Dog Allergies and How to Combat Them
2 October, 2015

Dogs, like humans, can have allergies when something in the environment, their food, or fleas attacks their bodies or immune system.  Even if the cause itself is not inherently dangerous, your dogs can potentially have an extreme reaction to the specific allergy.   And, usually, it will make your dog miserable! As with any allergy or irritation, the first place to start is with your veterinarian to determine the type of allergy your dog might have and how to treat it. 

If your dog has any of the below symptoms, he or she might have an allergy:

Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin; excess scratching, itchy, runny eyes, itchy back or tail, sneezing, itchy ears, diarrhea, paw chewing, constant licking and/or swollen paws.

If your dog’s itchy, red or irritated skin persists beyond the initial treatment by a veterinarian, allergy testing, most often performed by a veterinary dermatologist or holistic veterinarian is usually recommended

Relieving symptoms without addressing the source of the problem is a short term fix to what can become a lifelong health problem. And certain drugs used to stop the allergic cycle have significant, potentially very serious side effects, especially those for fleas.

If your dog is allergic to fleas, you can try natural treatments that are available

The best treatment for allergies caused by fleas is to start a flea control program for all of your dogs before the season starts. Remember, outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your veterinarian for advice about the best flea control products for your dog and the environment.  Ask your vet if an all-natural pest repellent like Natural Flea and Tick Defense during flea season would help cure the fleas.

If you know fleas are a problem for your dog, try combing your dog’s hair at least once daily, every day during pest season with a flea comb. Do this on a white towel or other light colored cloth so you can see what’s coming off your dog as you comb.

Bathe your dog often.  A soothing bath will kill any fleas on your dog, help heal skin irritation, and make her feel more comfortable and less itchy. Also, clean animals aren’t as attractive to fleas. Pick a non-grain (no oatmeal) herbal shampoo.  Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can dry out skin.

Your dog might have food allergies which can develop from routine feeding

If your dog has an allergy to something he’s eating, it may show itself not only as digestive upset (gas, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.), but also as one or several of the symptoms listed above.

If you think your dog is sensitive to something in his or her diet, it could be that by eating the same food every day for months or years, there’s a good chance your dog has developed an allergy to it. Your dog could be sensitive to the single source of protein she’s been getting from your specific food. Or your dog could have becomes sensitive to certain ingredients in the food usually grains and other carbohydrates.

The only way to diagnose a food allergy is to feed your dog a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet exclusively for 8 -12 weeks. This means no treats, table food or flavored medication and only the prescribed diet (which is hard but can be done)! The diet will be free of potential allergy-causing ingredients and will ideally have ingredients your dog has never been exposed to. Your dog will stay on this diet until his symptoms go away and then you can start to reintroduce old foods to see which ones might be causing the allergic reaction.

Your dog could also be allergic to irritants in your home or outside

Your dog can also be allergic to any of the different irritants in the environment. These can be outdoor allergens like grasses and pollens, as well as indoor irritants like mold, dust mites, cleaning chemicals and even fabrics like wool or cotton.  As a general rule, if your dog is allergic to something inside your home, he’ll have year-round symptoms. If he’s reacting is to something outdoors, it could very well be a seasonal problem.

Below are some recommendations to help:

Make sure your dog’s indoor air environment is clean and don’t allow smoking around your pooch. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products. Consider investing in an air purifier to control dust mites.

Make sure your dog’s drinking water is high quality and doesn’t contain fluoride, heavy metals or other contaminants.

If you suspect something outdoors is irritating your dog, in between baths, do foot soaks. Chances are the allergen is coming inside on your pet’s feet.  He or she can’t escape it and then it’s being spread around your home.

Try adding a fatty acid supplement might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. There are also shampoos that may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in dogs with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available.

With time, effort and patience, you can pinpoint the source of your dogs’ allergies and then provide the correct treatment.



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