Allergies can be a “pain in the neck!” Itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion, and runny noses, can all make a perfectly good day go sour. Luckily, as humans we know when to grab a bottle of Benadryl, wear a pollen mask, or sunglasses, to combat allergy symptoms – dogs aren’t so lucky. Just like you, your canine companion can develop allergy symptoms.
The immune system is tasked with defending the body but it often mistakes allergens to be harmful. Through out their daily activities dogs can easily come into contact with pollen’s, mold, dust, and other allergens. If ingested or inhaled these are often flagged by their immune system as dangerous and can cause severe reactions. When this happens it’s up to you to help your pet.
First you need to be able to spot an allergic reaction in your dog… it is not always obvious and your dog will try and hide the pain from you.
Once exposed to a harmful substance or allergens your dog will begin to show a variety of allergy symptoms – from digestive to respiratory. The sneezing, itching, scratching, and rubbing of the face will be enough to keep you up at nights. Most common symptoms that are easy to spot include:
- Continuous licking of the legs and other body parts
- Itching of the ears, tail, back etc.
- Snoring while sleeping
- Shortness in breath, coughing
- Runny eyes and nose
- Red, moist itchy lesions
Nonetheless, if your dog is more resilient then it’s possible that you may not notice any behavioral allergy symptoms. Though most of the times allergies are often accompanied by one of the symptoms listed above, some symptoms are harder to detect. For instance, ear infections and swollen paws are common allergy symptoms that are harder to detect.
Your best bet is to observe your pet carefully. They may experience swollen paws that make it troublesome walking. Ear infections are generally accompanied by unpleasant odors, swelling around the ear, and yellow discharge from the ear.
11 Common Substances That Cause An Allergic Reaction In Your Pet
Allergic reactions in dogs are similar to allergic reactions in humans. From their diets to common elements in their surrounding, like humans there are a number of things that dogs can react poorly to. Some common allergens are:
- Food items like fish, beef, dairy products, eggs, corn and soy
- Insecticidal shampoos used for repelling fleas and mite
- Rubber or plastic items
- Household cleaning products
- Mold spores
- Prescription medication
- Cigarette smoke
- Weed pollen and grass
Now that we know how to spot some of the allergen culprits, there are some specific solutions that we can implement to help ease the allergic distress.
1. Keep Your Home Free of Allergens
It’s easy to get caught up outdoor during spring with your canine companion. The cherry blossoms and moderate temperature are enough to get you and your pup excited. The downside is that during this time it’s easy for you and your pet to transfer environmental allergens to your home.
Also, let’s not forget insects. Fleas and ticks can easily hitch a ride in your dog’s fur or paws and end up inside your home. Below are a few tips that you should keep in mind to limit the presence of insects and allergens in your home.
- Clean your pet paws thoroughly with a wash cloth before allowing them to enter the house. Also, be sure to remove your shoes and/or jacket before going inside the house.
- Bathe your dog weekly and groom them to get rid of any allergens hanging on.
- Dust and vacuum your home at least twice a week to pick up any stragglers laying around.
- Wash your dog’s bedding regularly using hypoallergenic detergent and allow it to dry in the dryer.
2. Know What Type Of Allergy Your Dog Has
If you have reason to believe your dog has an allergy then you should visit an allergist for a proper diagnosis. In most cases a skin test will be administered to determine if the dog has allergy.
During the test a small amount of hair is shaved off from an area on the dog’s skin and then allergens are injected under the skin. The skin is then monitored for any redness and swelling over a 15 to 20 minute period. Your dog will experience some amount of swelling, itching, and redness if they are allergic to the substance injected under the skin.
While it’s one of the most effective means of determining if your dog has allergies, the skin test can be expensive. At most veterinarians the test alone will cost you an average of $200. If the skin test is too pricey for you then there are a few things that you can do at home to find out if your dog has allergies.
As mentioned earlier, learn what allergy symptoms to look for and monitor your pup while they are inside and outside the house. If the dog shows more symptoms while in your home then chances are that they might be allergic to mold, fleas, or dust mites.
In addition to this, monitor what you feed your dog closely. Dairy products, fish, corn, pork, and chicken, are common ingredients used in dog food that can cause an allergic reaction. If you notice that your dog is itching, vomiting or visiting the bathroom one too many times after having a meal then chances are that they’re allergic to one of the ingredients.
Food allergies can be more harmful to your dog. Therefore, it’s important that you speak to your vet about conducting food experiments prior to doing so.
3. Repel Fleas
Fleas don’t have to always work in groups. One is enough to make your dog start itching like crazy and if they are allergic then you’re in for a nightmare. While flea allergies are common among younger dogs they can develop at any age.
It is the saliva from the flea that causes an allergic reaction in some dogs. In fact, research has shown that there are over 15 antigens in the saliva of fleas, each of which can affect your dog in some way.
Hair loss from around the tail and back are common signs of flea allergies. If you believe that your dog is allergic to fleas then contact your vet. Your vet will use a combination of intradermal skin testing and visual observation for fleas to determine if your dog is allergic.
Allergies can ruin your day and the same goes for dogs. The difference is that your dog is unable to seek proper treatment for themselves. Therefore, as a dog owner, it is your duty to help your dog overcome any allergies that he/she may have. While it is impossible to cure allergies there is a lot that you can do for your dogs to make them happy. Simple things such as interacting with your dog more and not skipping veterinarian appointments can ensure that they get what they need.
Sources: PETMD, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, CNN