One of the most common diseases, if it can be scientifically considered a disease, is allergies in dogs. Because of new eating habits, excessive pollution and products in our dog’s environment, the number of allergies has increased very significantly in recent years.
But how can you identify an allergy? And more importantly, what should you do if you do find an allergy? Let’s review the main symptoms caused by allergies in dogs and what steps should be taken to fix the problem.
What are allergies in dogs and what are the symptoms?
An allergy is your dog’s immune system response against a foreign element in his body called an allergen. This immune response is what causes the symptoms that you notice in your dog which tell you that you are dealing with some type of allergy.
The main symptoms in dogs with some kind of allergies are:
- Irritation or redness of the skin: Anywhere, but especially between their toes and footpads, as well as on the inside of the ears which will look reddish.
- Rashes, skin breakouts and sores: Anywhere, but usually on the abdomen, legs and ears.
- Inflammation: Small or large bumps on your dog’s body, singly or in groups of small bumps.
- Shaking and/or sneezing: Your dog will shake excessively with his body or head, a sign that something is bothering him. Allergies can also cause excessive sneezing in your dog.
- Vomiting and diarrhea: Sometimes accompanied by weight and/or appetite loss, weakness and feeling blue.
- Hair loss: Excessive hair loss and the appearance of small or large welts on his body.
- Eyes swollen or red: If the area around the eye is red or has a rash, or if the eye is inflamed or weeping, it can be a clear symptom of an allergy.
Although these are the most common symptoms, there are many others that could also indicate an allergic response, which we won’t discuss in detail here so as not to cause confusion with other diseases.
It’s usually easy to detect an allergy in a dog; they usually have reddened ears and paws (if you look at the membranes that are between their toes). It can also be identified by the appearance of lumps, rashes or red spots, excessive itching, etc.
If you observe any of these symptoms, don’t play “home vet” and try to solve the problem on your own. You should go to your veterinarian to have your dog checked out, confirm the diagnosis and get a prescription for the appropriate medications, since allergies usually don’t go away by themselves.
What causes allergies in dogs?
Although the origin of an allergy may sometimes be untraceable, allergies in dogs are usually divided into three groups:
- Food allergies: Caused by feeding your dog with a product/additive that he is allergic to.
- Allergies through contact: Caused when your dog comes into contact with an insect or plant he is allergic to or because of their bite/sting. Also through contact with certain chemicals that are common in our society, occasionally even from the use of a shampoo containing the substance.
- Allergies through inhalation: Caused when they breathe in some particle or pollen they are allergic to, just like in humans.
How to cure or prevent allergies in my dog?
First of all, to treat an allergy you must go to your trusted veterinarian to examine the dog and prescribe the appropriate treatment, no ifs ands or buts. I assure you that an allergy can’t be cured with home remedies or inventions of urban legends.
An allergy that goes unattended by a veterinarian can worsen in a matter of hours and can even kill your dog. It is not something to be taken lightly, the dog must be examined and given a treatment according to the severity of his allergies, his weight and symptoms.
Below, we’ve put together some tips to try to determine the source of the allergy, or if that’s not possible, to try to avoid it.
Food allergies in dogs
These are definitely the most common. More and more dogs have intolerances to certain ingredients used in commercial feed and you should follow some simple guidelines to determine which ingredient or ingredients are to blame for this reaction.
You should give your dog the same type of hypoallergenic dog food, grain-free and if possible with a single source of protein, exclusively for at least two consecutive months.
Hypoallergenic dog food with a single source of protein such as lamb or salmon are best, as they are also highly digestible. The dog food must be high quality; with allergies, it’s no good to buy a 30lb bag of food for $15.
Obviously, your vet will be the one to best advise you on what type of food you should use and how to use it.
Alternatively, you can get an allergy test for your dog with blood tests, which will indicate or may give some clue as to which foods he is allergic to (although often the allergy comes from foods like yeast or other foods that aren’t typically checked in these tests, so the results could be negative but the dog could still be allergic to a particular food or food substance).
To find out if you’re using a quality hypoallergenic dog food, you have to look at the label where it has the composition of the food. We’ve written a simple guide so you can see the quality of dog food you use: What is a good dog food?
Allergies in dogs through contact
There are many plants that can cause allergies in a dog, just like with humans. The strangest cases of allergies are environmental, which cause a reaction in dogs but are extremely difficult to detect.
Some dogs are allergic to grass, something very easy to identify because every time he plays or walks over a grassy area, he’ll show certain symptoms of allergies.
But other plants that are less common or grow only during certain months of the year could also be the cause of the allergy. And as you can imagine, these are extremely complicated to detect, so with contact allergies in some cases you can locate the source very easily, and in others you simply can’t determine the cause.
On the other hand, there are contact allergies to insects or parasites or their bites. For example, fleas can cause allergies in your dog; when they bite, the parasites leave some saliva inside the skin of your dog that can cause allergies, same with their feces.
A spider bite can also cause an allergy, just like that of a tick. There are hundreds of insects that can cause allergies in dogs. So it’s a wise move to prevent at least certain parasites using special collars or pipettes.
Allergies in dogs through inhalation
These types of allergies are very common in humans, especially in spring when thousands of plant species release their pollen. The same happens to our dogs, and they can be victims of respiratory allergies or grass pollens.
But these aren’t the only causes of allergies; tobacco smoke, smoke from cars or certain chemical fumes such as hair spray, insecticides (even the ones that you plug in), or pollution in general may be the cause of an allergic reaction .
Do allergies last forever in dogs?
Some allergies require lifelong treatment while others are only seasonal. For example, an allergy to chicken (food allergy) will probably be for life, and although it doesn’t require any special medication, obviously your dog can’t ever eat chicken again.
By contrast, an allergy to dust mites, pollen or a chemical present in the environment may be continuous and require medication for long periods of time, sometimes even for life.
We must insist that the best solution to an allergy is to go to your trusted vet to perform the appropriate tests. He or she can detect the source of the allergy and let you know the necessary steps to prevent it, as well as provide you with the correct medication to prevent health complications in your dog.
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