Specific Dog allergies can be difficult to identify. All animals can suffer from allergies, including your dog.
Allergies may be genetic, or they may develop over time. Allergy symptoms result when the immune system of the sufferer reacts to a substance (i.e. an allergen) as if it were dangerous.
Allergy symptoms can affect the respiratory system, the skin, the eyes, digestion and other systems of the body. In this article, we’ll explain a little bit about allergies in dogs and share some good information to help you keep your best friend comfortable and allergy symptom-free. Read on to learn more.
Recognizing Allergy Symptoms in Dogs
If your dog has allergies, the symptoms may manifest in a number of ways. This depends upon what type of substance your dog is allergic to and what aspects of his or her biological makeup may be weakened. When your dog has allergies, you may notice runny eyes, sneezing and coughing. Your dog may also begin to snore when it sleeps. This is common with springtime pollen allergies just as it is in humans.
Your dog may also exhibit allergy symptoms in the skin. You may notice your dog scratching, and licking his skin. You may see patches of skin that are moist, red and itchy. Sometimes scabbed areas of skin will appear. This can be an allergy to an environmental toxin, or it may be a flea allergy. If you see and itchy and inflamed spot near the base of your dogs tail, you can be pretty sure that this is caused by fleas.
Dogs that are allergic to something in their food may also exhibit these symptoms. Other symptoms that indicate problems with food include diarrhea and vomiting and swollen paws. It’s important to note that these symptoms may also indicate poisoning or serious illness. It’s important to see your vet right away if your dog exhibits these acute symptoms.
1. Avoid Selecting A Dog Breed That Is Prone to Allergies
Bulldogs and Terriers do tend to get allergies more often than other types of dogs. Other dogs that tend to be flat faced, such as Pugs also tend to suffer from allergies more frequently than most dogs.
Retrievers and Setters have also been known to have more allergic reactions than is common in dogs. Generally speaking, dogs that have unusual skin characteristics, such as the excessive folds of the Shar-Pei are prone to allergic reactions.
Generally speaking, if a dog is going to develop an allergy problem it will do so after the age of two years. For this reason, adopting an older dog could be a very smart choice. Additionally, crossbred dogs or “mutts” tend to have fewer health problems than many purebred type dogs.
This is a result of natural selection choosing the strongest features from both parents and combining to create better offspring.
2. Avoid These Common Culprits in Dog Allergies
Just as with people, dog allergies may be kept entirely under control by simply avoiding the allergens. It’s smart to keep your dog away from, common irritants such as weed and grass pollen and even some tree pollens. All beings are better off when kept away from cigarette smoke and mold spores as these are highly toxic substances.
Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to fleas, so it’s important to select a good and effective way of dealing with fleas on your dog and in your home environment. Also be aware that some dogs are allergic to some types of flea products.
Choose your products carefully, and always go for high quality products that do not contain unnecessary chemicals, artificial ingredients and so on. Consult your vet for a good match for your dog.
You should also choose high quality foods that do not contain common food allergens such as soy, wheat or corn meal. Also avoid pork, chicken and beef byproducts.
The first ingredient in your dog food should be a meat meal.
Grains should make up a small percentage of the dog food formula. Meat ingredient should be in the form of either high quality meat or a high quality meat meal.
Some dogs also exhibit allergic symptoms when exposed to certain cleaning products and perfumes.
Just as with people, allergies may be triggered by exposure to certain materials. Observe your dog carefully to be sure that you will notice if he or she has a negative reaction to something around your household.
3. Use a consistent approach When Determining the Cause of Your Dog’s Allergy
It isn’t always easy to determine exactly what is causing a dog allergy. You may need to eliminate certain foods, change bedding, change flea products, avoid letting your dog be around people who smoke or any number of other changes. How can you keep track?
The key is to keep a written record of the changes you make and to only make one change at a time. Give each change at least a week before making any other changes. So for example, if you suspect a food allergy, you may want to switch from a beef, chicken or pork based food to a lamb based food. Wait at least a week or two before making any other changes.
If the food was the problem, you will have it solved. If not, make another change.
4. Be Sure to Consult Your Veterinarian
It’s always a good idea to have your veterinarian try and diagnose dog allergies. This can save you a lot of trial and error. Furthermore, if your dogs problem is not caused by allergies seeing your vet could save your dogs life.
For example, if your dog has been poisoned or has Parvo no amount of allergy troubleshooting on your part will help him!
If the problem is allergies, your vet will probably perform an intradermal skin test.
This is very similar to the type of allergy testing that is performed on humans. Based on the results of the testing, your vet will be able to provide your dog with just the right treatment. This can save a lot of time, money and discomfort.
For example, if your dog has a food allergy your vet may prescribe exactly the right food to address his needs. This will be helpful to you in that you will not need to try out a variety of different foods, perhaps to no avail.
5. Follow Your Veterinarian’s Instructions Precisely
If your dog does have a food allergy, and your vet prescribes a diet, you will need to feed only that diet. Be sure not to give your dog any treats unless your vet approves. This means no table scraps and no flavored medications unless your vet prescribes them. After an initial period of about three months, your vet will reassess the situation and may allow you to add other foods into the diet.
6. Control Environmental Allergens
Whether your dog is allergic to fleas or not, you will naturally want to stay on top of your flea population. It’s smart to have a good flea program in place all year round rather than treating only during the spring and summer. Choose compatible flea products for your dog and for your home environment.
Be sure to vacuum your home regularly and wash your pets bedding weekly. This will help eliminate fleas as well is dust mites which are common allergens for both people and pets.
7. Keep Your Dog Clean
Talk with your vet about how frequently to bathe your dog. Some people like to bathe their dogs once a week; however, this can be your attending to a dogs skin. Ask your vet for his or her recommendations regarding your pet. Be sure to use mild, gentle, nonallergenic products that will not cause further irritation.
8. Control the Air Quality in Your Home
If your dog is allergic to dust and pollen and other environmental contaminants, you may wish to invest in an air purifier and be sure to use HEPA approved filters in your air-conditioning system. This will benefit your health as well as your dog’s!
Whether or not your dog exhibits signs of allergies to cigarette smoke, it is a good idea to keep cigarette smoke out of your home and to keep your dog away from people who smoke. Cigarette smoke can cause all kinds of health problems in dogs just as it can in people.
In fact dogs whose owners smoke tend to have a much higher rate of lung cancer than dogs who belong to non-smokers.
9. Use Medications and Supplements As Directed by Your Vet
If your dog is allergic to environmental contaminants, your vet may recommend a series of allergy injections. You may be able to administer these yourself, or you may need to visit the vet to have them administered. An initial series of injections can help your dog build up a resistance to the allergen.
Prescription medications containing Cortizone can be useful in controlling dog allergies. Just as in humans, this type of medication should be used with care.
Your vet may recommend over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). This is useful in calming allergy symptoms in dogs just as it is in people.
Talk with your vet about the right dosage for your pet.
Supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil or fish oil may be helpful. This type of supplementation contributes to the health of the skin and coat.
10. Be Aware of Underlying Conditions
Serious problems such as bronchitis, pneumonia, mange, nutritional imbalance and others can manifest symptoms that look very much like allergies. This is why it is so important to get a proper diagnosis. If you are able to identify serious conditions early on, you will have much better chances of treating them successfully.
Most dogs do not have allergy problems, but in today’s world with increasing levels of environmental contaminants, chemicals and additives in foods, high levels of stress and other common causes of lowered immune function this is not a surprising development.
When you start out right by choosing a dog that is not likely to have allergies, you lower your chances of needing to deal with this problem. If your dog does develop allergies, seeking a proper diagnosis and administering prompt treatment is the sure path to success.