How to recognize, treat and prevent canine allergies.
Dogs are prone to all kinds of canine allergies, and as your dog can’t tell you that there’s something bothering him, it’s up to you to notice the symptoms and to take action.
With allergies this is easy. Humans respond to allergens in a number of ways – by sneezing, runny nose and eyes, hives, itching etc. With dogs the response is almost always itching, and when a dog itches, he scratches.
Many dog owners assume that when a dog scratches he has fleas, and while this may well be the case, more often than not, it is an allergic reaction.
Aside from persistent scratching, you should also be alert for any of these symptoms, which may indicate an allergy in your dog – licking and chewing on paws, rubbing the face on the carpet, hair loss, mutilated skin and recurrent ear infections.
Causes of Canine Allergies
Most canine allergies come down to 3 causes, fleas, food, and inhalants.
Canine Flea Allergies
Flea bites are responsible for most canine allergies. Most dogs aren’t allergic to the flea itself, but rather to the saliva left in the bite wound.
For a dog that is allergic to flea bites, a single bite can be agony, setting off an allergic reaction that causes a severe skin rash and blistering. If a single bite can cause that, you can only imagine what a flea infestation is like for your dog.
It is therefore highly recommended that you treat your dog with a good-quality, topical flea medication, like Frontline, monthly. In most cases this will keep your dog free of these parasites.
Also remember to treat the environment, particularly flooring and skirting boards where the larvae love to hide. An appropriate insecticide, along with regular vacuuming will generally do the trick. Be sure to only use insecticide products that are safe for your pets.
Canine Food Allergies
The second most common canine allergy is related to diet. The most common culprits here are wheat, corn, and soy, and unfortunately, these form the base of many commercially available dog foods.
Signs of a food allergy include; diarrhea, sneezing, licking or chewing at the paws, rubbing the face on the carpet, dragging the rear end on the ground, shaking of the head, and scratching the ears. In severe cases, you’ll even notice signs of lethargy and depression in your dog.
If any of these symptoms is present, you should speak to your vet. The vet will run some tests to see if a food allergy is indeed the cause of your dog’s problems. Quite often, a simple change of diet is all that is needed to clear up the problem.
Canine Inhalant Allergies
Another common cause of canine allergies is caused by substances that your dog inhales. Pollen, molds, and dust mites can all cause an allergic reaction in a dog. If you notice that your dog is more affected by allergies at certain times of the year, it may be that he is suffering from an inhalant allergy.
Symptoms of inhalant allergy include itchiness of the groin, armpits, feet, and flanks. The dog will constantly scratch and chew at these areas, often creating hot spots and other secondary infections. The skin and coat might take on a greasy texture and give off a pungent odor.
Unfortunately, no cure has yet been found for inhalant allergies. The best solution is to avoid the allergen, but this may prove impossible.
Steroids are effective in relieving skin irritation and itching, but may have negative side effects. Other, safer options are Cyclosporine A, antihistamines and fatty acids.
Allergies may seem minor when compared to other canine diseases, but they cause your dog great discomfort, and can lead to other behavioral, and health problems. If your dog suffers from canine allergies, your best course of action is to speak to your vet.