Zen and the Art of Dog

Dog Allergies: Why Is My Dog Sneezing?

For our stumpy-legged mutt Benji, it started with sneezing. He would sneeze so forcefully, his nose would hit the floor. And it usually became a sneezing fit with him sneezing several times in a row. 

Then came the itching on his paws, belly, and where his legs met his torso. Benji would chew his paws raw and scratch his belly until his fur fell off exposing red patches of inflamed skin.

We rubbed coconut oil on his paws and skin. We brushed him daily and wiped his paws after he went outside. We gave him oatmeal baths. His sneezing and itching persisted and despite all the bathing and grooming, he started to get stinky. After Dr. Google failed to treat Benji, we brought him to the vet. Why was my dog sneezing so much? Why was my dog so itchy? Why did my dog stink to high heaven?

Benji, like so many humans, has allergies. 

Here are some allergy treatments we considered for Benji (Luckily his allergies were not severe enough to need all of these). Please consult with your vet before trying any of these allergy treatments:

Oral Medication

The vet suggested we start by making one change at a time and to stick with the change for a few weeks to see if it was improving his condition. We started his treatment plan by giving Benji an over the counter antihistamine. Your vet might recommend a brand like Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl, Allegra, etc–but make sure when you are purchasing that it does NOT end with -D (like Claritin-D) which contains pseudoephedrine. Follow your vet’s recommended dosage. The antihistamine helped with Benji’s sneezing and itchiness.


We were feeding Benji a grain-free, dry dog food. Most dry dog food formulas have multiple protein sources. Because of Benji’s allergies, our vet suggested we switch to a single protein, dry dog food. We briefly explored a raw diet but with two young children and three dogs to feed, we ruled it out. Changing out his food and adding a probiotic source to his diet helped with his stinkiness.


Probiotics promote the growth of “good” gut bacteria to help with digestion, absorption of nutrients, and a variety of other health benefits. Adding probiotics to your dog’s diet can be as simple as adding a scoop of plain, low-fat yogurt to your dog’s food. They also come in powder, capsules, and chews. 

Severe Allergies

If you have tried the above and nothing has worked, ask your vet about Apoquel or Cytopoint. Apoquel is a pill and cytopoint is an injection used to treat severe allergies in dogs. Tell your vet about everything you’ve tried and ask about the potential side effects of each treatment. Luckily for us, Benji’s allergies have been maintained with the above treatments.

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