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Maltese Allergies

In regard to Maltese allergies, things can seem puzzling for an owner.   These reactions can appear to come out of no where...a canine can grow into or grow out of sensitivities.

While all dog breeds can have allergies, it is the small dog breeds, such as the Maltese, who can be more sensitive to outside allergens and internal allergens.

A Maltese with allergies can show a huge range of symptoms; some that you would normally not associate with an allergy problem!

Therefore, let's look at the symptoms, causes and treatments for Maltese dog allergies.
What are the Symptoms that my Maltese has Allergies?

Maltese allergiesNo matter what your Maltese is allergic to, the most common symptoms of dog allergies are:
  • Hair loss - the dog may seem to be shedding much more than usual, however most common will be patches of hair loss on the Maltese. The dog may begin to have areas that are actually down to the skin.  These patches can be anywhere; however most commonly on the face, elbows and back.

  • Dry, red and/or itchy skin - The skin on your dog's face and tummy may appear scaly.  Redness may occur.  The Maltese dog may show an allergy sensitivity on the tummy.  If loss of coat has occurred, the skin that you can see through the patches may appear dry, red or scaly.

  • Scratching - The dog may repeatedly scratch at his ears or other places on the body.  With severe dog allergy cases, a dog may scratch so much that he breaks open the skin

  • Sores - Certain areas on the body may become filled with pus, and/or be red or swollen

  • Chewing -  Just like the above scratching symptoms, a dog may also chew to relieve the itching
  • Vomiting, dry heaving - Dog food allergies can cause these symptoms. this may occur once per week or every day.  In general, if your Maltese is having food allergies, even when the dog is not vomiting, most likely he or she is experiencing an upset stomach
  • Diarrhea - Along with the above mentioned vomiting, dog food allergies may also cause this symptoms with the Maltese
  • Coughing - an inhalant dog allergy can cause the Maltese dog to cough
  • Difficulty breathing - along with coughing, the dog may wheeze or make rasping noises when breathing
Aside from the above most common symptoms, when a dog has allergies, they can manifest in many ways.  If your dog shows any unusual signs, it is always best to bring your Maltese to the veterinarian.

What Could My Maltese be Allergic to?

Dogs can be allergic to just about anything, just as a human can be.  Many dog owners believe that dog allergies are rare.  However, up to 20% of all Maltese dogs are allergic to something.  Allergies may begin small and grow to be quite severe.  The Maltese breed is most commonly allergic to:

  • Dog food - it is not usually the dog food itself, but a certain ingredient in the dog food
  • Contact - Anything that the Maltese dog touches can set off an allergic reaction.  This can be the carpet that the dog sits on or the material of their dog bed.  Often a Maltese owner will find that it is not the material itself, but the cleaning products that were used to clean it.  The #1 contact dog allergy is from dog shampoo.
  • Fleas - Even 1 flea can set off an allergic reaction in a dog.  Toy breed dogs like the Maltese can be highly sensitive to fleas.
  • Bacteria - microscopic bacteria, is normally found on all dogs.  The Maltese can sometimes develop an allergy to it.
  • Inhalants - Something that the Maltese is breathing may be causing allergies.  This can be cleaning products, such as air fresheners; it is usually second hand smoke
Diagnosing Your Maltese Dog Allergy

With all symptoms except vomiting and diarrhea (which are almost always dog food allergies), you will need to determine what is causing the allergy.  This can often be done by removing suspected dog allergy culprits.

This takes a bit of patience, while you eliminate elements one at a time to discover which one is causing the reaction in your dog. Every 2 weeks,
one element should be removed and replaced to see if the dog appears to get better.  This will be done while treating the dog, as well (Discussed below). Begin with the most common dog allergy and work your way down.
  • Check for fleas first.   Be sure to  use  flea control,  such as a flea collar.  If there is an infestation of dog fleas, you will need to perform a thorough treatment and then follow up with regular flea control maintenance.
  • Change the shampoo that you use. This is the #1 contact allergy element. Be sure to use a hypo allergenic dog shampoo and dog conditioner
  • Change the carpet cleaner and laundry detergent that you use
  • Lay down towels, baby blankets or twin size blankets on the carpeting where your Maltese normally lies down to see if your dog is allergic to the carpet itself and not just the cleaner.
  • Do not allow smokers to fill up your home with smoke.  Ask anyone who smokes to do so outside or in a room that will not allow the drift of the smoke to enter into the main house.

There is help for Maltese allergy problems. Treatment for dog allergies and eliminating the cause work hand in hand.  Treatment will only be temporary if you do not eliminate the cause.

If your Maltese dog is having a very severe allergic reaction,  intervention by your dog's veterinarian may be needed. The dog may need Antihistamines, steroid shots and/or prescription ointments to get the allergies under control.  Antibiotic medication may be needed for raw and open sores on the dog.

At home, you will want to give your dog bathes with dog allergy shampoos.   These soothing shampoos and conditioners help to sooth, cool and heal a dog's sore and itchy skin.


10% of dog allergies will be dog food allergies.  A dog may eat a certain dog food for years before becoming allergic to it.  Allergies may begin when a Maltese is a puppy, but may not show up for as long as 12 years!  Either making a switch to a hypo-allergenic dog food or offering home cooking can be of great help.   Most commonly, these foods will be primarily lamb and rice; 2 ingredients shown to not usually cause reactions.

What You Need to Know

We have had experience with Maltese that have had very unusual symptoms of allergies; that fall out of the  normal classifications of allergic symptoms.  It is sad how a simple allergy can be so harmful and discomforting to a dog.  For this reason, we have put our combined knowledge into 1 easy to read format: The PetMaltese Book.  To request your copy, just click here.

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