Understanding Dog Allergies
As a dog owner, you need to be aware of dog allergies. We aren’t referring to a situation where a person is allergic to a dog’s dander or saliva; we are talking about allergic reactions suffered by dogs. The most common types of allergies suffered by dogs largely mimic those suffered by people: environmentally caused allergies, due to dust, mold and pollen; ingested allergies, usually caused by certain kinds of food; and topical allergies, triggered by contact with various things.
In this article, we will take a closer look at these three primary categories to help you gain a better understanding about dog allergies. Common symptoms, remedies and preventive measures will be addressed for each type of allergy.
Environmental dog allergies – also referred to as inhaled allergies or atopic – are probably already familiar to you. That’s because the same things that trigger these allergies in humans – dust mites, pollen and mold spores – trigger them in our canine companions. Environmental dog allergies are the most common canine allergies, and they can be difficult to pinpoint because many of the symptoms they cause can easily be confused with other problems.
What Causes Environmental Dog Allergies?
By paying attention to when your dog exhibits his or her symptoms, you might be able to deduce what they are reacting to. Year-round allergic reactions, for instance, are probably being caused by indoor allergens like dust mites and mold spores. These are very common in the air inside most homes; since they are invisible to the naked eye, they can easily go unnoticed. If your dog only seems to display his symptoms during certain times of the year, then he’s probably suffering from seasonal allergies caused by pollens in the air.
Symptoms Of Environmental Dog Allergies
Many different symptoms can be exhibited by a dog who is suffering from environmentally caused allergies. Biting, scratching and chewing their feet is a major sign; so is constant licking. Itching around the flanks, feet, groin or armpits is common. Sometimes, a dog with allergies will rub her face into the carpet, her ear flaps will be red and hot or she will have chronic ear infections. Other times, dog allergies cause a dog’s skin to become thick, greasy and bad smelling. “Hot spots” – i.e., raw patches of skin caused by chronic itches – will sometimes appear, and may become infected.
Treating And Preventing Environmental Dog Allergies
Prevention is the best way to ward off inhalant dog allergies is by removing the source of the problem. Keep your home as dust-free as possible, and keep your grass cut very short. Use dehumidifiers to prevent mold, and keep dogs out of moldy basements. If your dog spends time out in tall grass or weeds, give him a bath afterward. If preventive measures are insufficient for managing dog allergies, a visit to the vet may be in order. Antihistamines are commonly prescribed; sometimes, veterinarians recommend the use of Children’s Benadryl for managing dog allergies. For particularly difficult cases, a steroid like prednisone is also recommended. This happened to a neighbor who was proud of a well-designed dog door she bought for her rambunctious Lab, only to discover the following Spring that her dog had developed environmentally-triggered allergies. Instead of letting her dog come and go as he pleased, she had to control the dog’s outside time for the season, and administer prescription drugs for the duration.
Food sensitivities are responsible for approximately 10% of all cases of dog allergies. Sometimes referred to as ingested allergies, they are triggered by certain ingredients in a dog’s diet. Food sensitivities are very difficult to diagnose and pinpoint, so very close attention must be paid to dogs who are suspected of suffering from them.
What Causes Food Sensitivity In Dogs?
Like food sensitivities in humans, it is believed that overexposure to certain foods may trigger dog allergies to them. The top foods or ingredients that dogs may become allergic or sensitive to are wheat, corn, soy and chicken. Even if your dog used to enjoy a certain brand of dog food, it is not uncommon for dogs to develop sensitivities to a food over time; he or she may begin exhibiting symptoms seemingly out of the blue.
Symptoms Of Ingested Allergies
A few of the most common symptoms of dog allergies caused by a food sensitivity are: shaking of the head, anal itching, ear inflammation, licking the front paws and constantly rubbing the face into the carpet. Less common symptoms of dog allergies caused by a food sensitivity are: diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence, asthma-like symptoms, sneezing, seizures, and behavioral changes.
Treating And Preventing Ingested Allergies
When the culprit behind the food sensitivity is pinpointed, food sensitivities in dogs can be treated by omitting the ingredient from the dog’s diet. Optimally, though, food allergies can often be prevented by ensuring that your dog’s diet is varied and includes many different kinds of food. Limit their intake of wheat, soy, chicken and corn. Promote a healthy lifestyle for your dog; in turn, his immune system will be strong and he’ll ward off dog allergies more effectively.
Topical allergies are the least common kind of dog allergy, and are caused when a dog comes into contact with something that irritates his or her skin. Dog owners usually notice these allergies right away, since they are often triggered by the introduction of a new product in the dog’s life.
What Causes Topical Allergies In Dogs?
The most common culprits behind topical allergies in dogs are flea collars, shampoos, pet sweaters, plastic food bowls, plants, wool bedding and certain grasses.
Symptoms Of Topical Allergies
When a dog’s skin has a sensitivity to a certain material, he or she may exhibit a couple of different symptoms. Symptoms of these dog allergies may include redness, itching, swelling and hair loss. It is important to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and physical conditions at all times, to be on the alert for symptoms.
Treating And Preventing Topical Allergies
Treating topical dog allergies is simple: just remove the offending object. Normally, the symptoms outlined above will appear seemingly overnight; if they do, think back to anything unusual or different your dog may have been recently exposed to, then get rid of it or keep your dog away from it.
Preventing topical allergies is not practical, since there’s no real way to predict what a dog will be sensitive to; being a conscientious pet owner and paying careful attention to your dog – addressing problems immediately – is the best preventive measure you can take.