5 Common Shiba Inu Allergies You Should Know

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Imagine this: your Shiba Inu sidekick, the apple of your eye, is having a blast outdoors – until they start scratching like they’re digging for treasure.

Yes, the frustration of Shiba Inu allergies!

They are not that uncommon, so how should you deal with them?

Whether you’re a seasoned Shiba guardian or a curious soon-to-be parent, you’ll learn more about the various conditions and find a way to handle them here.

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What Are the 5 Most Common Types of Shiba Inu Allergies?

Most Common Types of Shiba Inu Allergies

Have you seen how cute the “wolf-like” round faces of Shiba Inus are? Not to mention how thick and dense their beautiful coats are too.

I totally get the hype about these dogs. Plus, they aren’t just adorable dogs, they’re sweet and affectionate too!

UnFURtunately, Shiba Inus are also prone to allergies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty much healthy doggies, but there are a few things you might want to know about things that might affect them.

If you have a Shiba Inu, sit tight and find out what the most common types of allergies are that can harm your dog.

1. Food allergies

You gotta watch out for everything your Shiba Inu eats because it can easily develop allergies to some foods.

I mean, all dog owners should check whether or not a particular food causes allergies in their dogs, but this wariness should be doubled for Shiba Inu owners.

Some Shiba Inus show severe allergic reactions toward chicken, egg, and dairy products. I’ve also seen other Shibas who are allergic to wheat and corn.

Nonetheless, if your pet is allergic to a certain food, you should stop it from consuming any more.

If it continues to eat food that he is allergic to, he’ll suffer from itchy skin.

When his food allergies increase, it breaks my heart to say that itchy skin won’t be the least of your concern because your dog will then suffer gastric distress too.

2. Environmental allergies (atopy)

If your Shiba Inu is allergic to certain things around him like pollen or dust, it comes down to environmental allergies.

Yes! It’s not just us humans who can get itchy and sneeze-y around dirty surroundings and particular flowers. 

Your dog can be exposed to these allergies too! And if it gets worse, it can get diagnosed with atopic dermatitis.

I can’t emphasize this enough but dogs usually get environmental allergies when he breathes in allergens that trigger itching and other allergy symptoms.

So, please get your Shiba Inu away from dusty places and bring him for a check-up so you can ask the vet if he’s allergic to pollen.

If your dog has environmental allergies, you’ll notice that he’s constantly itching and scratching his paws, eyes, or ears.

3. Flea allergy dermatitis

With their dense coats, it’s usual for Shiba Inus to have fleas especially if they aren’t groomed regularly.

Mind you, these fleas aren’t just disgusting but also dangerous to your Shiba Inu’s health.

Flea bites can easily cause flea allergies, and if not treated right away, would surely lead to flea allergy dermatitis.

The saliva of fleas can really do a number on a dog’s skin, causing your poor dog to scratch and itch all the time.

This could escalate so quickly, and you’ll soon see hot spots or scabs.

4. Contact allergies

As beautiful as their fur is, Shiba Inus have quite sensitive skin.

Some of these dogs become allergic to certain clothes, scent, or other surfaces.

I’ve heard vets call this type of allergy a “contact allergy” because your dog has to come in contact with the allergen first before the allergy can manifest.

For example, your Shiba Inu is allergic to cotton but since he looks cute in his Superman outfit, you put it on him without knowing the material is made of cotton.

When the cotton and your dog’s skin come in contact, it will irritate the skin. Your dog will then scratch the itchy spot to relieve the uncomfortable feeling.

If he is constantly exposed to these allergens, he’ll most likely have inflamed and dry skin.

And by the way, don’t be confused with contact allergies (contact dermatitis) and environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis).

It’s quite easy to tell them apart since your dog has to come in contact with allergens to have contact allergies, while environmental allergies need your dog to breathe to be exposed to allergens.

The good news is, this kind of allergy is pretty rare.

5. Medication allergies

If your Shiba Inu is currently on a new medication but you noticed that he’s itching too much with hives or red rash on his body, medication allergy could be to blame.

Dogs can be quite sensitive to medications, that’s why it’s unsafe to give your dog any medicine that wasn’t prescribed by the vet.

Plus, dogs like Shiba Inus may be allergic to most OTC drugs too.

If your Shiba Inu is taking two medications that aren’t compatible with each other, medication allergy can also appear.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Allergies in Your Shiba Inu?

Facial and auricular swelling

When your Shiba Inu comes in contact with allergens that trigger his allergies, his face, eyelids, and ears usually swell.

This is a common response toward the allergens that got inside his body. And of course, it’s very uncomfortable for your dog.

You have to give it medical attention you first notice such symptoms.

Skin irritation

Allergies are uncomfortable and annoying to deal with, that’s something you and I already both know.

So imagine your Shiba Inu suffering from his allergies. Of course, he’ll want to ease the uncomfortable feeling caused by allergens.

And the easiest way for him to do this is to scratch or itch his skin. If his itching continues, skin irritation will already take place.

Redness or skin inflammation will appear on your dog’s skin, and a burning sensation will be added to the itchiness.

Since you can quickly see it in your dog, skin irritation is the easiest sign of allergies to spot.

Gastrointestinal distress

If your dog’s allergies are related to food or his medication, the common signs will be gastrointestinal distress.

Your Shiba Inu will be vomiting and suffering from diarrhea until it gets rid of all the allergens he has ingested.

Sneezing

If your Shiba Inu has accidentally inhaled things that he is allergic to, he’ll most likely be sneezing.

Pollen and dust are the common allergens that really irritate your dog’s nose. In some cases, a runny nose will follow the sneezing too.

And I think sneezing is also an automatic response of your dog to get rid of the irritants or allergens he has breathed in.

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How to Determine if Your Shiba Inu Has a Food Allergy

A friendly warning here but determining if your Shiba Inu has a food allergy is not as simple as you may think.

It needs your patience, effort, and money.

But the technique I’m gonna share is the only way you can tell whether or not your dog has a food allergy.

So what if it takes time, effort, and money? As long as your dog will be safe from pesky allergies, then so be it, right?

Confirming a food allergy with a food elimination trial

A food elimination trial is a great way to confirm if the signs and symptoms your dog is showing are caused by food allergies.

Basically, you’ll have to feed your dog novel protein and carbohydrates that your dog has never ever eaten in his entire existence.

You’re probably wondering why you have to use these things that your dog hasn’t eaten before.

You see, if your dog has never eaten any of those novel proteins and carbohydrates yet, then there’s no chance for him to develop an allergy to such a diet. 

Remember that allergies usually occur when your dog’s immune system responds unfavorably to something it has encountered already.

By opting for proteins and carbohydrates that your dog hasn’t tried before, you’re actually lowering the likelihood of setting off an allergy.

So grab this diet right away and begin your dog’s 2 to 3-month food elimination trial. Within these months, you shouldn’t give your dog any other food AND treats.

You have to religiously feed your dog the same novel protein and carbohydrate diet until the trial is over.

But dogs are a little sneaky balls so you’ll have to closely watch your dog to prevent him from eating any scraps around the house.

If your dog ingests something that isn’t part of the diet, the whole trial will be a big failure so you’ll have to do it all over again.

Now, when the 2 to 3 months of food elimination trial is over and your dog’s condition hasn’t changed at all, he has no food allergy.

It’s most likely that the symptoms your dog is experiencing are due to other health issues.

But if your dog shows signs of even a little improvement in his symptoms, then you’ll have to continue the elimination for another 3 weeks.

If great things happen during the trial and your dog’s symptoms actually improved, he can now be properly diagnosed with food allergy.

When this happens, he is ready to proceed to the “Food Challenge” phase. 

In this phase, you’ll be able to introduce new food to him. But you can only introduce him to one new food at a time every two weeks.

This is to give you enough time to reassess your dog’s response to each food he is ingesting.

Best Ways to Treat Shiba Inu Allergies

Best Ways to Treat Shiba Inu Allergies

Consult a veterinarian

The best way to treat Shiba Inu allergies is to consult a veterinarian. But I recommend looking for a vet who specializes in pet allergies.

Vets can precisely diagnose your dog with the specific allergy he has, so you’ll be able to know what medication he’ll need.

Allergen avoidance

If you already know the type of allergy your Shiba Inu has, make sure that he won’t come in contact with any of those allergens.

Keep the food he is allergic to far from his reach, and change the bedding or clothing so that his skin is irritated too.

Check his vitamins and medications too to make sure that none of those will trigger an allergic reaction.

High-quality diet

A high-quality diet is the key to keeping your Shiba Inu’s immune system up and running smoothly. 

If your dog is healthy, he won’t be easily affected by allergens. Plus, a high-quality diet is a great way to avoid food allergies.

Avoid feeding your dog table scraps, but rather give him the nutritious diet his body needs.

I highly recommend using Ollie dog food, a real game changer for me since I switched a few years ago.

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Medications

Before you put your Shiba Inu on any medication for his allergies, you need to consult your vet first about it.

There are a couple of medications available for your dog’s allergies, and the treatment your dog will receive depends on the severity of his condition.

Sometimes, vets will recommend steroids or antihistamines with anti-leukotriene on the side.

But please, no matter how dire the situation is, call your vet first before giving your dog any of those medications.

Topical treatments

There are countless topical treatments available in the market for your Shiba Inu allergies.

Topical treatments usually offer quick relief to your dog’s irritated or inflamed skin. Some topical treatments come in the form of gel, ointment, or cream.

Flea prevention

The allergy flea bites bring is equally painful and itchy. What makes it worse is, fleas multiply quickly.

Just thinking about flea infestation is already enough to make my skin crawl, what more if these fleas are actually crawling on your dog’s skin?

Hence, treating fleas is harder than preventing their occurrence. Make sure your dog is always clean and tend to his fur regularly to drive fleas away.

Allergy testing and immunotherapy

Allergy testing and immunotherapy are two tricky medical procedures that need a vet’s attention. It’s risky to try on your own lest you hurt your dog!

Allergy testing helps you know what allergens trigger an allergic reaction to your Shiba Inu. This is helpful in a way that you’ll be able to avoid exposing your dog to things that will trigger their allergies.

Immunotherapy, on the other hand, is a complicated procedure on a whole new level! Some may even say that it’s an insane way to treat Shiba Inu allergies.

Why? Because you will literally expose your dog to things that might cause allergies to him.

But don’t worry. If done properly, he’ll be so immune to those allergies that he’ll no longer be allergic to them.

Supplements and omega-3 fatty acids

Aside from a high-quality diet, it’s also a good thing to give your Shiba Inu supplements that will save him from allergy symptoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for managing inflammation, so be sure your dog’s diet contains a healthy amount of these nutrients!

Regular grooming

As dog owners, you and I both know how important regular grooming is to our dogs. It keeps dogs clean and away from allergens.

Shiba Inu has a thick coat, right? So if your dog doesn’t receive regular grooming, the dirt and allergens can easily plant themselves in his dense fur.

Regular grooming is also a gateway to keep your dog flea-free. And if your dog has no fleas, then he won’t be getting any flea allergies.

Best Food for Shiba Inu With Allergies

In the clinic where I used to work, our vets often recommend this hypoallergenic dog food named Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein, and many of our customers shared that it worked great for their Shiba Inus with allergies.

It’s a dry kibble with natural flavors, and any Shiba Inu of different ages can enjoy it!

It has hypoallergenic ingredients too, and vets even recommend it for doggies who are suffering from skin allergies.

Don’t worry about your dog having digestion issues, because this dog food is well-suited for easy digestion.

It tastes great and is specially formulated for dogs with allergies, making it a fantastic choice for your Shiba Inu!

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What Are the Signs You Have Dog Allergies?

As much as pets are cuddly, adorable, and fun to be around, there are limits to some humans since pet allergies do exist.

It’s easy to tell if you have pet allergies since the signs can manifest right away. 

Sneezing after or having a stuffy nose while you’re around your pets is a telltale sign of your allergies.

Hives and other skin irritations may also appear in your body after touching, cuddling, and playing with your pets if you have allergies to them.

Don’t worry though because there are many medications available that you can use!

Check in with your doctor and see what treatment can help you. Once on medication, you can continue spending time with your pets without the risk of allergic reactions.

Are Shiba Inus Hypoallergenic?

Sadly, Shiba Inus aren’t hypoallergenic. They are adorable, and I’m sure anyone would love to cuddle them.

But people with pet allergies may want to step away from these doggies if they aren’t on any medication that helps their allergy symptoms.

Shiba Inus have danders just like any other dog breeds you know. They are produced every time they shed, and they can scatter all around.

And Shiba Inus have a double coat layer, making them shed more than any other dog, so they produce more dander.

And you know what this means, the more dander, the more allergic reactions a person may exhibit.

If you suffer from allergies and are still on the fence about getting a new dog, you might wanna learn about the different hypoallergenic poodle breeds instead.

Why do Shiba Inus shed so much?

Shiba Inus shed so much because their coats have two layers. 

Their outer fur is thick and dense, and kind of stiff. Shiba Inus need their outer fur to be thick and stiff to protect them from weather and other environmental threats.

But Shiba Inu’s inner fur is soft since it’s what keeps them warm during cold weather or season.

What that coat pattern, you could only imagine how much they shed all year round.

Can you shave a Shiba to prevent shedding?

Whoever tells you that shaving a Shiba prevents shedding needs to be told he’s incorrect.

Indeed, you can shave a Shiba. But shaving a Shiba to prevent shedding?

That’s certainly one of the misconceptions among some dog owners. A Shiba will still shed no matter how you shave him.

For sure the fur will be shorter, but it’s already in Shiba’s DNA to shed regularly. So you’ll just deal with shorter fur, but shedding will still be there.

Plus, shaving a Shiba will only expose him to health issues, so better let that doggy alone with his fur!

How Are Humans Affected by Dog Allergies?

Humans can be affected by dog allergies in different ways.

While some may not be affected by it at all, others may still show obvious symptoms brought on by dog allergies.

When a person with dog allergies gets a whiff of dog dander, he may just simply have itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, or occasional sneezing.

But if the allergy is severe, it can escalate to skin irritation and shortness of breath.

It’s really important to keep the house free from danders since this stuff easily triggers allergic reactions.

Examples of Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds

The American Kennel Club has already emphasized enough that there are no COMPLETELY hypoallergenic dog breeds.

But don’t fret! AKC expressed that there are still dog breeds out there that are hypoallergenic enough to be owned by people with pet allergies.

I have here some of those adorable dog breeds:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Afghan Hound
  • American Hairless Terrier
  • Barbet
  • Bichon Frise
  • Maltese
  • Poodle

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance in dogs?

Food allergies in dogs can be observed in dogs’ skin. Dogs with food allergies will usually itch and scratch their skin, causing hair loss and skin irritations. Meanwhile, food intolerance is observed when dogs suffer from gastrointestinal issues. Dogs with food intolerance will most likely vomit and experience diarrhea as its symptoms.

What is a novel protein?

Novel protein is a rare type of protein that your dog hasn’t eaten before. Proteins from alligators, rabbits, deer, and ostrich are what you could call novel proteins.

Are there adjustments I can make to create a more allergy-friendly space for Shibaiba Inu?

If you have an extra room at home, keep it clean and free from dust, pollens, and other allergens that may trigger your Shiba Inu allergy. Make that room your dog’s personal space where he can sleep, play and eat. If you have no extra space at home, keeping your house clean and allergen-free is already enough for your Shiba Inu. Just make sure you don’t feed him any food that causes allergies.

In Conclusion: Shiba Inu Allergies

Remember, Shiba sniffles needn’t cramp your pup’s style.

From food tweaks to hypoallergenic havens, options abound.

So, chin up, paw pals – conquering Shiba Inu allergies is like teaching a pup to sit.

With patience, love, and a sprinkle of know-how, you’ll have your furball living their best, itch-free life!

Hey! If you found this post useful, check out these other ones too:

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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