Have you noticed your dog scratching a lot? In dogs, this could mean that your pet has some sort of allergy. In animals, allergies are a fairly common condition. VETMED wants you to know how to identify the possibility of allergies in dogs and how allergies can be treated in pets.
Types of Allergies
Much like humans, dogs can develop different types of allergies. Each type is caused by different factors, but there are three that are the most common:
Flea Allergy Dermatitis: All dogs will be itchy if they have fleas, but for dogs with a flea allergy, the bites from those little pests are even more severe. Flea saliva can cause extreme itchiness, generally near the base of the tail. A dog’s skin may also be red, inflamed, and scabbed.
Food Allergies: Dogs can have food sensitivities just like people. When dogs have food allergies, they might have gastrointestinal distress as well as itching, which can be localized to the ears and paws. In extreme cases, food allergies can also cause anaphylaxis. Some of the most common food allergies for dogs are beef, chicken, eggs, wheat, corn, milk, and soy.
Environmental Allergies: Dust, pollen, and mold can cause problems for all kinds of creatures, and dogs are no exception. These and other environmental allergies can cause atopic dermatitis or allergic reactions. They can be seasonal or only affect your pet when they are near the allergen. Like with food allergies, itchiness is often localized to the ears and paws, but it can also include the snout and eyes, underarms, groin, forearms, and ankles. These allergies can even be inherited from a parent.
Symptoms of Allergies
Due to the commonality of allergies in dogs, it is important that dog owners know what the symptoms are. Typically, allergies won’t appear until after six months of age. In fact, most dogs don’t develop allergies until they are over one or two years old. Here are the symptoms of allergies in dogs:
- Localized or generalized itchiness
- Coughing or wheezing
- Runny nose
- Discharge from eyes
- Swelling or anaphylaxis
- Vomiting or diarrhea
While itchiness, respiratory problems, and other skin-related problems can signify numerous types of allergies, vomiting and diarrhea typically only occur when your pet has a food allergy.
It is also important to remember that allergies can put your dog at risk for secondary infections. Often, dogs scratch, bite, and lick at their skin, which can cause open sores that bacteria can infect. For these reasons, yeast and bacterial infections can occur in dogs with allergies.
Diagnosing and Treating Allergies
Diagnosing allergies starts with eliminating other conditions that could be causing the itchiness your pet is battling. If your veterinary dermatologist believes the symptoms could suggest allergies, they can do an allergy test on your dog. While allergy tests can be helpful, they don’t always determine the allergen.
Flea allergies are one of the easiest to diagnose as it requires applying a product that will kill the fleas on your dog’s body before they bite your pet. If the problem is solved, your dog is allergic flea bites.
In the case of food allergies, dogs are often put on an elimination diet, which requires the owner to feed the dog only one source of protein and carbohydrate for 6 weeks. If the first round doesn’t solve the issue, your veterinary dermatologist can suggest a new diet to try.
When it comes to treating allergies, there are different approaches. The best way to treat most allergies is to keep your dog away from the allergen, but that isn’t always possible. To treat a flea allergy, you will want to kill all the fleas on your dog and use flea and tick prevention in the future. Food allergies will require a change in diet.
In some instances, your pet may need a medication that can help control the symptoms of an allergic reaction. These medications are helpful in treating environmental allergies that your dog can’t avoid. The medications can end itching and irritation, while also preventing secondary infections that can develop from the scratching.
If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, and believe your dog has allergies, contact VETMED at 602-697-4694 to schedule an appointment with a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. The dermatology team at VETMED is equipped to diagnose and treat allergies of all kinds, as well as skin conditions, skin cancer, and infections. If your dog is having a severe allergic reaction, you should visit an emergency veterinarian right away. VETMED is open 24/7 for emergency care, no appointment needed.