My Chihuahua Has Hives

Reader Question on Hives Followed By Suggestion From Our Vet

My chihuahua gets hives quite frequently. We used to live in Michigan and she would get them once or twice a year usually lasting for a week or two at a time.

We recently moved to Florida. Our living arrangements have changed and my dogs are now alone all day. She got the hives quickly after moving here.

Since everything is a new environment I am not sure what is causing it. They came on for a day or two, went away with a cortisone bath and Benadryl. However, the hives returned a week or two later. We did the same thing and gave her the bath and Benadryl. They went away in a day or two...then returned again. They returned sometime during the night. She was fine before bed. We took the dogs out one last time before going to sleep and when we woke up she had them all over her. She has had them all day today and they are really bad this time.

They are usually under her fur and her fur sticks up, but the past two times she's had them, they are on her chest and belly and paws and they are big red circles. I can tell she is uncomfortable. The bath does seem to calm her for a short time, but then they come back. The Benadryl doesn't help as much as it didn't when she first started getting them. I put some hydrocortisone cream on her tonight and it seemed to help a little.

I am planning on taking her to the vet when I get paid again. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what could be causing this? There are so many new factors I have no idea what it could be. A vet in Michigan told us it could be
pollen, but I don't know if that's the case here. It could be fresh cut grass, pollen, bug bite (can a mosquito cause this?)...I just don't know what it could be and I want to avoid it, but I don't know how!

Any suggestions would be great.

Suggestion From Our Veterinarian on Hives


Hives can be a frustrating problem because almost anything can set them off – pollen, mold, dust mites, ingredients in food, insect bites, cleaning solutions, fragrances, air fresheners, heat, cold, touching the skin, and even stress. I suspect that some combination of these (e.g., allergies and stress) are playing a role in your dog’s case. You have been treating her appropriately up to now, but I think she needs something stronger than the baths, Benadryl, and cream that you have been using.

In cases like these, veterinarians often treat dogs with prednisone. They try to find the lowest dose that will keep the hives away and keep them on that dose for a couple of months, and then gradually wean them off of the prednisone. You could also consider putting your dog on a low-allergen diet. Foods that are hydrolyzed or contain single protein and carbohydrate sources that she has never been exposed to (e.g., duck and potato) are good options, but a change in diet will only work if a food allergy is to blame.

Stress relief might also help. If you know of anything that seems to make your dog anxious or upset, do your best to relieve it. Owners have reported success relieving their pet’s anxiety when using Rescue Remedy, homeopathic supplements, or collars, diffusers and sprays that contain dog appeasing hormone. If none of these work, a veterinarian in Florida may be able to help you identify your dog’s triggers and come up with a plan for avoiding them.

Good luck,
Jennifer Coates, DVM

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