Hives, medically known as urticaria, are an allergic reaction to certain allergens which can be foods, medicines, insect bites, chemicals, etc.
Hives usually appear suddenly and are small, round, raised bumps on the skin. The hair sticks out in little patches and sometimes the whole face (especially the eyelids and muzzle) will swell as well. Facial swelling can cause itching.
Canine hives usually appear within 20 to 30 minutes after exposure to a certain allergen and disappear within 24 hours.
Symptoms of Dog Hives
As described above, hives appear as small, round, raised bumps on the skin of the face and other parts of a dog’s body. The hair over the bumps stands up and sticks out in small patches.
There may be swelling and itching, so your dog may scratch and lick the affected area.
In severe cases, hives may cause swelling in the throat, making it difficult for the dog to breathe and swallow.
If your dog has a swollen face and has difficulty breathing, take him to the vet immediately! It’s an emergency! You should also take your doggie to the vet if the hives do not disappear in 24 hours.
Causes of Dog Hives
One of the most common causes of hives in dogs is insect bites and stings. Other possible causes include:
- Certain Medications: Some medications, such as penicillin, tetracycline, and other antibiotics, may cause allergic reactions to some dogs. The result may be an outbreak of hives on the body.
- Vaccines: Some dogs may also have allergic reactions to some vaccines. If your dog has a history of allergies to some vaccines, be sure to let your vet know.
- Topical Treatments: Some topical treatments, such as topical insecticides (e.g. flea and tick control meds) and medicated soaps, contain rather harsh chemicals that may cause skin irritations and hives in some dogs, especially those with sensitive skin.
- Poisonous Plants: Plants like poison ivy can also cause hive outbreaks in dogs.
Conventional Treatment of Canine Hives
Conventional treatment usually involves the use of an antihistamine such as Benadryl. In severe cases, corticosteroids may be prescribed.
If an acute case of canine hives is caused by ingestion of certain food, a dose of Milk of Magnesia can be used to remove the food quickly from the digestive system.
If an acute case of hives is caused by certain topical insecticide or medicated shampoo, bathe the dog and rinse thoroughly to remove the chemical from the dog’s skin and hair.
Home Remedies for Dog Hives
Minor outbreaks of canine hives without any swelling can be treated using home remedies. The purpose is to relieve the itchiness and make the dog feel more comfortable.
Oat is soothing and can be used as a topical treatment for hives. If you have oatmeal at home, just boil some in water until it forms a wet paste. Let it cool and apply it directly onto the hives.
Alternatively, if you have green tea bags, steep a couple in 2 cups of hot water. Discard the teabags and let the tea cool down. Pour the cooled tea on affected areas.
Also, many dog owners have used apple cider vinegar to bathe their dogs with hives with great success!
Prevention of Hives in Dogs
Avoidance is the best way to prevent hives in dogs. If you know that your dog is allergic to certain substances, such as certain food items, medicines, or vaccines, such items should be avoided at all costs. Your vet should also be notified especially if your dog is allergic to some drugs or vaccines.
Dogs who develop hives easily usually are hypersensitive to allergens, due among other things to a compromised immune system. Supplements such as fish oil, vitamins C and E can be beneficial for your dog’s skin and allergies. Ask your vet for recommendations.