Allergies in Dogs and Treatment
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies that can be triggered by a number of things with varying degrees of reaction. Allergic reaction in dog’s spells trouble and come in the form of itchy skin, causing excessive scratching all over the body. Allergies in dogs are a major issue and need to be managed, if your dog is seen scratching constantly every day, it’s time to pay your vet a visit.
The Allergy Problem
Allergic reactions can be induced from the environment or a dog’s diet. With multiple possible causes, diagnosis can be challenging as symptoms are usually similar without distinction towards the root cause. Dogs are naturally carnivorous and their digestive systems are designed for optimum protein and fat content. Their bodies do not take kindly to foods filled with carbohydrates and this could lead to a potential allergic reaction.
Allergies are commonly linked to nutrition but there is another source of allergen triggers that are based on exposure in the living environment. Your dog’s living environment will need to be inspected for possible triggers. While diet related allergies are relatively easy to solve once identified, problems in the home environment are harder to discern and solve. Nonetheless, we must continue in pursuit of identifying culprit allergens and where they reside. Possible sources of environmental based allergens could come from exposure to dust, pollen, perfumes and more.
We love to feed our dogs tasty treats, homemade dog food and staple foods from manufacturers. There are benefits to each solution but it’s important to know what is in your dog’s food. Food based allergies will often be related to intake of both proteins and carbohydrates. Check with your vet to see if your dog may be allergic to specific protein sources such as beef, chicken, eggs and lamb. Carbohydrate sources will also need to be tested.
Symptoms of Allergic Reactions
Dogs with food allergies may experience the following symptoms (a combination of symptoms are possible):
- Visible skin issues that cause itchiness and scratching. Look out for rashes and tender areas due to over self-grooming.
- Fur coat quality degradation, including excessive shedding.
- Digestive issues including inconsistent stools, diarrhea and other related problems.
Your dog may suffer from seasonal environmental allergens. You may be able to link certain symptoms to specific times of the year. For instance, we link pollen allergies due to elevated levels in spring. Your dog may start to show visible forms of allergic reactions as they mature after a year of growth.
Treating and Managing Allergies in Your Dog
If your dog has a sudden allergic reaction, immediate action is required. Contact your local vet for advice and emergency consultation. Providing information is key and your vet may refer your dog for allergen testing which involves a small amount of blood being sent to a laboratory. Pharmaceutical management will often be prescribed, in some cases a lifestyle change will be prescribed.
Diet changes can help all round, as mentioned above, it’s important to know what’s in your dog’s diet. Analyzing the ingredients of manufactured foods may reveal a huge pool of chemicals that may contribute to allergic reactions. Homemade dog foods are fresh and most importantly, allow owners to control what is being fed to their pup. Fresh foods at home greatly reduce the presence of additives and complex carbohydrates. A balanced diet is always best, raw diets are a great choice but may not always ensure complete solution to an allergy problem.
Figuring out environmental allergen sources is a little tricky, isolation and investigation is crucial. We like to divide our time indoors and outdoors with our dogs and observation indoors to see if a dog still suffers from allergies at home is the first clue to finding the allergy triggering component. Outdoor allergens are usually related to seasonal changes, work with your vet to figure out a triggering source and a management plan.
Elimination of environmental allergens is no easy task but it can be done. Routine house cleaning is important to remove dust and dander from the household. Pay attention to zones that accumulate dust and dirt, upholstery, carpets and similar surfaces. Grooming your dog and giving regular showers will help to keep allergen levels at bay, a similar approach should be taken after going outdoors with your dog.
Aside from cleaning and diet changes, we can make lifestyle changes to help reduce and prevent allergen introduction in the household. Smoking indoors should be avoided and use of pet safe cleaning products are important. We like to use a HEPA filtered air purifier for our own allergies and this also helps your dog. While environmental allergens can’t entirely be removed, we can at least take measures to reduce them significantly. With enough effort and understanding, allergies can be managed to an acceptable level. Woof!