So, you have an allergic dog or you suspect that your dog has allergies?
In fact, Allergy is one of the main reasons dog owners visit Dr.google and it’s the third most likely reason for pet owners to visit the vet (Now you may understand, why many veterinary health insurance policies will not fully cover vet allergy visits).
Many dog owners will say that dog allergies are a headdesk and the most disturbing health problem a pet can have. But, Guess what, it’s an all too common condition and is been estimated that almost 20% of dogs suffer from allergies, with increasing tendency.
At any major veterinary seminars, you can count on packed attendance in any lecture entitled, “latest help for allergies,”.
But regrettably, most of these lectures are simply the same old stuff and a blow horn for pharmaceutical companies to find more and more ways to turn off or suppress parts of the nervous system and immune system.
Allergies hardly ever go away but that isn’t to say that there is nothing that can be done for your furry friends.
The good news is there are many options for animals with allergies. There are lots you can do before you to see a vet for more of those potent, expensive and undoubtedly not harm-free drugs.
How Can You Find If Your Dog Has Allergies?
A human’s allergic “organ”, let us say, is mainly their respiratory tract. So when we have allergies, we usually sneeze, cough, have itchy, runny nose or itchy, red, watering eyes etc.
On the contrary, a dog’s main allergic “organ” is their skin, so if their allergic reaction is acute they scratch or whelps or get hives. What’s more, Humans may also have allergic issues with their skin and Dogs can have their respiratory tract ablaze.
Much like humans, dog allergies have varying degrees of severity. Let us focus on the most common manifestations of allergies in dogs = Skin problems.
- Skin – Pruritus (itching), redness or hot spots, red stained or mutilated skin, waxy discharge with unpleasant odor, hair loss, thickened or greasy skin.
- Ears – Recurring ear infections, Scratching the ears, redness and waxy discharge.
- Paws – Licking, chewing the feet/pads, gnawing on the paw.
- Belly or Genitals – Excessive licking and scratching sides, hair loss and red stained skin in licked spots.
- Digestive System – Vomiting, stomach upset and diarrhea.
- Face – Scratching/Rubbing the face, red eyes with hair loss, discharge from nose or eyes and sneezing.
- Tail/Rear End – Licking, scratching tail head, butt scooting and excessive licking.
What’s The Cause Of My Dog’s Allergic Reaction?
In its simplest form, Allergic reactions in dogs are a horrible offshoot of an overactive immune system.
Symptoms, oh boy! All the doctors and vets love it, as using that, they will categorize and treat them with anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s, steroids etc) which basically calm down the immune response.
in short-term, This isn’t a bad idea as it gives your dog the much-needed relief, however, for Long-term, artificially closing the immune system (except for a transplant scenario) is not at all recommended.
You’re switching off immune response just like shutting off that smoke alarm not considering why it was turning on if you do not attend to what is antagonizing the immune system; the allergy will by no means go away and it will go even downhill.
The main reasons for allergic reactions in dogs :
Tick And Flea Allergy
Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) or hot spots is the most common dermatologic disease of domestic dogs. Signs and Symptoms of flea allergy are scratching, chewing, whining, licking, red or even raw skin from constant scratching and bumps on the skin.
The breeds with a high prevalence may vary from country to country, so you’ll find a different list of American dogs with atopy than of British dogs with atopy.
Atopy or Inhalant Allergy
Also referred to as atopic dermatitis, these are the second most common type of allergy in dogs.
It affects approximately 15 percent of dogs, which usually shows up between the ages of 1 to 3 years and symptoms often get worse with age.
They are caused by Environmental allergens which are either inhaled or come into direct contact with the skin.
Common allergens are pollen (trees, grass, weeds) dust mites, molds, mildew, fertilizers, feathers, chemicals found in plastic materials, household inhalants (cigarette smoke, cleaners, perfume etc.), cleaning or grooming products and fabrics.
All the skin, gut, ear and eye conditions can be a result of inflammation originating in their gut because dogs can be allergic to certain foods or maybe proteins in food.
Some nutritionists and vets believe food allergies may also be caused by feeding your dog the same food continuously.
It can be easier said than done to bring to light the exact cause of a dog’s allergy, but here are a few clues that might help. Usually, if your dog’s biting around her tail end on their back, check for fleas first.
If the digestive system is involved (diarrhea, upset stomach or gas), look at food sources first. The inhalant allergy sufferers have itchy “ears and rears” and gnaw on their feet more than other areas.
It could be a type of seasonal pollen if your dog only has symptoms during part of the year. For continual scratching and itching, it’s probably something inside the house, like dust or dust mites.
Your vet can help you find out the offending allergens through intradermal skin tests (The gold standard for testing) and other diagnostics.
Basic Things To Keep The Dog Allergies In Check
Control Fleas And Ticks
Fleas are a common allergen for dogs and even one single flea bite can initiate the whole itch cycle all over on an allergic dog. Check your dog often with a flea comb to ensure they’re flea and tick free.
Check for fleas all through your house as fleas don’t just stay on your dog. They can be found in areas where your dog spends a lot of her time such as dog’s bedding, feeding area and check her favorite locations for signs of black specks (flea dirt) or for the fleas themselves.
Do the full flea and tick eradication treatment in your house and treat any infestation in your dogs promptly.
Keep A Clean House
Make a cleaning schedule and Vacuum regularly with an allergy-type furnace filter or HEPA filter. These filters are designed to trap tiny particles of pollen, dander, dust and so forth.
If you’re considering installing hardwood floors or ripping up your dust-filled carpet, this is a great reason to make headway! Hey, if you’re a smoker, here’s a great reason to quit.
Run the air conditioner in the summer instead of opening windows on days when the pollen count is high.
Clean Your Dog’s Bedding
Vacuum your dog’s bedding, use a lint roller to pull out the hair and wash it in hot water with a non-bio laundry detergent once a week to control dust and to kill dust mites.
Try chlorine-free bleach if bleaching is necessary. Sprinkle some baking soda on your dog’s bed and after some time, you can simply use a vacuum cleaner or dust it off to clean all the dry powder.
Ditch those hard chemical cleaners for natural cleaners, like those containing white vinegar, apple cider or lemon-based products.
Wipe Down Your Dog
When the pollen count is high or if the lawn has been freshly mowed, it’s better to control the amount of time your dog spends outdoors.
Have a rubber mat and towel by the door so that you when your dog comes back inside, wipe down her coat and paws with the towel off excess moisture and mud in a warm dry location to remove any allergens and to stop them from being tracked around the house.
You can also Use commercial pet wipes to wipe off dirt and you could have your dog wear booties while outside.
Give Regular Grooming
The regular upkeep will help decrease the dirt and allergens on your dog’s fluff, which will keep them cleaner overall. Maintaining a regular grooming routine of your dog is very important.
Definitely, your dog’s is not going to like this one, but weekly, cool water baths with a dry shampoo or cornstarch can help ease itching and mend your fluffer’s skin.
Natural gels, hydrocortisone creams, and itch sprays can also be very beneficial in soothing skin issues. You may also spray and spot clean your dog with a mixture of water and vinegar, particularly if your dog is wet, as vinegar will help get rid of funky wet dog smell.
Try Epsom Salt Soaks
Epsom salt is great for spot treatments or soaking. Epsom salt bath soak or massaging your dog’s skin with Epsom salt could help in healing tender and sore skin as well as muscles.
Your dog will get the most benefit in a safe way if you soak your dog’s paws in Epsom salt dissolved in a bowl of water. Just be sure not to let her drink the water.
Toss The Plastic Bowls
Plastic has tiny scratches and nicks that can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Even if your dog doesn’t have issues such as rashes or facial hot spots, it’s better to ditch the plastic versions for only glass, metal food bowls, stainless steel or ceramic bowls.
Regardless of the type of bowls you use, make sure to wash them regularly.
Examine Your Dog’s Diet
If you think your dog may be allergic to food, establish a base diet for your dog and talk to your vet about starting an exclusion diet to try to find out the source of the allergy.
If you found out which food or protein causes allergy, next you need to know what to include in the hypoallergenic diet to both repair and nourish her in the future.
Also, many holistic nutritionists’ vets believe a diet made from fresh, human grade food or at least raw diet is the key to effectively treating allergies, so it’s worth considering that option as well.
Use An Antihistamine
The first way to get relief from allergies for your pet is antihistamines! Antihistamine has 30 percent potential to make your dogs less itchy.
Your dogs may get relief from an antihistamine like Benadryl, Zyrtec, Clariton or a natural antihistamine-like supplement (Quercetin).
While they may work for you at first, antihistamines often lose efficiency in the long run but you could carry that out as long as it lasts. Consult with your vet for a recommendation and the correct dosage.
Supplement With Supplements
Talk to your vet about adding natural anti-inflammatories in the food and adding supplements such as cod liver oil tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids, biotin or probiotics to your dog’s diet to help boost her immune system.