Allergic Reactions/Hives

Allergic Reactions/Hives

There are many things that can trigger allergic reactions and hives in our animals – everything from food or medication that doesn’t agree with them, bee stings, wasp stings, nettle rash, vaccinations, flying ants, biting “critters” in the grass or undergrowth and even licking toads!

This is what happens when you decide to suck a wasp!!!

Oh dear; Axl NOT happy
Oh dear – Axl was NOT happy

Sometimes there might be a soft swelling on the face, paws or muzzle after rooting about, and if your dog has a short coat, then he might even get some raised blotches on his body too.

This is Vidar, one of our Rhodes 2 Safety follower’s dogs who had a bad reaction to a vaccination booster.  You can see through the stages of the photographs how the reaction increased in severity.  Poor boy ended up wearing socks to stop him scratching because he actually made his face bleed.


Hives 1
Hives just starting to appear


Hives 2
Hives gathering pace and intensity


Hives 3
One very uncomfortable Vadar


The reaction can be very itchy and often the dog can scratch and rub at himself until he bleeds.  The following video was sent to me by another of our followers and shows just how itchy allergic reactions can be.  Click on this link where you will see how the dog tries to relieve the itching.  HivesHives


Nettles, skin irritation & homeopathy

For a nettle rash or a general skin reaction, we merely bathe the area with cold water or use icepacks. You can also try a homeopathic remedy which is 1 tablet of Urtica, 4 times daily for 2 days.

Whether its medication, food, toads, frogs, wasps or bees, it’s not really a very serious problem for most dogs and is certainly not life threatening unless they either have a severe allergic reaction as in the pictures above, they react by going in to Shock, or if they are stung on the mouth/throat area.  Any of these situations may cause the windpipe to swell up and make it really difficult to breathe and if the airway swells up too much, it might even cut off the breathing altogether and suffocate the animal, so remember to treat severe allergic reactions and a sting to the mouth or throat as an emergency.

If the dog begins to go in to shock, it is vital that you get it to your vet ASAP.

Always remember to ring ahead and let the vet know that you are on your way so as not to arrive only to find that he/she is out on another call.

If possible, while en route to the vet, monitor the breathing rate (how many breaths are they taking in a 10 second period), what is the heart rate and gum colour – it’s advisable to check when the dog is well to see what is NORMAL for him so you are able to detect if things are going badly.

Position the animal with his rear end raised to encourage oxygenated blood towards the brain and keep him warm and calm.  With shock, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

An antihistamine is required to counteract the allergic reaction, but please DO NOT give Piriton or any other antihistamine unless it has been prescribed FOR YOUR DOG by your vet.  (In the UK, we always use Piriton – not Piriteze or any other type of antihistamine.  In other countries, Benadryl may be given but this is not appropriate in the UK due to the ingredients in our version).  If you know what dosage and what medication would be suitable, as previously prescribed by your own vet for this animal specifically, then giving antihistamine will help the symptoms to subside.

You may need to give another dose every 6-8 hours for a couple of days as the reaction may flare up again.  If the reaction is more severe still, then only a trip to the vet for an injection of high dose steroids and, as any swelling to the windpipe can be a life threatening situation, please ‘phone ahead to let your vet know you are on your way and go straight over.

Please bare in mind that not all dogs (dependant upon their history or medication they may be on, or their specific breed) may be safe to use Piriton.  Some dogs who fall into the herding varieties such as Border Collies, Shelties, Old English Sheepdogs etc could have a genetic defect called MDR1.  If they do, then administering a drug such as Piriton can be incredibly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.  If you do not know if your pastoral breed dog is MDR1 positive or not, a simple cheek swab sent off to a genetic lab for DNA testing can put your mind at rest one way or the other.  Here’s our blog on MDR1 just in case you want to read more about this mutation: MDR1 blog

If you do not have any antihistamine or your vet has not previously prescribed this for your dog, you can give them high doses of Vit-C and Nettle drops as it works as a natural antihistamine.  Administer at least 2000-3000 mg of Vitamin C every 4 hours as it is water based and 30-40 drops Nettle drops.


  1. Reply

    My dog has been getting the same reaction but they seem to be worse than your dogs
    Reaction he has a number of large bumps around his backside and on his neck around his spin. If u have any tips on stopping this reaction please comment below.

    Thank you.

    • Reply

      It sounds like an allergic reaction – possibly to something he has eaten or perhaps something he has come into contact with. That can be anything from insect bites, nettle stings, chemicals on farm fields and tracks or even a change in fabric softener if you’ve washed his bedding. If it is worse than the reaction my dog had, then that’s a serious reaction and it really will require a trip to the vet for an injection to help him get over it – and probably a few antihistamines too. Although it is likely to be very uncomfortable for him, the biggest danger is if the reaction starts bringing up lumps around his windpipe or throat as this would obviously make it very difficult for him to breathe.

      The best thing is to find out what is causing the reaction so you will need to look back at where he has been, what he has been doing and if you have made any changes to his environment or diet. Sometimes you just cannot pinpoint the trigger and it never happens again, but other times it repeats or can be a seasonal problem. My dog’s reaction turned out to be to playing with a toad but there are so many things it could be that its difficult to guess. If its on his entire body, it could be dietary, but I would just be guessing.

      Best wishes


  2. Reply

    try piriton to alleviate the symptoms, works for my boxers after getting hives and being stung by a wasp.

    • Reply

      I do mention the Piriton in the blog Gary as it is definitely the way to go BUT is essential that people check with their vet to make sure that it is OK for their specific dog. for most, it will be fine, but for some it can be fatal. Best advice is to ask the vet next time you are passing and then just keep the Piriton to hand if she says it is OK. People should never just assume that Piriton is safe. As with a lot of over the counter medications, they need to be checked first with regard to your dog’s breed, history, age, size, medication etc 😉

  3. Reply

    Try to use omega acids (advised by the vet dermatologist who knows 88 RR with skin allergy) .It helps with 50% cases. It cured my dog within 2 months (no steroids ) .His gone from looking like on the 1st big photo after every walk to No spots at all.I’ve recomended it to my friend ( not a RR owner) who confirmed her dog 8 years allergy has gone after few months of treatment !!! I hope you are in lucky 50%

  4. Reply

    My dog has had hives its been 1 week today. I think he got an insect bite from the outside. His diet hasn’t changed. He eats raw food been 3 yrs. nothing home has changed either.
    I give him 1 tab of Benadryl once a day bc i want to be careful on not giving him to much. But why does the hives keep reappearing?

    • Reply

      Hey Victoria,

      Hives can appear for one of two reasons – firstly, if he is coming into contact with whatever is the source of the reaction over and over, the hives will come up again and again. Alternatively, sometimes the reaction can go up and down even if you haven’t come into contact with the source again (it kind of reacts up and down like a rollercoaster) but should get less and less. If you are still seeing it as severely as it was in the start, by now a week later, then it looks like he is meeting the trigger again. Are you sure it was the insect bite that caused the problems? Could it be grasses perhaps if he is lying outside or could there be ants in your grass that are irritating him? I know one of mine has problems with little hives that come up on his head when he has been out on the grass sunbathing and even though I can’t see any bites, I know that’s what it is. Otherwise, could there be anything in the environment where you are walking or pollen or something sprayed on fields or anything?

      Take care and stay safe

  5. Reply

    would the human lice spray cause same hives to dogs ?

    • Reply

      it certainly could do if the dog is sensitive to the chemicals within it

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