Dog Allergies - Symptoms and Treatment

Is your dog suffering from recurrent ear infections? Is it coughing and sneezing? If you have said yes to any of these questions, your dog may be suffering from a dog allergy. Read on to know about dog allergies, it's symptoms as well as the treatment options available.
| Monday, September 15, 2008

Like humans, dogs also suffer from allergies that cause it a lot of discomfort. To combat this problem and ensure that your dog is feeling fine, it is important to know about the types of dog allergies along with its signs and symptoms so that you are able get your precious pet treated on time.

Symptoms of Dog Allergies

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Hair
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Red Colored Scaly Patches
  • Excessive Scratching
  • Excessive Licking
  • Coughing and Sneezing
  • Discharge from the Eyes and Nose
  • Shaking of the Head
  • Pawing at the Ears
  • Problems in Breathing
  • Chronic and Recurrent Ear Infection
  • Excessive Chewing and Licking of its Paws
  • Shaking its Head

Types of Dog Allergies

If your dog displays any of the dog allergy symptoms referred to above, the first thing that is considered is a food allergy. If that is not the case, the dog is then checked for a flea allergy. If this too is negative then it is checked to find out if it is a contact allergy. If all the allergies mentioned here are ruled out, it is determined that the dog has an allergy known as an inhalant allergy.

Dog Food Allergy

This kind of allergy is mostly a reaction to proteins. Of course it is important to remember that most animals are not born with a food allergy, the reason this happens later is because their immune systems develop an allergic response over time to some ingredient present in their diet. You can try and figure out the cause of the food allergy by feeding your dog different diets. Here too you need to remember that the allergic affects can remain in its system for eight weeks, so you will need to continue the hypoallergenic diet for eight to twelve weeks to see how it reacts. You may also have to experiment with different diets till you find the one that does not cause an allergic reaction. While your dog is on these diets it is very important that it does not eat any treats. The cause of the food allergy can only be determined by feeding it the test diet exclusively for eight to twelve weeks!

Dog Flea Allergy

Most pets are affected by flea allergy. Flea allergy is caused not by the fleas themselves but by the proteins that they release in their saliva when they bite. A single flea bite can cause a flea allergy which may itch severely over five days. If you feel that your dog is allergic to fleas, you need to keep them away. You can do so by giving your dog frequent baths and treating your dog's environment. For further treatment of flea allergy you can consult your veterinarian who will help you select the appropriate flea repellent.

Contact Allergy

Contact allergy happens when a dog's skin is in contact to material that it is allergic to. The cause of the allergy maybe a woolen blanket or even the chemicals found in flea collars. The symptoms of this dog allergy are irritation of the skin, which may also itch, become thickened, have an odor or even hair loss due to scratching or constant biting. You can try to provide relief to your precious dog by removing materials that it comes in contact with until you find the one that irritates its skin.

Inhalant Allergy in Dogs

Like humans, dogs also suffer from hay fever, dust mites mold and mildew. The reactions caused by these allergens include severe itching, usually around the feet, groin, ears and armpits. It can also spread to other parts of the body! Since dogs constantly chew and scratch the affected skin, they may also develop hairless irritated spots.

Like other animals, dogs can also be allergic to more than one airborne particle. If you find that your dog's allergies are seasonal, you maybe able to control the allergy by limiting the time it spends outdoors during the allergy season. If the cause of the dogs allergy is indoors, you can try and keep it away from things it is allergic too. You can also invest in an air filter to provide it some relief!

Treatment for Dog Allergies

Dog allergies can sometimes be difficult to deal with, especially if you are unable to determine the exact cause of the allergy. It is in cases like this that the veterinarian comes into the picture, to help you find a remedy for your dog's allergy. Some of the treatments the veterinarian may suggest are:

Testing

To test for the cause of the allergy, the veterinarian may conduct a scratch or intradermal test, which involves making tiny abrasions in the animals skin and then inserting small quantities of materials that the veterinarian may feel is causing the allergic reaction. If the dog is allergic to the material inserted the immune system will react and cause the scratch to become inflamed. Blood tests are also used to determine the cause of the allergy.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines work by blocking the chemicals released by the immune system. They are used for treating dog allergies as they are safe to use and are effective at bringing down inflammation and itching. This form of treatment also has its drawback as it causes sedation which will make your pet sluggish and drowsy.

Immunotherapy

One of the safest and most effective methods used to treat allergies; immunotherapy takes more time to work. In this treatment, animals are given vaccinations that have small amounts of the substance that cause the allergy, regularly. This works to desensitize the immune system to the allergen, so as time goes by the immune system does not react in the same way to the allergen. This type of dog allergy treatment takes time, for instance about six to twelve months, till the dog shows any improvement.

Steroids

This kind of drug is administered to suppress the immune system and make the allergic reaction less severe. This treatment is especially helpful if the cause of the allergy is not determined. Steroids have many side effects such as increased thirst and urination, gain in weight as well as changes in behavior, which is the reason why it is generally used if the allergy occurs for a short time period. Long term use of steroids also makes animals more susceptible to seizures and diabetes.

Symptomatic Treatment

If the dog allergy treatments mentioned above are not as effective, you can do your own bit by treating the symptoms of dog allergy as they come. For instance you can use soothing shampoos that contain ingredients like epson salt or oatmeal. You can also consult your veterinarian about ear treatments, sprays and ointments that will make your dogs life comfortable. Remember not to try any treatment without consulting your vet. You can consider long-term treatment if the baths or other treatments do not provide comfort.

   
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