Just like we humans suffer from allergies, dogs also suffer from allergies and can exhibit many of the same symptoms. For example, itching is something that we consider “normal” behavior in dogs, but constant itching for prolonged periods of time should be considered a warning bell. The most common dog allergies comes from certain substances that are found in dog food, but there are also environmental factors as well, such as dust mites and pollen which can cause a dog to chew or bite itself excessively, along with allergies to fleas. Though allergies in dogs are quite common, tests are often needed to single out the cause as our pets cannot verbalize their discomfort.
When it comes to testing for dog allergies, there are two main types of tests that your veterinarian can run. The most common is the blood test that will check for antigen-induced agents in your dog’s blood stream. With blood tests there are two standard tests that are followed, the first is called RAST, or radioallergosorbent, and the other is ELISA or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Both of these tests are very similar, but ELISA is considered more accurate with its results when testing for a specific antigen.
The other type of testing is called intradermal skin testing and with this test, a small amount of antigen is injected directly into the skin of the dog and after a short waiting period, the skin around where the injection occurred is studied to see if there is any allergic reaction. Typically with this type of testing, the dog is sedated and the injections are administered in a specific order so that if a reaction does occur, the antigen responsible can be easily identified.
There are several different ways that dog allergies can be treated, from practicing avoidance, to using topical creams and B-Vitamins. Avoidance can be very important when it comes to managing your dogs allergies since many allergens can be significantly reduced with very minimal effort. Avoidance is rarely a complete treatment and is often used along with other remedies. Topical therapy consists of shampoos, rinses and anti-itch solutions and relief is immediate, albeit short term. Dogs with allergies should be bathed once every two weeks with a hypoallergenic shampoo. And finally, Biotin is one of the B-Vitamins that are shown to give dogs that suffer from dry skin much improvement. Biotin is very safe and there are no side effects.