I recently came across an interesting question about the connection between allergies and anxiety in dogs. The questioner asked: Can someone point me in the right direction for some good information about the relationship between allergies and stress/anxiety? I’ve read a couple of snippets here and there about how anxiety can lead to what we observe as an allergic reaction. My allergic boy is pretty high strung and nervous. I’ve tried some homeopathic supplements with little success so far. I’m curious to find out more information about this relationship.
Allergies in dogs cause more than physical discomfort. In some dogs, they can cause mental discomfort as well. Severe and protracted allergies in dogs can and do cause anxiety secondary to their discomfort.
The Connection Between Anxiety and Allergies in Dogs
While there is no direct clinical connection between anxiety and allergies in dogs – meaning that the mechanism of allergies do not directly cause anxiety – there is a direct correlation between anxiety and allergy symptoms, most especially in instances of dogs with long-term allergic issues.
Everything is Connected
While the mechanism of allergic reaction itself does not affect the brain, the symptoms secondary to allergies in dogs can lead to anxiety issues. Think about yourself and how you feel if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction. Not only are you suffering physically from the symptoms of your reaction, you are suffering mentally because you’re so uncomfortable. The same can hold true for dogs.
With the “everything is connected” thought in mind, let’s take a look at the overlapping symptoms of allergies and anxiety.
- Panting due to physical discomfort
- Pacing due to physical discomfort
- Excessive licking and chewing due to itching
- Panting secondary to physical discomfort from allergies
- Pacing secondary to physical discomfort from allergies
- Excessive licking and chewing as a symptom of anxiety
As you can see, several symptoms of allergies in dogs and anxiety in dogs are almost the same. This means that not only can allergies cause anxiety, anxiety and allergies can feed off of one another. A prime example of this is a dog with long term allergy and skin issues.
In a case like this, the dog is suffering from physical discomfort due to allergies. The pain and itching from the symptoms of its allergies causes anxiety because it cannot find relief. This anxiety leads to an increases stress level. As we all know, stress exacerbates many problems, including allergies. So what we have is a vicious cycle of allergies leading to anxiety leading to a worsening of allergic symptoms.
How to Alleviate Anxiety Due to Allergies in Dogs
The only real way to eliminate the anxiety associated with chronic allergies is to address the allergies. The first step is to contact your vet to determine if you dog has food allergies, environmental allergies, or a combination of the two. From there your vet can help you formulate a plan to address the allergies and get your dog some relief.
Solutions for Food Allergies
In the case of food allergies, your vet will most likely recommend beginning with a corticosteroid shot to reduce skin inflammation immediately. In addition, you will most likely be advised to put your dog on a grain-free hypoallergenic diet. These diets are key to reducing or eliminating allergy symptoms for allergies in dogs from food.
Solutions for Environmental Allergies
For dogs with environmental allergies, the initial treatment will again most likely include a corticosteroid shot to reduce inflammation immediately. In addition, your vet may put your dog on a flash dose of oral corticosteroids. You’ll also want to begin wiping your dog’s feet with baby wipes whenever they come in from outside to reduce pollen on their pads. In addition a weekly bath with a corticosteroid shampoo may be advised.
Addressing Allergies in Dogs Also Addresses Anxiety
Whatever type of allergies your dog has, addressing them is the key to eliminating the anxiety associated with allergies in dogs. If your dog is showing any symptoms of allergies, get them to the vet immediately. Even if they don’t have anxiety, you’ll want to address their allergies right away. Even without anxiety, long term allergies in dogs can be terribly uncomfortable.