Among the most common dog allergies are environmental allergies, similar to humans. These could include pollen in the air or dust in the environment. Other allergens can be found in food, and many dogs also suffer from flea allergy dermatitis. In some cases, even a single flea bite can cause a systemic reaction in dogs with a hypersensitivity to fleas, despite being on flea medication.
Dr. Heather Rally
Green Dog Dental and Wellness
Allergies can cause dogs to be very uncomfortable and may even lead to more serious health concerns. Dogs with severe allergies may constantly lick and scratch themselves, resulting in hot spots on the skin and secondary bacterial infections. Additionally, allergies can lead to ear infections and dermatitis in dogs.
Common signs of allergies in dogs include ear infections, chewing at the paws, and salivary staining on the fur (especially for white dogs). Other signs of general itchiness may also be present, such as scratching or licking themselves.
While you can observe and take note of your dog's allergy symptoms, it is important to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The information you provide about your dog's symptoms and habits will be helpful for the veterinarian to determine the cause of the allergies and recommend treatment options.
Veterinarians typically diagnose allergies through a physical exam, looking for common signs and symptoms. They may also try a trial of allergy medication to see if it helps, or recommend a food elimination diet trial if a food allergy is suspected. In more complicated cases, a veterinarian may refer you to a dermatologist for further evaluation.
Some shampoos can help alleviate allergy symptoms in dogs, particularly if they are experiencing secondary dermatitis or bacterial infections. Shampoos containing soothing compounds can help dogs with dry, flaky skin caused by chronic allergies. While shampoo may not cure the allergy, it can be included in a comprehensive therapeutic plan.
Hyposensitization or desensitization therapy involves gradually introducing small doses of the allergen to your dog's system to help them become less sensitive to it. This process can reduce or even eliminate allergy symptoms in some cases. However, it typically requires referral to a veterinary allergist and a definitive identification of the allergen.
Yes, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies, similar to humans. Symptoms may come and go throughout the year, particularly if they are related to pollen or other seasonal allergens.
While some allergy symptoms are similar between dogs and humans, dogs may experience unique symptoms such as recurrent ear infections and paw chewing. These symptoms may not be immediately recognized as allergy-related by dog owners, as they are not as common in humans.
Common treatments for dog allergies include desensitization therapy, food elimination diet trials, medication to control symptoms, and treating any secondary infections (such as ear infections). The specific treatment plan will depend on your dog's individual needs and the cause of their allergies.
Some medications such as Benadryl can be safely used for dogs with allergies, though they may not be as effective as they are for humans. Other medications that interact differently with a dog's immune system may be more effective for controlling allergy symptoms. Your veterinarian will discuss the best options for your dog based on their specific needs.
Maintaining a clean and sanitary home environment can help reduce allergens for dogs with environmental allergies. This may include using air purifiers to control airborne allergens, and ensuring your dog has access to fresh air. Regular cleaning and dusting can also help minimize allergens in the home.
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