If you notice your dog has raised, red bumps on their skin, they probably have hives. Though this can be a scary sight, hives are easily treatable and not something to worry about. There are several reasons why your dog may have developed hives, so we’re here to help you understand what they are and how to treat them.
Hives in Dogs
If your dog has hives, they are likely to be caused by an allergic reaction. Allergies can be triggered by many different things including food and the environment, although in many cases the exact cause is unknown. Hives are not dangerous and do not cause serious health issues like breathing problems or gastrointestinal distress.
Hives can be treated with medication, but if you’re curious about what causes them in dogs in the first place—and how to help prevent them—read on!
Causes of Hives in Dogs
Hives are a sign of an allergic reaction. Causes of hives in dogs include:
- Food allergies. Food allergies are more common in dogs than in people, and can be triggered by any food you feed your dog. If you feed your dog a brand new food suddenly and they start developing hives, it could be the food allergy.
- Environmental allergies. Dust mites and pollen from trees or grasses can cause an allergic reaction that leads to hives for some dogs. Again, this is not as common as food allergies among dogs but does happen sometimes!
- Stressful events like thunderstorms or getting moved to a new home can bring out reactions in sensitive pups!
In addition to these causes of hive-like symptoms in dogs, there are also several other possible causes:
Symptoms of Hives in Dogs
Hives are raised, itchy red welts that appear suddenly. They can appear anywhere on the body but are most often found on the face and legs. The welt might look like a mosquito bite and is usually about 1/8 inch across.
If your dog has hives, she’ll likely be itchy and will probably scratch or lick herself to relieve some of the pain. If a hive remains inflamed for several days after it appears, it may become infected and cause secondary infections in your dog’s skin if not treated properly by you at home or by an emergency veterinarian provider if necessary.
Treating Your Dog’s Hives
The first thing you should do is make sure your dog is comfortable. You want to remove any external stimuli that are causing the hives, such as clothing or blankets. If there’s a situation where you can’t take off the blanket or outfit, wipe your dogs paws with water and then use a blow dryer on low heat so it doesn’t burn them.
Next, try giving your dog some antihistamines like Benedryl (diphenhydramine). Do not give Benadryl without talking to your vet first because it might interact negatively with other medications your dog may be on.
If this doesn’t work and the hives persist for several days after starting treatment, call your vet immediately! They will likely prescribe steroids which should clear up the hives in 2-3 days if they are due to allergies rather than being caused by an infection or cancerous tumor in their body (though these things can cause allergic reactions as well!).
Hives are easily treatable, so don’t worry about your dog!
While hives are often a scary sight, they’re not dangerous or even contagious. Hives are not an allergic reaction and are not a sign of an underlying medical condition. If your dog is vomiting, lethargic, having difficulty breathing, or showing other signs that indicate a serious problem, call your vet immediately. For the vast majority of dogs with hives (hyperesthesia), the best treatment is to give them Benadryl.
We hope this article has helped you feel more prepared to deal with hives in your dog. As always, if your dog has any other unusual symptoms or behavior, it’s best to see a veterinarian. With that said, hives normally aren’t serious and will go away on their own. If they really bother you, take some time to find the cause and avoid it (or talk to your vet about treatment options).