Can your dog get hives? The answer is a definite yes. Although it is not as common as other types of skin conditions your dog may face, it can certainly be a problem and something all owners should be aware of.
There are basically two different forms of hives in dogs; Urticaria, which is an outbreak on their body of swollen bumps, patches, or welts that will appear very suddenly, or Angioedema, which is similar except the swelling happens beneath the skin, not on the skin.
Angioedema is often referred to as swollen face instead of hives, but it is basically the same thing.
Both kinds of hives will be the result, just like in humans, of an allergic reaction to something such as certain allergens, but it could be any number of things that can be very difficult to actually pinpoint.
Chemicals that you might use in or around your yard could be causing these conditions as well as rubbing against grass, weeds, or other types of pollen carriers. Food allergies can also be a major cause of hives.
All dogs can get hives, although there are some breeds, simply because of their skin sensitivities, that are more prone such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Dalmatians, and Lhasa Apsos.
From first hand experience, I have had 3 Dalmatians now, all three had hives, and my current one is 15 years old, and still occasionally gets hives and we still do not know what actually cause it.
Hives will normally cause a severe itching in your dog, but they can also sting or actually burn your dog. They will vary in size from ranging from about the size of a penny, to severe cases where they can be as large as a small salad bowel. If they join together, they are than referred to as plaques.
The severity of hives will depend on where they are located. Normally they will appear on your dog's body mass such as their back or bellies, but can also develop on their face and or lips. In the more severe forms of hives, they will appear on their tongues, throat, or ears. Hives on their throat or tongue may pose more of a treat to your dog.
Most cases of hives are not severe, and will generally dissipate within a day or two. However, there are some exceptions.
Angioedema, or swollen face, could be a much more serious threat to your canine friend. With this condition, your pets face will swell, especially around the muzzle and the eyes. If the swelling is severe enough, your dog will not be able to see as they can not open their eyes.
In most cases of Angioedema, the swelling will develop very quickly, which is good news and bad news. They good news is that it will give you some reference of time frame of where your pet was and what possibly could have set off this allergic reaction.
The bad news is that it is most definitely a more serious situation. If it does develop in your pets tongue and throat, it may make it very difficult for them to breath. Very severe cases of this condition are referred to as anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a condition that develops very rapidly and is a much more serious set of reactions in that it affects several different parts of the body at the same time, which is now life threatening. This condition can and has been fatal for dogs, and if you suspect this condition has affected your pet, you need to seek immediate medical attention from your veterinarian.
Both of these conditions are the result of reactions in your pet's bodies that are triggered by antibodies that their immune system has produced, and causes inflammatory cells to release substances that cause the allergic reaction.
These reactions could also be the result of a recent vaccination your dog has received. Many types of vaccinations will contain antibiotics as preservatives, which triggers the reaction. Both forms of hives are treated generally by antihistamines quite successfully, but in severe cases they will be treated with steroids.
Some cases of hives can be very easy for owners to miss, or may remain hidden under their coats, and can also be mistaken as flea bites.
Symptoms to watch for in hives will be a sudden and excessive scratching, patches of fur that seem to be raised, as well as sudden bald patches that are scaling or look like a rash. In some cases, your pet may actually develop what looks like dandruff, but it is actually very dry skin.
If your pet develops yellow coloring on their lips, abdomen, or rectal areas, it may be the more severe form developing.
There have been several reported cases in chronic or severe hives, where Vitamin B12 supplements and or injections has reduced both the severity and the frequency of these attacks.
Hives, either the Urticaria form or the Angioedema form, is something that all dog owners should be very aware of and watch for at all times, as no one actually knows for sure what can set them off in your canine friend.