Unfortunately, the instances of pet allergies are constantly rising. As with human allergies, animal reactions to air-borne allergens, foods and man-made products are become more and more frequent. In fact, it is believed that approximately one in seven dogs is affected by at least some form of allergy. Typically, canine allergies are indicated by a reaction of the skin, which leads to dryness, hives and itching. Obviously, the most effective way to treat canine allergies is to identify the substance that is causing the irritation and remove it, but this is not always as easy as it sounds.
Types of Canine Allergy
Of course, there are many things that can cause allergies in dogs, but canine allergies are typically divided into four categories.
Allergies caused by fleas, insects and other parasites; known as flea allergy dermatitis.
Allergies caused by the inhalation of pollen and other allergens; known as canine atopy.
Allergies caused by foods.
Allergies caused by direct contact with cleaning products and other substances that can cause irritation.
Often, these allergies will result in the development of hives, which are raised lumps on the skin that are incredibly uncomfortable and cause severe itching. Although hives in of themselves are not harmful, the subsequent scratching and biting can lead to legions of the skin and large sores, which can become infected very quickly. The resulting health problems can be extremely serious and, in some cases, fatal.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Obviously, the main symptoms to look for in your dog are excessive scratching, licking or biting. Sometimes, owners will notice that a dog is particularly preoccupied with the legs or paws. However, any part of the body can be affected. Other indicators include redness on the dog’s tummy, poorly conditioned coat and flaking skin.
In some instances, an allergy may lead to further problems, such as ear infections. Obviously, if left untreated this may lead to irreparable damage, so it is wise to seek the assistance of a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Of course, treating the symptoms of the allergy, such as an ear infection or itching, will only provide a short-term solution. In order to avoid repeated allergic reactions, an owner (with the help of a vet) will need to identify the precise cause of the allergy and ensure that contact with that substance is reduced as much as possible.
What is Causing my Dog’s Allergy
As mentioned above, a veterinarian will be able to help identify the cause, but in some instances, it is a case of trial and error. Owners can help by being vigilant to changes in the dog’s behavior. For example, noting when the itchiness begins, whether he, or she, has recently been for a walk, been fed, or bathed. Although this information may not help ascertain the exact cause, it will be incredibly helpful in ruling out certain substances.
Food allergies in particular are very difficult to diagnose and solve, because symptoms may not begin until several hours after eating and can last for days or even weeks. Therefore, unfortunately, preventing an allergic reaction to food can often be a case of repeated trial and error.
There are several treatment options, including prescribed medications and holistic approaches. Your veterinarian will obviously be able to advise on the best course of action. Depending on the type of allergy your dog is suffering from, a vet may prescribe antihistamines (similar to the ones used in human allergies), allergy shots or a course of corticosteroids.
If your dog seems to have particularly sensitive skin, you may like to try using a hypoallergenic dog shampoo, swapping your cleaning products to natural, non-toxic alternatives and adding more Omega-3 to the dog’s diet.
If you notice the symptoms of an allergy in your dog, it is important to seek help from a veterinarian, because it may be an indication of further health concerns and, if untreated, an allergy can cause great distress and discomfort to your pet.