Did you know? Dogs also get allergies. Some may find it cute when their dog sneezes (honestly, it is adorable) but the truth is that our dogs are suffering. How to know if your dog has allergies? Watch out for the different symptoms.
But first, let us know more about allergies.
Allergies in dogs
According to veterinarian Ernest Ward, allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. It may be thought of as an unnecessary normal immune response to a benign foreign substance.
Allergens could be any every day substance such as dust mites, pollen, insect bite, perfume, or certain food ingredients that can exhibit extreme reaction to allergic dogs. These allergens may be harmless but when it comes in contact, their immune system will recognize them as dangerous, thus manifest the reaction.
Types of dog allergies:
Fast Fact: About 85% of dog allergies are caused by non-food related sources.
There are different kinds of allergies. Here, we divide them into two.
1. Food allergy
Food allergy is a gradual reaction to an ingredient in their dog food. Some dogs may be eating the same kind of food for years and may only develop allergy in the later part of their lives. Dogs may have grown sensitive to some ingredients in the food through time.
Food allergy can develop at any age.
Most dogs are allergic to poultry (chicken, turkey, eggs, etc.), beef, corn, wheat or milk.
Food allergy can be tricky. It takes an elimination process and a lot of trial and error in the diet to find out which causes the allergies and which kind of food works well for the hypersensitive dog.
The vet may recommend a diet trial with hypoallergenic trial. During this period (at least 8 weeks for all other products to be eliminated from the body), treats and vitamins should be discontinued. The dog must only be exclusively fed with the hypoallergenic diet.
Allergy or steroid medication may not really help in food allergy. Discuss with your vet diet restrictions and special diet to prevent occurrence of allergic reaction in your dog.
2. Skin allergy
Also known as allergic dermatitis, skin allergy is the most common type of allergic reaction.
Skin allergy is usually caused by:
Your dog may have an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva and not from the bite itself. The most common symptom seen in flea allergy is the excessive scratching on the back or base of the tail.
Food allergies as already discussed is an allergic reaction to a certain ingredient in the dog food.
Skin allergy is common during season change when the dog’s environment changes. A specific example is during spring when pollens are everywhere. Other environmental allergens are trees, grass, weeds, mold, dander, feathers, smoke, fabric or even the perfume you’re wearing.
The detergent soap you use to clean your dog’s blanket or the carpet can also be causing your dog’s allergy.
Allergy testing may be required to determine the allergen.
How to know if your dog has allergies?
Itchy, red, moist, scabbed skin and/or hives
Watery, goopie eyes
Itchy back or base of tail
Itchy ears and ear infections
Excessive scratching of face or body in furniture or carpet
Vomiting and/or diarrhea (for food allergies)
Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
Excessive and constant licking or chewing of paws
Swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyelids, or ear flaps
Fast Fact: If not treated immediately, allergies could lead to more serious
skin infections as scratching and chewing can open the skin to bacteria or yeast.
Dogs rarely but may also go into anaphylactic shock which can be fatal. Bee stings and vaccine reactions are common causes of this.
What can a fur parent do?
When you suspect that your dog has allergies, visit your veterinarian immediately so that proper testing and treatment can be given.
If the allergen cannot be identified after physical tests and history check, blood tests may be required. To eliminate food allergy, a special diet may be recommended.
During emergency, Benadryl may help. But allergy medicines and steroids may actually suppress your dog's immune system while having side effects. If used long term, they may worsen your dog’s reaction to allergens.
Natural is safer
The natural way is therefore, still your safest bet in treating your dog’s allergies.