Dogs suffer from allergic reactions due to low immunity, just as people do. Although allergies are fairly harmless under normal circumstances, dogs tend to have more extreme reactions compared to other animals. Regardless of the breed or age of your dog, dog allergies can cause a wide variety of symptoms including digestive, respiratory, and skin reactions.
Symptoms of Dog Allergies
If you suspect your pet may have allergies, you’ll want to watch for the following symptoms of dog allergies:
- Scabbed skin or moist, itchy, and red skin
- Unusual vomiting
- Unusual sneezing
- Ear infections or itchy ears
- Constant licking
- Paw chewing
Be aware that a dog with allergies may also develop a secondary skin infection (either yeast or bacterial), which may result in hair loss, crusty skin, scabs, and other irritations.
What Causes Dog Allergies?
There are some common substances (allergens) that can trigger dog allergies. These include:
- Food allergens
- Mold, dust and dander
- Fleas and mites
- Cleaning agents
- Pollens like weeds, trees, and grass
- Tick and flea preventive treatments
Types of Allergies
Flea Allergies: Flea allergies occur when your pet reacts to the saliva of flea deposited through fleabites. A flea allergy is one of the most common allergies in dogs. Itching with extreme discomfort is one of the first signs, and which can be aggravated with warm weather. In severe cases, your dog may even develop an unpleasant odor or experience hair loss. Flea allergies require your prompt attention to physically remove the fleas from your dog’s environment, as well as to apply the appropriate flea control product suggested by your vet.
Environmental Allergies: Seasonal and environmental allergens like molds, grass, pollens, dust mites, ragweed, etc., provoke allergies in dogs just as they do in many humans. Look for signs such as any type of oozing or odor coming from your dog’s ears, itchiness of his skin, and paw-chewing behavior. Serum testing and intradermal skin testing are some effective ways to diagnose allergies triggered by environmental and seasonal factors.
Food Allergies: Providing proper nutrition to your dog is essential for good skin condition. Many dogs can develop allergies to their food over time. Over 10% of dog allergies are determined to be food allergy cases, and they are marked by food intolerances. Common symptoms that indicate food allergies include gastrointestinal issues, ear inflammation, chronic gas, and diarrhea.
How to Treat Your Dog’s Allergies
After you identify the type of allergy your dog has, you will want to remove the cause from its environment, as well as seek immediate medical attention for your pet.
Targets and Triggers: For flea allergies, your veterinarian might suggest one or more drugs—possibly both oral and topical, based on the stage of the dog’s allergy. The most effective way to control fleas and to prevent them from recurring is to change or thoroughly clean your dog’s bed and environment. Keep the entire area free of dust and smoke, in addition to using air filters, wherever possible.
Bring on the Baths: Some dog owners avoid frequent shampooing of their pets because they fear it may damage their pets’ skin. However, vets these days recommend weekly shampooing, and at times, even daily bathing for severe skin allergies.
Try Stronger Treatments
Even when you’ve taken steps for flea control and increased your dog’s bathing frequency to fight allergies, you may still have to consider stronger treatments if your dog’s itching persists. Veterinarians offer diverse remedies to handle more complex allergies. Some of these include minor doses of injections, antibiotics, immunology, and testing.
For allergy-induced behaviors like paw chewing and repeated scratching, preventive medications such as prescription drugs or steroid shots may be recommended. Some vets may even let you administer the shots at home to avoid upsetting your daily schedule.
Beware of the Food Dish
Since pets often suffer from food allergies, take care to feed your pet in clean bowls. Frequently food allergies are caused by protein-rich food like beef, milk, eggs, cheese, fish, and even soy. For these reasons, it’s wise to follow the guidance of your veterinarian and eliminate foods one by one to identify the precise allergen that troubles your pet. In some cases, protein substitutes may be suggested by the vet to compensate for a lack of protein intake.
There’s Hope for Dogs with Allergies
With tremendous advancement in the medical field and technology, there is a solution or cure for almost all types of allergies in dogs these days. You just need to be alert to spot the symptoms or notice your pet’s distress or discomfort and seek medical attention to help your dog enjoy a healthy and happy life.