Understanding Canine Allergic Reactions

Beat the itch!

CockerSpaniel.org Volunteer Staff

1/16/20242 min read

Types of Allergies

Environmental Allergies

  • Cocker spaniels can be sensitive to environmental factors like pollen, mold, dust mites, and grass. Common symptoms include itching, redness, sneezing, and watery eyes.

Food Allergies

  • Some cocker spaniels may develop allergies to certain ingredients in their diet, such as proteins or grains. Common allergens include chicken, beef, and dairy. Symptoms of food allergies can manifest as digestive issues, skin problems, or chronic ear infections.

Contact Allergies

  • Skin irritation may occur when a cocker spaniel comes into contact with certain materials, such as certain fabrics, cleaning products, or grooming products.

Common Signs of Allergies

Itching and Scratching

  • Persistent itching, particularly around the ears, paws, and face, is a common sign of allergies. Excessive scratching may lead to skin inflammation and infections. Their toes may stain red from constant licking. They may also smell yeasty due to secondary infection. Both environmental and food allergies can lead to itching.

Redness and Irritation

  • Allergic reactions often cause redness and irritation on the skin, ears, or paws. Checking your cocker spaniel's coat and ears for any changes in color or texture is crucial.

Digestive Issues

  • Food allergies can manifest as digestive problems, including diarrhea, vomiting, or changes in stool consistency.

Chronic Ear Infections

  • Cocker spaniels are already predisposed to ear infections, but allergies can exacerbate the issue. Chronic ear infections may indicate an underlying allergic condition.

Managing Allergies

Veterinary Consultation

  • If you suspect your cocker spaniel has allergies, consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Dietary Management

  • In cases of food allergies, your veterinarian may suggest an elimination diet to identify and eliminate the allergen. Transitioning to a hypoallergenic, limited-ingredient, or novel protein diet may be necessary.

Environmental Control

  • Minimize exposure to environmental allergens by keeping your home clean, using air purifiers, and avoiding outdoor activities during peak pollen seasons.

Regular Grooming

  • Regular grooming, including baths and brushing, helps remove potential allergens from your cocker spaniel's coat. You may need to bathe more frequently than typically recommended, up to once per week, to keep allergies under control. Use hypoallergenic shampoos and grooming products. Your veterinarian may also prescribe medicated shampoo to treat any secondary skin infections.

Medication and Immunotherapy

  • In some cases, medication such as antihistamines or corticosteroids may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. Immunotherapy, through allergy shots or oral drops, can also be an effective long-term solution.


Allergies in cocker spaniels can be managed effectively with proper care and attention. Understanding the signs, identifying triggers, and working closely with your veterinarian will contribute to a healthier, happier life for your furry companion. By taking proactive measures, you can ensure that your cocker spaniel enjoys a comfortable and allergy-free existence as a cherished member of your family.


Like humans, dogs, including cocker spaniels, can suffer from allergies. Recognizing the signs and understanding the triggers is essential for providing optimal care to your furry friend.