What are allergies?
Allergic reactions in dogs are the same as they are in humans. Dogs react to certain allergens just like humans do. Allergic reactions may be triggered by a variety of allergens such as environmental allergens, chemicals, food and parasites.
Any dog can develop an allergy throughout his/her life span. Breeds commonly prone to allergies include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinchers, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Standard Poodles, English Setters, and Pit Bull Terriers.
Some common symptoms of allergies::
• Excessive licking
• Compulsive scratching
• Chewing on body parts
• Rubbing the body or body parts against the ground, walls, furniture, etc.
• Skin irritation/fur loss
• Discharge from eyes and/or nose
• Ear infections
Some common allergens are:
• Chemicals and cleaning products
• Shampoos and hygiene products
• Rubber, plastics, and other synthetic materials
• Natural and synthetic fabrics
• Fleas and flea treatment products
• Tobacco smoke
• Bird feathers
• Pollen from trees, plants, grass, and weeds
• Pharmaceutical medications
• Food – such as meats, grains, and nuts
The first step in discovering exactly what is causing an allergic reaction is to take the dog to a veterinarian for a thorough examination. The veterinarian will examine the dog for external parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites. If no obvious cause is found, the vet may want to explore further as there are many different allergens which may be causing the dogs condition.
Treatment & Prognosis
There are many types of treatment and include the combination of oral medication, bathing, topical therapy, etc. Treatment will depend largely on the symptoms and the severity of the condition as well as any pre-existing condition. Allergy medicine for dogs may involve one or more of the following types of therapies:
• Anti-inflammatory therapy: Corticosteroids and antihistamines.
• Food and Dietary supplements: Protein select diets and supplementation of fatty acids.
• Shampoo therapy: Bathing to remove the antigens as well as dead skin cells and help
treat secondary infections. Some therapeutic shampoos contain anti-inflammatory
Allergies cannot be cured. There are several ways in which you can prevent a dog from developing allergies and managing existing allergies. Apart from medical treatment, the following habits are beneficial to the dog’s health and wellbeing, regardless of allergies:
• Keep your dog free from external parasites such as ticks and fleas. There are many products available.
• Clean your pets bedding and toys at least once a week, more often if required. Also, vacuum all carpets, curtains, rugs and upholstery regularly to reduce airborne allergens.
• Make sure your dog is well groomed. Regular brushing will help keep his/her coat free of allergens.
• Avoid harsh chemicals in your home. All cleaning chemicals as well as air fresheners, insecticides and grooming products could act as allergens.