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Allergic reaction.

Species: Dog
Breed: Bernese Mountain Dog
Age: 2-5 years
Harley is having the following symptoms.

Shaking head regularly
licking paws
small amount of yellow crusties on the inside of the tips of his ears

Bad allergic reaction a couple of times a month for past 4 months(hives, itching). We usually treat with benadryl but have had to take him to the Emergency vet 2x for this. They ended up giving him IV doses of Benadryl.

He had the runs for a few days a couple of weeks ago but otherwise seems normal and his butt looks normal.

All 4 of our dogs are on Taste of the Wild Salmon. None of the other dogs have these issues so we have ruled out environmental.

What are your thoughts?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Harley is so uncomfortable. While I can't give you a diagnosis over the internet I'll give you my ideas on what you have described to me.

It certainly sounds like there is some type of allergy going on. It's unlikely to be because of food. Although food allergies can happen they only make up a small percentage of dog allergies. Just because the other dogs are ok, that doesn't rule out environmental allergies. For example, I may be allergic to pollen and my husband may not be. If we both went into a pollen field, I would show allergy symptoms but my husband likely won't.

Unfortunately with dogs, it is often really hard to know what they are allergic to. And...if we do find the cause it is often something we can't really control, like ragweed or some other common grass or weed.

I have found that for most dogs, giving benadryl tablets doesn't help that much with allergies. A benadryl injection can often help in severe cases but that's not something you would be repeating long term. If I'm suspecting long term allergies I will often put a dog on very small doses of steroids during allergy season. In my area, allergy season is right now!

With that being said, it sounds like these are acute allergy incidents. They may not be because of a grass or weed but could be because of something like a bee or wasp sting. I have seen some dogs that get allergic reactions like this repeatedly and often we don't know the cause.

If this is happening a couple of times per month you could talk to your vet about putting Harley on steroids for a period of time. There are some cases where a vet will prescribe an epi-pen, similar to when children have severe allergic reactions.

Hopefully that helps...but unfortunately I've had cases like this where it is very frustrating because we don't know the cause.

Please let me know if you have more questions.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.