It was an alarming situation for me, but now I have understood the cause—she is allergic to Gladiolas.

Here’s a guide to all the new pet parents about causes, symptoms, and treatments of hives.

Types of Allergic Reactions:

There are different types of allergic reactions that lead to the formation of raised bumps all over the skin.

  • Angiodema: Subcutaneous bumps appear beneath the fatty layer of skin, and are similar to the size of hives, i.e., about five centimeters. They can occur along with hives or without them. They have itchy and burning sensation.
  • Atopy: Tiny bumps raised above the skin, with one centimeter in size, are also caused due to allergic reactions. They can develop into papules and inflamed areas.
  • Urticaria (Hives): They appear in the form of cutaneous bumps that are itchy, red, and swollen spots all over the body or found in small clusters in a specific area like around the neck, thighs, or face.

What are Hives?

Urticaria, which is commonly known as ‘hives,’ results from allergic reactions to a specific allergen—for which the dog shows hypersensitivity. A dog’s exposure to these allergens causes the immune system to react, and itchy, swollen, and red spots appear on the skin at particular places or all over the dog skin.

Hives do not have life-threatening effects but, if prolonged, they can cause serious troubles. These itchy spots are as irritating as a mosquito bite for humans, and dogs continue to scratch them, which can make the hives inflamed or cause ruptures—leading to dangerous skin infections. So, it’s necessary to treat them as soon as possible before things get worse. Sometimes, in extreme cases, swelling can occur in the nasal passages and throat, which makes the breathing of dog more difficult.

In severe conditions, round itchy bumps can join up together to form bigger masses.

What are the Causes of Hives?

Hives are caused due to different allergies that change into hives or exposure to specific allergens. There are various types of allergens to which dogs can be hypersensitive to, including:

  1. Insect bites or insecticides (applied topically or sprayed on plants)
  2. Reaction to Medicine
  3. Food allergy
  4. Vaccines
  5. Toxic Plants or grass allergy
  6. Chemicals in soaps and shampoos

What are the Symptoms of Hives?

Regarding diagnosis of hives, they are somewhat similar to other allergies except for the difference in size and severity of the problem. It is best to consult the vet to identify the symptoms and causes at first.

The symptoms of Hives besides itchiness and irritation are:

  1. Hairy, raised warts like bumps on skin
  2. Dryness of skin
  3. Hair loss at specific spots
  4. Oiliness in hair
  5. Bad odor from dog coat
  6. Difficulty in breathing
  7. Yellow skin patches
  8. Puffiness of eyes and face
  9. Rashes due to scratching
  10. Lesions and maybe ruptures (due to excessive scratching)

What is the treatment for Hives?

It is unbearable to see your pooch suffer from hives for even two minutes. When they suffer from allergies, we want them to get treated as soon as possible. Hives usually disappear within 24 to 48 hours of their first appearance.

For a first time occurrence of an allergic reaction, it is necessary for you to visit the vet. The vet will help you seek the reason for the allergy—the possible allergens to which your dog was exposed. The vet will instruct you about the ways to ease the swollenness and itchiness in dogs. Cold baths and icing the specific areas where the allergic reaction has sprouted, is an effective way to reduce the irritation and prevent your dog from excessive scratching.

Most often hives heal by itself, as a mosquito bite does. After a dog comes in contact with an allergen, bathing the dog immediately can help in the removal of irritating chemicals from the skin of the dog. But, if the problem persists, some antihistamines like Zyrtec or Benadryl are recommended as the best cure to prevent further damage. Dr. Jeff Werber, a well-known veterinarian as well as a medical journalist from California, suggests pet owners administer about one milligram of Benadryl per pound of dog weight, for home-based treatment of hives. In severe conditions, you can use corticosteroids for treating hives.

In case hives are caused due to reaction to specific ingredients in dog food, the vet can recommend the use of Milk of Magnesia for quick removal of irritable food from the digestive system of the dog.

There are many natural remedies for treating hives and soothing the itchiness associated with it. You can treat your dog by applying the cooked oatmeal paste on the affected area or by giving the dog an oatmeal bath. You can prepare chamomile tea or green tea using their tea bags and remove the tea bags once the drink is ready. Cool it down, and rinse the affected area with the tea.

Aromatherapy scents are also an effective and natural remedy for hives. Among the most effective essential oils are lavender, peppermint, and chamomile, which can help to alleviate the itching pain that’s constantly troubling your dog. However, the quantity of essential oils should have to be recommended by the vet because dogs have 10,000 times stronger sense of smell than humans. Even a little difference in required amount can create further trouble.

For some pet-parents, going all raw and natural regarding dog food diet has helped a lot. When no shampoo or soap works for the dog, you can try some homemade dog soaps and shampoos that are chemical free.

Final Verdict:

In case of Rose, Benadryl worked well as it does in most of the cases. However, some dogs can be allergic to antihistamines, so you need to consult the vet before administering any drug for your dog at home. The best cure for hives is to identify the cause and keep it away. I love Gladiolas, but I love Rose more!

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