7 Common Types of German Shepherd Allergies (And How to Treat Them)

Categorized as Health
German Shepherd allergies

Just like any dog breed, German Shepherd dogs are also prone to getting different types of allergies. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re in constant pain or discomfort for life – there are many types of medication and treatments that can help your dog return to normal life quickly and with a minimum amount of fuss.

The most common 7 types of allergies you could see in German Shepherd dogs are:

  1. Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  2. Human Food Allergies
  3. Dog Food Allergies
  4. Environmental Allergies
  5. Home Allergies
  6. Bug Allergies
  7. Drug Allergies

1. Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea Allergy Dermatitis is a very common form of allergy in dogs. In fact, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, flea bite hypersensitivity is the most prevalent dermatologic disease of domestic dogs in the United States.

As the name suggests, Flea Allergy Dermatitis is a skin allergy caused by fleas. The flea bites into the skin of the dog and releases saliva. This saliva contains allergenic proteins that cause irritation to the dog.

The symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis include itching and scratching at the itchy, irritated area. The dog will often scratch himself until the skin starts to develop sores, which can further lead to infection in some instances.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis is extremely itchy, and dogs suffering from this rarely want to keep any of their body still. This means that even when you are trying to treat your dog for fleas, they will often try to run away or scratch themselves before you have treated them.

How to Treat Flea Allergies?

There are many ways to treat Flea Allergy Dermatitis in dogs. However, prevention is always better than cure. If your dog has a flea allergy and starts showing symptoms, the first thing you should do is get rid of any fleas on them as quickly as possible – this can be done by bathing your dog with appropriate and effective flea medication or by using a special topical flea treatment.

If your dog’s allergy has become really bad and they’re scratching at their skin often, contact a veterinarian to discuss what medication would be best for them. For quick relief, your vet will likely prescribe steroid medicines. These medicines can be used for short-term relief while getting rid of the fleas and treating the skin condition.

Once your dog’s flea allergy dermatitis has been treated, there is a chance that they will develop it again. Even if you prevent all contact with the fleas in their environment, there is still often a possibility that some of them could find their way back onto your dog.

To minimize the possibility of your dog getting bitten down to the skin again, it’s recommended that you treat your dog once a month with flea preventative – this will ensure that his body is protected against fleas for the next month at least.

2. Human Food Allergies

Although many people like to believe that dogs are loyal and never turn their backs on the family, it does happen if you give them human food. Many dogs can develop a serious allergy to certain foods even if they’ve been eating them for years without any problems at all. An example of this is when a human gives their dog meat that has been seasoned with onion.

If your dog is allergic after eating human foods, the first thing you will notice is digestive problems. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the dog and the severity of his allergy.

The most common symptom is diarrhea right after eating the food they are allergic to. Other symptoms include vomiting, excess gas, abdominal pain, lack of energy, and weight loss. Some dogs can also develop additional problems due to their allergies, including skin conditions or infections.

Your dog is not going to show any dramatic symptoms the first time they eat it, but if they have eaten it many times before, they become more sensitive to it and will start to react strongly.

How to Treat a Human Food Allergy?

If you believe that your German Shepherd might have developed a human food allergy, you must identify and eliminate the food that is causing it.

You can do this by eliminating all foods from your Shepherd’s diet for a period of time, then start reintroducing them one at a time to see if any cause negative reactions in them.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to pinpoint which food is the cause of the allergy, as some dogs are allergic to one or a few types of human foods while others are allergic to just about every type of food you can think of. In this case, it’s best to ask your vet to conduct allergy tests to find out which food is the cause.

3. Dog Food Allergies

There are many different dog foods on the market today that claim to do all kinds of things; prevent allergies, reduce shedding, promote healthy skin and coat, etcetera. It’s hard to keep up with which ones really work and which don’t!

Just like in people, some ingredients in dog food can cause an allergic reaction in certain dogs, just like the human body can have an allergic reaction to specific foods. The most common dog food allergens are protein sources, such as beef, lamb, chicken, and chicken eggs.

If your dog experiences a loss of appetite, excessive itching and scratching, hair loss, vomiting, diarrhea, or constant wheezing and sneezing – you may have some clues that they are allergic to their food.

How to Treat Dog Food Allergies?

If you suspect your German Shepherd has a food allergy, first try strictly implementing the diet prescribed by your veterinarian. Dog food allergies can also be caused by preservatives and artificial ingredients in foods, so look for natural products without these additives whenever possible. Then, eliminate the common food allergens from your dog’s diet for 6 weeks. Then, if their symptoms begin to go away, you can add one food type back in at a time and see if they have an allergic reaction to any of them.

4. Environmental Allergies

Some plants such as ragweed and bottlebrush can cause itchy paws and ears, skin irritation on their stomachs and faces, sneezing, and eye irritation.

How to Treat Plant Allergies?

If your dog has been diagnosed with a plant allergy, you want to keep your dog away from plants that may cause allergies for them. If you’re walking in an area where there are lots of different types of plants, then carefully check their paws and body regularly to make sure they don’t have any allergic reactions to the plants.

In the case of mild-to-moderate allergies, you may want to try giving over-the-counter allergy medications, such as Benadryl. You can give these regardless of the types of allergies. However, I recommend speaking with your veterinarian first to make sure this is appropriate for your dog.

5. Home Allergies

The term “allergies” is often related to environmental allergies caused by plants and pollen. However, this doesn’t mean your dog cannot have a reaction to certain things in or around the house, such as dust, dust mites, cleaning products.

In dogs, most allergies are caused by dust mites, which live in bedding, rugs, clothing, upholstery, and carpets. If you have carpets in your home that haven’t been cleaned for a while, this can be an especially big source of allergies for your dog.

How to Treat Home Allergies?

Prevention is usually the best way to combat home allergies. Regular cleaning and vacuuming of your house will reduce the number of dust mites that trigger an allergic reaction in your dog.

Another source of allergy can be found on your dog’s bedding and their food bowl. Wash them regularly since they accumulate all the dander from your dog’s fur, as well as hair that sheds.

Treatment of symptoms usually consists of antihistamines or steroid medications, depending on the level of symptoms. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe the most appropriate type for your dog’s needs.

6. Bug Allergies

A bug allergy can be caused by bug bites. When your dog gets stung, they can develop an allergic reaction to the stinging insect. When this happens, the area of the body that was bitten will become itchy and inflamed. Severe cases of bug allergies can lead to a condition called anaphylaxis, marked by symptoms such as skin rashes, stomach pain, and trouble breathing.

How to Treat Bug Allergies?

Here are some steps that you can quickly apply for caring insect bites on dogs:

  1. Check for a stinger. The first thing you need to do is check the wound area for any sign of a stinger. A bee sting will cause swelling and redness that extends beyond the area of the bite. If your dog has been bitten by an insect, look closely at the surrounding area; if there are multiple bites, there’s a high chance that the stinger is still in one of them. Make sure to remove it right away!
  2. Use a cold Compress. If you notice swelling and redness that doesn’t go away after an hour or two, apply cold compresses to the affected area. The pain and itching will subside because of this measure, and the bite will heal more quickly.
  3. Apply a paste of baking soda and water. It’s not uncommon for dogs who have been bitten by insects to scratch at their wounds, causing them to become infected or otherwise worsen in appearance. To alleviate this problem, mix some baking soda with water until you’re left with a thick paste. Then, spread the paste over the affected area to help soothe your dog’s discomfort and reduce further irritation.
  4. Give your dog an oatmeal bath. Dogs with allergies often scratch themselves, which can lead to skin infections or sores in some cases. To avoid this, bathe your dog using oatmeal soap (available at most pet stores) to soothe irritated skin.
  5. Apply aloe vera gel. Your German Shepherd’s sensitive skin can cause his allergies to become especially problematic; that leads many owners to use aloe vera in an attempt to treat insect bites on dogs. Get a fresh plant, remove the leaf and apply it directly onto the affected area. If possible, leave the leaf on for a few hours to allow it to help relieve your dog’s pain and itching.
  6. Give your dog Benadryl. Benadryl is an over-the-counter medication that will help to reduce allergy symptoms in dogs, helping your pet to feel more comfortable.

If your dog is showing any classic symptoms of anaphylaxis, the treatment may necessitate the use of either prescription or over-the-counter medications. The main goal is to alleviate the symptoms and reduce inflammation while also treating your dog with antibacterial medication to prevent infection in the affected area of their body.

7. Drug Allergies

Prescribing drugs is a common practice for treating a range of pet-related ailments, from allergies to arthritis. However, sometimes dogs can react badly to the drug itself or an ingredient within.

Dogs who ultimately develop drug allergies will start out with a reaction either after the first dose of the medication or within a few days of administration. The reaction can be mild to severe, from hives and rashes to trouble breathing and even death if not treated ASAP.

In order to prevent this from happening with your dog, we recommend keeping track of the amount and type of medication given as well as the date on which they were administered. Then, when you notice the symptoms of allergies, stop administering drugs immediately and take them out for vet visits ASAP.


We know that there are many things to consider when caring for your German Shepherd, and allergies are no exception. Whether you have a dog with an allergy or not, it’s important to know the different types of allergies so that you can take appropriate action if they arise.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful and useful as you raise and train your German Shepherd.

Here are some of my favorite reviews for German Shepherd supplies that I personally use and recommend. If you do decide to purchase them, please remember that I’ll earn a small commission which helps me maintain this website.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.