Understanding Hives In Dogs

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You've likely heard of hives in humans, but did you know dogs can develop them, too? Hives are generally an immune reaction to a perceived or real threat, and they tend to appear very quickly. In some cases, they disappear quickly on their own, but they will often need treatment. Even if your dog's hives disappear as quickly as they appeared, it's wise to have them checked over by a vet to try and establish what caused them. Common causes of hives in dogs include food or medication allergies, skin contact with toxic plants and reactions to topical products, such as shampoo.

Symptoms Of Hives In Dogs

The appearance of multiple red wheals is the most obvious sign of an outbreak of hives, and although they can occur anywhere on the body, in dogs they most commonly occur on the legs, abdomen, head and neck. Hives are really itchy, so your dog will be scratching constantly. Hives can also develop on the mucous membranes, and if your dog develops hives in its mouth it will drool excessively. Swelling can occur with hives, particularly in the case of an allergic reaction, and this swelling often occurs on the face.

Diagnosing And Treating Hives

Your vet will examine your dog to confirm they are presenting with wheals and not bites or a rash, both of which can have a similar appearance. They will then try to establish the cause of the hives by asking you about what your dog has come into contact with. They may carry out blood and urine tests to check for toxicity or inflammation and an allergy test to confirm whether the hives are a response to an undiagnosed allergy. Common food allergens, such as wheat or soy, are often found in dry dog food products, and dogs can develop allergies at any time in their lives.

Treatment will depend on the identified cause of the hives but may include oral or intramuscular antihistamines or corticosteroids to help bring down inflammation quickly. An adrenaline injection may be required in severe cases caused by an allergic reaction, particularly if breathing is impaired. Your vet may also recommend you use cold compresses on your dog's skin to soothe the hives and help bring some relief from itching. As with any medical condition, you should never give your dog any over-the-counter medications unless your vet directs you to do so.

If your dog breaks out in hives, contact veterinary services for advice.