Common Types of Dog Allergies and Their Remedies
While you may know that people can be allergic to dogs, it’s important to understand that our dogs can also suffer from allergies of their own. Dogs are prone to many of the same allergies that we humans suffer from. Whether allergies are caused by their environment or the food they are eating, it pays to know the common signs that they may be suffering from an allergy and how we might be able to treat them.
Signs that your dog may be suffering from an allergy can be apparent from subtle changes in their behavior or you may notice significant swelling or irritation around their face, feet, ears, lips, and other parts of their body. Certain allergies can also cause them to have itchy eyes, digestive problems, ear infections, runny nose, and sneezing fits. No matter what breed of dog you have, the unfortunate fact is that allergies are quite a common occurrence in all dogs.
Dog allergies can be life threatening in some cases and get quite expensive to treat if you don’t seek out the right treatment early. The best way to avoid having your dog suffer from allergies is to avoid common allergens, which of course is often easier said than done. Let us take a look at some of the most common allergens that affect dogs and ways you might be able to treat them.
Seasonal Allergies – Pollen and Plants
The environment your dog lives in can play a big role in whether they develop allergies. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies as the seasons change. As winter turns to the hot days of spring and summer, our dogs will most likely be spending more time outdoors and this makes them more susceptible to allergen such as tree and grass pollens. There are also other inhalant allergies that can be present indoors which can affect your pet such as mold, mildew, and dust mites.
While humans with seasonal allergies, like those caused by flowering plants, will commonly suffer from upper respiratory troubles, dogs often suffer from itchy skin instead and may rub their faces and scratch themselves in response to inhalant allergic dermatitis. While you won’t be able to cure your dog’s seasonal allergies, you can try anti-inflammatory therapy which uses corticosteroids or antihistamines to minimize the allergic reaction. You may also want to try bathing your pet when they come in from the outdoors, using a shampoo that has anti-inflammatory ingredients. There is also a process available called hyposensitization which involves giving your dog ongoing specific allergy shots recommended by your vet.
Many dogs suffer from food related allergies, especially those that are fed certain types of human food. That being said, common dog food varieties can also cause allergies in certain dogs. Common ingredients in dog foods that may cause allergies include beef, chicken, chicken eggs, soy, and seafood. Many dog owners have found that switching to a specific diet such as feeding their dog chicken free dog food has helped them to avoid allergic reactions.
Dogs can suffer from both food allergies and food intolerances. Signs that your dog may be suffering from either include chronic gas, inflamed ears, itchy feet, and respiratory distress. Nearly any protein or carbohydrate found within dog food varieties can cause an allergy so you must monitor your dog when giving them new food products.
The use of corticosteroids is usually ineffective for treating dogs with food allergies. What does often work is trying an elimination diet using a hypoallergenic diet. If your dog is suffering from a food allergy, your vet may recommend putting them on a specialized diet for up to 12 weeks to see if symptoms are relieved. If things clear up, you may be asked to stick to certain dog food varieties going forward.
Allergies from Insects and Mites
Spiders, mites, and insects can all be pesky problems for dogs when it comes to allergies. An inflammatory response which leads to allergic reaction in sensitive dogs can be caused by wasps, flies, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
Flea allergy dermatitis is caused by the saliva of the flea and is one of the most common types of allergic reactions caused by bugs in dogs. It’s usually quite obvious to spot if your dogs have mites or fleas, as they will have chronic bouts of itching. Ongoing strict flea control is essential to keep your dog free of fleas and other harmful critters. There are a number of effective oral tablet and topical treatments available to keep your pet healthy.
In some cases, antihistamines or corticosteroids may be prescribed to bring your dog instant relief and antibiotics given if they develop a secondary bacterial infection from open wounds caused from your dog over-scratching themselves. Also ask your vet about monthly treatments that can help prevent your dog from getting heartworm from mosquitoes or lungworm from slugs and snails.
Sometimes, normally harmless substances found around your home can cause irritation or inflammation in your dog. Many dogs suffer from such contact allergies which may or may not be seasonal. If you notice your dog getting rashes, blisters, losing hair, or any swelling, you may need to look if something they are coming in contact with around your house or yard is the cause.
Common sources of contact allergies in dogs include garden chemicals, certain dog shampoos, creams, flea collars, and specific fabrics whether they relate to furniture, carpets, or rugs. When you find out what is causing your dog to have a contact allergy, it’s important to give them a good bath to remove any traces of the allergen and then remove the object or substance which caused the reaction. Treatment may also involve the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, or prednisone.
We caution you to never try to self-diagnose your dog and instead opt for expert advice from your vet. What you may believe to be an allergy could be something more serious that requires much different treatment. Signs of allergies can often mimic other disorders. Treating allergies and other problems your pet may have is most successful when caught early, so don’t delay in getting your beloved pet a check-up if they are showing signs of distress.