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Dogs have always been considered the best friends of a human since they were domesticated over 15000 years ago. They are smart and if you train them well, dogs can do almost anything. Over the years, there have been reports of dogs saving people, especially children. Because of their good nature, dogs must be well bred. However, a serious challenge facing dog owners is dog allergies.
Dogs are not like people who can easily tell what they are allergic to and find the necessary allergy medications. For dogs, it is up to the owner to figure out what the dog is allergic to and the symptoms relating to its allergy. There are four common dog allergies. These are categorized as food, flea, contact, and atopic allergies. For each, a dog will exhibit certain symptoms which a good owner can understand and interpret easily.
Atopy is one of the most concerned allergies for dogs and dog owners. This allergy is commonly caused by environmental factors such as dust mites, mold, house dust, feathers or pollen.
Signs and symptoms of atopy: licking and scratching of the face, paws, stomach, armpits and genital area. You will find evidence of this behavior when examining the paws, armpits and genital area of your dog. In these areas, reddish-brown spots are caused by excessive licking. This may not be obvious in dogs with dark coats. Atopy is not easy to diagnose because other dog allergies have the same symptoms. Once these other allergies to dogs (food, fleas, and contact) have been discarded, your veterinarian can continue to investigate the root cause of the atopy. The most accurate test method for atopy is the intradermal skin test.
Treatment / Healing: Teatments include cold water baths with medicated shampoo, antihistamines, allergy shots, corticosteroids or a diet high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
The most common symptom of food allergy is scratching, due to the irritation of the skin. Dog food contains a variety of ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction to your dog. Some of these ingredients are: Meats: Beef, Chicken, Pork, Lamb, Fish, Eggs, Diary products (Milk), Grains (Wheat, Whey), Corn.
Signs and symptoms: Most dog owners often scold their dog for scratching too much. Any obsessive behavior your dog demonstrates, such as constant scratching, chewing, licking, requires immediate attention. Never assume that this is just a new habit that your dog has adopted. Allergies to dogs can make your dog feel very uncomfortable. In addition to scratching, some of the other symptoms that dogs may experience include: sneezing, cough, runny and dry eyes, itching around the anus, alopecia, loss of appetite, tinnitus or head shaking, vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty to breathe.
Treatments: Isolating the allergen which causes the allergy is not easy because the dog is usually allergic to one specific ingredient in the food. So, it is important to isolate this ingredient. You can try this with an elimination diet for which most people do not have time or energy. The elimination diet requires the preparation of specially prepared meals that consist of more exotic meat, such as rabbit or game, mixed with rice or potatoes that are not normally found in dog food.
Dog allergies from fleas are not caused by the flea itself, but by the saliva of the flea. A common symptom of flea allergy is scratching the tail, which causes hair loss, scabs and wounds. Your veterinarian can easily diagnose a flea allergy by checking for fleas on the coat. Fleas can be seen with the naked eye. Intradermal Skin Testing can also be used to test for this type of allergy.
Signs and symptoms: redness and particularly behavior such as chewing the skin or rubbing parts of its body along the ground, are frequently indications of flea infestations. Many dog allergies are caused by fleas, and not just because of the ‘bite’. In fact, it is not so much the flea itself that causes the dog allergy but the flea’s saliva – this itches the dog’s skin, and the dog then scratches, leading to hair loss and redness of the skin.
Treatments: The fleas suck your dog’s blood that is why in order to relieve them you must use medicated shampoos and you must give them a bath in cold water. You should then follow up with a good contact flea treatment such as Frontline to remove the fleas and prevent the eggs reinfesting when hatched.
These are probably the least common dog allergies – this is when your dog becomes allergic to an item, like a particular type of blanket, or a plant, grass, or another item in his environment.
Signs and symptoms: This type of allergy causes swelling, redness, itching and hair loss. Common contact allergens include flea collars, plastic food trays, pet sweaters, plants, grass or wool bedding. The best way to diagnose this allergy is when symptoms continue after excluding all other allergies. If this is the case, you must locate the allergen and remove it from your dog’s environment.
Treatments: Dog allergy treatment for contact allergies are very similar to food allergies. Temporary relief will be obtained by using a standard treatment, but for long-term relief, simply eliminate the allergen.
Overview of the Different dog allergies treatments
Immunotherapy involves your dog receiving vaccinations that will help your pet’s immune system stop overreacting to the allergens in the air. The shots may take up to one whole year to be effective, but once that time passes, then most dogs (up to ¾ of dogs) are protected from allergies. Prior to going in for immunotherapy, your pet must have no steroids in his or her system.
The goal of using corticosteroids is to reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Though these are effective, they should be thought of to be a last-ditch effort to try and offer your pet some relief from the allergy symptoms he or she is dealing with.
- Symptomatic Therapy:
Of all the allergy in dogs treatment methods, this is the most homeopathic. Treating allergy of your dog symptomatically involves providing your dog with cool baths that may include the use of medicated shampoos, Epsom salts, or colloidal oatmeal.
Antihistamines are a popular choice amongst the allergy treatment methods as they are less expensive and are generally effective. Approximately 1/3 of all dog owners report that antihistamines have a positive effect on their pet, though this number is skewed by the fact that owners tend to give their pet far too low of a dose for it to be truly effective. Some antihistamines that you may want to consider giving your dog include Benadryl, Atarax, Seldane, and Tavist.