If your dog is scratching all day long, you might be left scratching your head as to why he or she is doing it. While fleas could be to blame, allergies might also be playing a part.
Discover if dogs have allergies and how you can ease their discomfort.
Can Dogs Have Allergies? In short, yes. Candy Akers DVM, an holistic veterinarian specializing in holistic medicine in Elbert County Colorado practices holistic veterinary medicine and practices holistic medicine herself. “It appears that dogs’ allergies have increased more,” according to Candy.
Certain breeds of dog can be more likely to experience allergies than others, including Boxers West Highland White Terriers Labrador Retrievers Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.
How can you distinguish between normal scratching of dogs and allergy itching?
“Dog allergies can be difficult to identify for new dog owners,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Racine, a small animal veterinarian. It can be challenging separating between normal itching and allergies when scratching is the only relief available – although both forms can relieve symptoms at times.”
“Pets with allergies often scratch more often and intensely,” according to a veterinarian, and dogs suffering from allergies might never find relief regardless of how often they scratch.
Complicating matters further, there are various types of allergies for dogs; therefore, identifying what your canine is sensitive to can be more challenging. Some common examples are:
Environmental (seasonal) allergies; Flea and food allergy allergies; as well as, contact allergies are among the top 10 most frequently occurring health concerns, according to researchers at UCLA School of Public Health.
What Causes Allergies in Dogs
Are Your Pups Suffering From Allergies? Could freshly cut grass your pup has been playing on trigger their allergies to flare up, or could their eating habits cause an allergic reaction? Identifying what’s causing an allergy may take time if its food related, so take caution in trying to pinpoint their sources.
There are various triggers that may contribute to allergies in dogs. Here is a closer examination of some frequently-seen triggers categorized into types of allergies:
Environment Allergic Reactions
Dr. Akers notes that during fall and spring grass, pollen, and mold spores become more abundant, prompting allergic reactions in dogs who are particularly sensitive. Dr. Akers describes such allergies as potentially leading to excessive itching, red eyes with inflammation, swelling of dry skin on body as well as sneezing as well as respiratory issues for affected pets.
Flea allergy dermatitis in dogs is often a source of great concern. Hypersensitive dogs become hypersensitive to flea saliva, leading to an extreme allergic response when bit by fleas and leading to itchy, red skin patches or generalized irritation on their faces; some pets will even resort to scratching, biting and kissing themselves to seek relief, which may result in hair loss and skin irritations if left untreated.
Food Allergies Dog’s food allergies may be more difficult to detect. “Common allergens include chicken, beef and dairy proteins as well as grains such as corn, soy and wheat” according to Dr. Akers. Food allergy symptoms in dogs could include itching and rashes on their skin and digestive issues such as diarrhea and vomiting; food allergies are thought to be less prevalent than flea and environmental allergens.
Contact Allergies This type of allergy doesn’t seem as prevalent, yet could still have major ramifications on your pet’s wellbeing. Triggers for contact allergies could include cleaning products, carpet fibers, laundry detergents or shampoo ingredients in shampoos and flea collars as well as many other sources. When the trigger has been removed the symptoms should disappear but your vet may recommend further treatments in some instances.
Allergy Symptoms in Dogs Humans typically exhibit seasonal allergies as itchy, watery eyes as well as sneezing, itchy noses, coughing congestion and fatigue – symptoms which are similar for canines as described by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Skin allergies manifest themselves through hives, inflammation and eczema.
Dogs can experience some of the same allergy-related symptoms.
Have you noticed that one of the primary symptoms of allergies in dogs is itching? Other signs include:
They may have dry, inflamed skin (hot patches of localized inflammation), Hives and/or hair loss as symptoms from biting/scratching; infections may arise as a result of biting/scratching; infections can spread to ears with many sheds; eyes become watery from scratching/biting, watery eyes may occur during grooming sessions and there could be issues related to respiratory health (sneezing etc).
Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
If you suspect your pup is allergic or is showing symptoms similar to allergy, schedule an appointment with their vet immediately. They will perform a comprehensive physical exam and identify any parasites or skin diseases which might trigger similar symptoms as an allergy condition.
If environmental allergies are suspected, tests for allergies in dogs could be performed to identify allergens that could trigger an allergic response. According to Dr. Racine, intradermal skin testing is considered as one of the most reliable ways of determining severity. It is often used by veterinarians and dermatologists. Although tests for blood allergies exist as well, their accuracy could be less certain.
According to Akers. Akers.com, another way of discovering dog allergies is through saliva and fur tests.
If there is suspicion of food allergy, an elimination diet is the only sure way to confirm and pinpoint it. According to Dr. Racine, food allergies take time and only can be confirmed through elimination diets; they must then be carried out over time by both patient and veterinarian in tandem in order to test potential allergens over time. Together you create a plan which eliminates trigger ingredients suspected as contributing to reactions in order to see whether symptoms improve over time.
Treating Allergies in Dogs
There are various approaches available to combating allergies in dogs; the most appropriate one will depend on its source. Your vet may suggest an elimination diet if food allergies are the trigger; otherwise they could prescribe medications specifically tailored for environmental factors (atopic allergic dermatitis).
Dr. Akers reports that initial treatments for canine allergies often consist of remedies which directly address symptoms. According to him, this might include antihistamines, steroids and anti-inflammatory medications as well as immunosuppressants or chemicals which inhibit immune system activity. If your canine has developed an infection due to itching caused by allergy-induced scratching, they could receive antibiotics or antifungals from their vet as well as medicated shampoo as an additional short and long term solution to their skin allergies.
Alternative treatments like Acupuncture may provide assistance for treating dog allergies ( 1).
Additionally to treating symptoms, it’s essential to identify and address the root causes of your dog’s allergies.
If you suffer from allergies to the environment, make sure that as much of the allergen is removed as possible from your surroundings. There are products like itch relief shampoo and anti-scratch salmon oils or chews designed to boost allergy immunity available to help relieve symptoms, advises Dr. Racine.
If your dog has developed allergies to fleas, their veterinarian may suggest a tick and flea control product that kills existing infestations while helping prevent future outbreaks.
If your dog exhibits allergies to certain foods, it’s essential that you identify its source so as to make sure their meals and treats do not include allergenic components.
Lifestyle changes may help treat a dog’s allergic reactions. Dr. Racine notes that once an allergy trigger has been identified, lifestyle adjustments or elimination may prove effective in reducing any further allergic responses in future. If an animal reacts negatively to any substance or toy that contributes to discomfort, eliminating it in future could reduce any further reactions and alleviate discomfort for all concerned.
Home Remedies for Allergies in Dogs
It may be tempting to give your dog allergy medication like Benadryl or Claritin for dogs as an attempt to manage his or her allergies, according to Dr. Racine. Benadryl can be an effective treatment option for seasonal or skin allergies in canines, and Claritin for dogs as it reduces redness, hives and swelling as a result of allergic reactions; however it could lead to drowsiness if given in excess and should only be given according to veterinary instructions according to Dr Racine.
Claritin can also help treat allergic reactions in dogs, though not often recommended by veterinarians as it often contains pseudoephedrine which is harmful for canines, notes Dr. Racine. For this reason, Zyrtec (cetirizine) is usually more secure compared to Benadryl or Claritin.
Before giving your pup any medications, always consult their vet first.