Our canine pals can also suffer from hives, or urticaria. When the condition is only superficial, i.e., it only affects the skin, it can be easily remedied at home. Read on to learn more about dog hives, causes, and treatments.
What are Hives and What Causes Them?
Hives are red, swollen, and itchy welts that appear on the skin, usually as a result of an allergic reaction. Your dog can develop hives anywhere on his body, and may even appear on his throat, ears, face, lips, and tongue.
Common causes of dog hives include food allergens, insect bites, pollen, molds, medications, and vaccinations.
Unless the characteristic welts appear on the belly or other areas with less hair, your dog’s coat may make them difficult to spot right away. What you might notice are small tufts of hair that appear raised. If you notice your pet scratching and licking his skin more than usual, you should check what’s causing the itching or skin irritation.
Especially if Fido begins itching or if his face starts swelling after a trip to the park or after giving him a new treat, and if you find small, red bumps on his skin, it’s likely that he has hives.
Dog Hives - Management and Treatment
A lot of times, hives disappear on their own — typically a few hours after they appear. If they persist, it could be because your dog is still exposed to the allergen, such as insect bites or mold.
Constant scratching can make the condition worse, so you should take steps to relieve the itching and help your canine buddy feel more comfortable. Here are a few remedies you can try.
- Aloe vera. If you have the plant, just slice off a piece and apply the gel directly to the affected areas. You may also chill extra slices in the fridge to enhance the soothing effect of the aloe. You can also purchase aloe gel at any beauty shop or drugstore. Keep it stored in the fridge so it’s always ready for emergency use.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal has natural soothing properties that can quickly relieve itching and redness. Place one cup of oatmeal in a blender and blend it until it turns into powder; mix this into a bucket of warm water. Slowly pour the solution over Fido, massaging him to let the oatmeal water really soak through. Leave it on for at least 15 minutes, and then rinse him off. Or make an oatmeal paste by using equal parts powdered oatmeal and water, and then apply the paste directly to his skin. Another option is oatmeal dog shampoo.
- Avoid irritants. Until the hives go away, do not expose your dog’s skin to irritants, such as scented soaps, dog perfume, and even the sun, so as not to worsen the itching and redness.
If your dog has swelling on his face, such as his lips and cheeks, the allergic reaction may be more serious and could worsen. The swelling could eventually affect his throat, which would compromise his breathing and lead to anaphylaxis. While hives do not usually cause life-threatening complications, any swelling around the face should be closely monitored. To be safe, take him to the vet so he can be given proper treatment.
Hives and other allergic reactions are often treated with antihistamines and corticosteroids. If your pet is allergy-prone, get your vet’s advice on over-the-counter antihistamine drugs you can stock up on for Fido. These drugs typically take effect within minutes of administration.
If your dog’s rash persists even with treatment, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. There could be a more serious underlying cause that will need proper diagnosis. Likewise, if the rash is accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and lethargy, your dog would need emergency medical attention.
Dog Hives - Final Thoughts
Dog hives are usually not a serious problem; they often go away without treatment and only cause itching for an hour or so. But you can still help your dog feel more comfortable by giving him relief from the itching.
Hives may also be just the first stage of a more severe allergic reaction. If your dog develops swelling around the face, and especially if he has difficulty breathing, take him to the vet immediately.