Golden Retriever Allergies – What You Should Know

Written by Teresa Eckert

Any dog can get allergies; some breeds are just more susceptible than others. Golden retrievers are one of the breeds that are more allergy-prone.  

Allergies that cause in skin irritation are among the most common. Several things can cause these allergies in your golden.

We will look at what causes allergies in golden retrievers, what are the signs or symptoms, can they be prevented, and what treatments can be used to address the allergies.  First, let’s look at golden retrievers and skin allergies.

Skin Allergies

As stated above, skin allergies are common in most dogs.  A common skin disease, known as Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD), is especially common in golden retrievers.  This disease causes the immune system to react to environmental allergens that comes in contact with your dog’s skin. This in-turn causes your dog to have very itchy skin.

If you notice your golden scratching continuously, take him to the vet for a diagnosis.  If it is CAD, then treatment can be start immediately. There is no cure for CAD, however there are several long-term treatment options that can help.

Two things that make Golden Retrievers so susceptible to allergies are their long, thick beautiful coats and their love of the outdoors.  Let’s look at other sources that can contribute to allergies.

What Causes Allergies In Golden Retrievers?

Goldens can be allergic to several things which would make it hard nail it down to one specific cause.  Here are four areas that may be the cause:

  • Food - Especially processed pet food, is a common source of allergies in dogs. Many dogs are either allergic to the proteins or grains found in these foods. Other sources may be dog treats, medications and even “table scraps”.
  • Dust, Dust-Mites and Mold - Just like humans, dogs react to common household allergens like dust, dust-mites and mold. Cigarette/tobacco smoke may also be a trigger. 
  • Natural Occurring Allergens - Golden Rrtrievers love being and playing outdoors. It is also a place where environmental allergens like, pollen, dander, feathers, etc. are. These can also be allergens.
  • Cleaning Supplies, Perfumes, Materials - Sometimes the items we bring into our homes may cause an allergic reaction. Even items we buy for our dogs such as flea/tick or dog shampoo can be triggers.  

Signs & Symptoms of Allergies

Scratching is probably the most common sign associated with allergies, especially vigorous scratching in a specific area.  A few others would be ear biting, face rubbing, constant paw licking and biting of the legs and flanks.

However, there are several other non-specific signs or symptoms that can occur over time and indicate that your golden may have allergies. 

Other signs include:

  • Constant licking
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Itching back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
  • Itchy ears
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Paw chewing or swollen paws
  • Scab or hair loss (sign of secondary infection due to bacteria or yeast
  • Sneezing
  • Snoring (caused by an inflamed throat or infection)
  • Vomiting

It is important that once you notice any of the above signs/symptoms that you take your golden to the vet.  Early diagnosis and expert intervention will help prevent the allergies from becoming too severe. 

Can Allergies Be Prevented?

Not at this time.

There is a belief that an increased intake of beneficial intestinal bacteria and a raw food diet can prevent allergies, but there is no substantiated evidence to prove this is the case.  

Then there is the concern regarding the development of allergies from exposure to more environmental and/or chemical substances. So, for the time being allergies cannot be prevented, but they can be treated.

Ways Can We Treat & Manage Allergies

As stated before, if you suspect that your golden is experiencing allergies take him to the vet.  Your vet will review a checklist that looks at your dog’s signs and symptoms, diet and home environment.

Some tests will be administered, usually a blood and skin test to see what the appropriate treatment or intervention will be. In the meantime, you can do a few things to help make your golden more comfortable.

Manage Food Allergies

The best way to see what foods are causing an allergic reaction is to use process of elimination.  Remove foods and treats, one by one to see which item is causing the allergic reaction.  It is time consuming but well worth the effort.

  • Some recommend removing grains first and trying a grain-free formula.
  • Start to test which proteins work or don't work.
  • Make sure that you are feeding your golden high, quality health food that has few ingredients and not something that is bad for them. 
  • Once you know which item is causing the reaction, inform your vet so that a diet modification can be implemented until your dog is symptom free.
  • Sometimes, Omega-3 and healthy fats can help with allergies and skin discomfort.
  • Some research has shown that giving your dog high-potency cultures of probiotics can reduce the likelihood of allergies developing and may improve the diet of those who already have allergies.
  • While following a strict diet plan, make sure to monitor your dog’s reaction to any new foods that are introduced, also making sure to introduce them one at a time. Leave time between introducing new foods so you are able to allow time for a reaction if there is one.

Manage Home Environment Allergies

Just like foods, if you are not sure what your golden is allergic to you may have to use the process of elimination in the home.  Go from one thing to another and seeing if it affects your dog.

  • Thoroughly clean your home and the areas that your dog favors. Vacuum and mop frequently to keep areas clear of dust.
  • Use air conditioning to keep the home temperature cool and comfortable.
  • If your golden is affected by mold, dust and dust-mites, you may need to use dehumidifiers to reduce the amount of humidity in the air.  Make sure to clean your dehumidifier, following the instructions provided so that it will continue to work efficiently. 
  • Wash your dog’s bedding and any other items they may like, such as, rugs and blankets.  Also, you can cover your dog’s bedding with plastic to prevent dust-mites.
  • You can reduce mold exposure by not having houseplants.  If you do have houseplants, add charcoal to the soil of these plants to prevent the development of mold.

Manage Natural Environmental Allergies

Your golden loves to play outdoors which can be detrimental if environmental allergens or pollen are a trigger.

  • You may need to limit time outside during pollen season.
  • Since your dog will still have to go outside, it’s important to wipe off his fur or skin with a wet cloth to remove any pollen, dander or dust.
  • Wiping off your golden retriever’s paws after being outside is also extremely important.  Your dog could lick its paws or touch another area which may trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Regular bathing will help remove allergens from your golden’s coat and will give you the chance to monitor your dog’s skin condition.
  • Remember do not bathe your dog more than once a week.  This may strip off natural oils which could cause other skin problems.

Manage Product Allergies

Your dog may be having an allergic reaction to household items, such as, cleaning supplies, sprays, detergents, etc.

  • Once again, you may have to use process of elimination, trying one thing after another to see how your pet responds to it.
  • It may be their own products that they are reacting to – dog shampoo, flea shampoo or powder, sprays or other cleaning products. 

Treatments for Allergies

These are just a few things that we can do to manage allergies in our pet. However, we need to remember that the most important thing that we can do to make our pet healthy, comfortable and happy is to visit the vet!

Your dog’s vet will know whether your efforts are helping or if other medical treatments are necessary, such as:

  • Medications
  • Steroid treatment
  • Antihistamines
  • Cyclosporine treatment
  • Immunotherapy

Some of these are for short-term use, while others are for long-term. The cost of each treatment may vary, some way more expensive than others. It is important to discuss each option since some may have long-term side effects. Whatever treatment you chose, make sure to follow the directions given when administering it to your golden!

​Tips to Remember

  • Dogs can get allergies just like humans.
  • Golden retrievers are more susceptible to allergies than other breeds.
  • CAD is a very common skin disease for goldens.
  • There are several signs/symptoms of allergies, with continuous scratching being #1.
  • Take your golden to the vet at the first sign to get a diagnosis.
  • Use the process of elimination at home to help find the cause – food, home environment, other home or pet products.
  • Keep your home and dog’s environment clean and dust free.
  • Limit time outside if your dog reacts to pollen, grass, dander, etc.
  • Wipe their fur or bathe your golden to remove potential allergens.
  • Visit your vet if medical treatments are necessary and follow instructions!

About the author

Teresa Eckert

Teresa is a co-founder of Golden Retriever Love and is the fur-mom to Annie the Golden Retriever and Remi the Chocolate Lab. Teresa enjoys spoiling her pups and occasionally writing some great content for us on this blog!