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Dog Allergies

07 May 2013 | by | Posted in: Health

Buddy, a Labrador retriever was always scratching and licking near his feet. His owner, Atin, did not know what to do about it. But he could make out that something was driving his one and half year old dog crazy. He took him to the vet for finding some answers. Atin guessed that his dog licked his feet because of severe itching. Was Buddy suffering from any allergy? Was he infected with fleas? Atin was told by the vet that an itchy foot is a classic symptom of pollen allergy. Like Atin, most of the dog owners do not know about the signs and symptoms of allergies which can occur in their dogs.  

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to be aware of the common dog diseases which can occur in your dog.  There are several diseases which can be treated with proper medications and vaccination. Most of the time, identifying symptoms related to the diseases occurring in dogs is the first step towards management of such diseases. Allergy is something which can occur in a dog’s life at any time. Here I would discuss various kinds of allergic reactions which can occur in dogs and their treatment.

Just like human beings, dogs can also have allergic reactions when their immune system identifies certain substances as allergens.  These allergens are present all around our environment.  When inhaled or when come in contact a dog’s skin, these allergens cause allergic reactions.  The symptoms which appear during any allergic reaction are due to the immune system’s response to these allergens. 

dog allergiesSymptoms of Allergies in dogs

·  Itchy, scratched, moist or red skin

·  Runny eyes

·  Increased scratching

·  Itchy back or base of tail

·  Itchy ears

·  Ear infections

·  Sneezing

·  Vomiting

·  Snoring

·  Swollen paws or Paw chewing

·  Constant licking

Dogs suffering from allergic reactions can also have secondary skin infections caused by bacteria or yeast. The symptoms can be identified in the form of scabs and hair loss on the skin.( Dog Skin Diseases )

Allergic reactions can occur in all dogs. However, the breeds which have higher risk of getting allergies are setters, terriers, retrievers, pugs, Boston terriers and bulldogs.

Some common allergens

·  Pollens

·  Mold spores

·  Dust mites and dust

·  Feathers

·  Dander

·  Smoke, cigarette  smoke

·  Food allergens such as wheat or soy, chicken, beef or pork

·  Some drugs

·  Flea control products

·  Flea

·  Perfumes and household cleaning products

·  Fabrics

·  Flea control shampoo

·  Plastic or rubber materials

If you suspect of the above listed symptoms in your dog, take him to the veterinarian. He will take the entire medical history or your dog and thereafter will do a physical examination. He may or may not diagnose the cause of allergic reaction. In case he is not able to identify the cause, he will recommend a laboratory test of your dog’s skin and blood. He may also recommend a diet change.

 It takes some time to diagnose whether a food is causing allergic reaction in a dog. Generally dogs with food allergy will suffer from itchy skin, breathing difficulties, diarrhoea and vomiting. In such cases, elimination of the food he is eating will identify the allergens or what food substance he is allergic to. When you have identified the food which he is allergic to, eliminate that product from his diet.

The common ways to reduce allergens at home:

· Before the flea season starts, make sure you have started using flea control product on your pet. Prevention is the best way to manage allergens at home. Remember, dogs can very easily get infected with flea from outside environment. Hence you should meet your vet and take advice about flea control products.

· If your pet is allergic to dust, make sure you clean his bud once a week. It is best to vacuum your once a week. Clean your rugs, carpets and curtains.

· Bathe your dog once a week. This will reduce environmental allergens which he can be susceptible to. It will also reduce pollens. Weekly bathing can also reduce itching. Take recommendations from your pet about which dog shampoo to use and how frequently you should bathe him. A wrong shampoo can dry out his skin. Generally for places which are very humid, it is not advisable to bathe your pet very frequently.

In some cases, you cannot remove the allergen from environment. In such cases, it is best to use medications to control the reaction of allergens on your pet.  In case of environmental allergens like pollens, your vet will prescribe shots to reduce itching. Anti-allergy shots help in providing resistance to the activity of allergens.  Benadryl, anti-histamine is found very useful in treating allergies in dogs. However, you must ask your vet before using this medicine. At times, vets also prescribe fatty acid supplements to reduce itching. There are shampoos which help in reducing dry skin. Sprays containing moisturizing elements are also used for itchy skin. Vets also prescribe immune modulating substances. In case of severe allergic reactions, doctors may prescribe cortisone.( When And How of Pet Medication )

Sometimes, a dog may be allergic to cigarette smoke and perfumes. It can also cause bronchitis. Generally dogs which are allergic to perfumes or strong smelling products start sneezing. If a dog is having consistent cough, it might be due to mucus deposition in air way.  Treatment which is given for such conditions includes antibiotics, medicines to open breathing pipe and anti-inflammatory drugs. Do not let your dog get exposed to cigarette smoke.

Insect bite allergy in dogs

Insect bite allergy in dogs is a severe inflammatory response to an insect bite. Spiders, ticks, deerflies, horse-flies, mosquitoes, bees, ants, wasps, hornets and black-flies can cause allergic reactions in sensitive dogs. Saliva from flea is the most commonly found allergen. Most of the dogs experience local discomfort and itching due to flea-bites. Local itching causes dogs to continuously bite and scratch their skin. They also remove a large amount of hair from their tail region. A secondary bacterial infection can also take place in the scratched skin. The area which is commonly involved is the tail base extending further to the hind leg.

Here is a method to relieve immediate itching discomfort in dogs suffering from flea bites:

· Soak a clean towel or cloth in cold water and squeeze it on the irritated skin of your dog. If your dog is agreeable, you can also soak him in cold water.

· You can also add a handful of oatmeal powder in the cold water. This may ease some of his itch. Oatmeal acts as lubricant on skin and keeps it from drying out. You can use regular oats or ready to cook oats after grinding in blender.

Allergy is something which we will have to tackle from time to time. It is one of the common problems in a dog’s life. I would say that you are solely responsible for the management of your dog’s health problems.  Remember, there is no quick-fix! If your dog has been diagnosed with any form of allergy and is getting shots or medications, it is your responsibility to control in exposure to the allergens.

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