Complete Guide To Helping Dogs With Allergies
A lot of humans suffer badly from allergies and have to be very careful about what they eat and the products they use. Believe it or not, dogs can get allergies too. Just like us, they can be sensitive to a whole variety of different things.
Some breeds of dog are more prone to allergies, but all dogs can suffer from them. Allergies can develop at any stage of a dog’s life. There are many things that can cause allergies in dogs, from flea allergies to food allergies and even seasonal allergies.
Allergies can be quite mild or very severe and can cause some dogs absolute misery. If you suspect your dog has an allergy take them to the vet straight away to see what sort of treatment is available. For some allergies, you simply have to keep your dog away from the cause of the allergy. Here is a helpful guide to helping dogs with allergies.
Signs your dog has an allergy
Dogs who have an allergy can display all sorts of different symptoms, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine what's causing the problem. Your dog can pick up an allergy by ingesting something, inhaling allergens or by something coming into contact with their skin. Some common symptoms of an allergy include:
- Ear infections
- Chewing feet or body
- Rubbing face or eyes with paws
- Excessive Licking
- Sore skins, rashes, sores, and skin irritations
- Reddish discoloration to the skin
- Upset tummy
The problem is, most of these symptoms can be caused by other health complications. So if your dog has one or some of these symptoms that does not mean they definitely have an allergy, your vet will need to determine the cause of their symptoms.
Types of allergy
If your dog suddenly starts scratching a lot then they could potentially have a skin allergy. Although dogs can scratch for other reasons, such as stress or anxiety. Many dog owners end up taking their dog to the very due to scratching, it is a very common veterinary complaint.
Keep an eye on your dog’s skin and look out for rashes, sores and irritated skin. Some dogs can scratch a lot simply because they have dry skin. Itchy skin can also be caused by a flea allergy, which a lot of dogs can suffer from. Dogs that have flea allergies became allergic to the saliva of fleas, rather than their bite. The saliva irritates their skin, and it only takes one or two fleas to set off a bad allergic reaction. If your dog has a flea allergy make sure you treat them against fleas regularly to prevent them from getting fleas in the first place. Dogs can also develop food allergies. It can be particularly difficult to determine the cause of food allergies.
You have to monitor what your dog is eating the ingredients in the food to try and figure out what type of foods they aren’t able to tolerate. Symptoms of dogs with food allergies include stomach and digestion problems (vomiting and diarrhea), breathing problems and even irritated skin. Your dog might not have been an allergy to a certain type of food when they were younger, and they can suddenly develop an allergy as they get older. Dog food allergies can strike at any age. Speak to your vet about alternative diets and how to identify food allergies if you think your dog is allergic to certain types of food.
Seasonal allergies such as hayfever and allergic reactions to environmental factors can also occur in dogs. Dogs can be allergic to certain plants, pollen, fabrics, and chemicals used around the home. They might suddenly develop problems at certain times of the year, for example, if they suffer from hayfever their allergies will be worst in the spring and summer. Generally, these types of allergies cause itching and skin irritation. You may notice your dog scratching and chewing at their skin in certain areas, or all over their body. They can also experience respiratory problems, causing them to sneeze, cough and have a runny nose and eyes.
Reasons Dogs Develop Skin Allergies
It may come as a surprise to some that dogs can have allergic reactions to many different things, just like humans. Allergic reactions cause dermatitis, which is red, swollen and sensitive skin caused by excessive scratching. Pinpointing the source of the allergic reaction can be tricky. There are three main types of dermatitis in dogs, namely: atopic dermatitis, flea allergy dermatitis, and food allergy dermatitis.
Atopic dermatitis is an adverse reaction to environmental allergens. Seasonal allergies are usually caused by airborne pollens, while house mites and mould spores cause year-round allergies. Retrievers, Beagles, Boxers, Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Shar-Peis and Irish Setters are all more susceptible due to the hereditary nature of allergies. However, any breed of dog can develop it.
Atopic Dermatitis is commonly seen in young pups less than three years of age and can worsen if not treated quickly. Hair loss, rubbing on the carpet, excessive scratching, and chewing of the paws, groin and armpits are all common symptoms. It is recommended to get an intradermal skin test done by your vet to determine the allergen/s. Then, it’s as simple as removing the allergen from the dog’s environment and taking other easy actions to minimise contact with the allergen.
Dogs and hay fever
Dogs can get hay fever, just like humans! The condition usually manifests itself before a dog is three years old but can appear at any age. As many as 10% of all dogs in the UK are thought to suffer from the condition to at least some degree and their owners may not have noticed. Canine hay fever is not restricted to dogs which live in the countryside. It can also afflict urban pooches who live in areas where there a few open spaces. The allergens which cause the symptoms vary but pollen is the main offender. Dogs may also react badly to dander, dust, grass and other plant matter. Whilst symptoms usually appear in spring and summer, dogs can also suffer from hay fever in early autumn. So, what symptoms should you look out for if you suspect your dog may have hay fever?
Does your dog have hay fever?
The symptoms of the condition are as follows:
- Sneezing, often repeatedly
- A runny nose
- Red, runny and itchy eye
- Itching all over the body
- A rash on the face and/or paws
- Excessive scratching of the skin
- Hair loss or sores caused by scratching
In dogs, hay fever could manifest itself as a skin condition only and so the absence of sneezing and the other symptoms we would normally associate with the condition does mean that you can rule it out as an issue for your pooch. If you are in any doubt, consult your vet for a diagnosis.
Treating canine hay fever with antihistamines for dogs
Your vet may be able to prescribe antihistamines to alleviate the symptoms, but there are also a few things you can do to make your pet’s life more comfortable. Brush down their coat after a walk to minimise the amount of pollen they bring into the house. If they have long fur, trim it back to reduce the number of allergens that could get caught up in it. Keep the house dusted and windows closed when there is a high pollen count. Bathe your pooch regularly and ensure that their bedding is always clean.
Which dogs can get hay fever?
Any breed of dog can suffer from hay fever, but some breeds are more prone to the condition than others. The following breeds are the most likely to suffer from hay fever:
- The Cairn terrier
- The Boston terrier
- The Irish setter
- The Dalmatian
- Poodles of all sizes
- Schnauzers of all sizes
- The wire-haired terrier
- The West Highland terrier
If your dog is sneezing, has a runny nose or appears to be itching, they just might have hay fever. See your vet as soon as possible and follow their advice.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea Allergy Dermatitis is a reaction to the flea’s saliva and can be quite severe if not treated properly. Dogs tend to excessively scratch anywhere they have been bitten, which leads to hair loss and infected wounds. Getting rid of fleas is somewhat easier than treating other types of allergies, because once the fleas are removed from the environment, the reaction subsides. This can be done by using flea prevention products, and thoroughly cleaning places where your dog spends a lot of time.
Food Allergy Dermatitis
Like humans, canine allergies usually start at a young age. But, they can develop later in life as well. Dogs are typically allergic to proteins such as beef, dairy, chicken and eggs. However, allergies can develop to these foods even if they’ve been eating it for years. Common symptoms include: excessive scratching of the ears, feet, face and around the anus, as well as vomiting and increased bowel movements. It requires 8-12 weeks on a food elimination diet from your vet to determine the allergen.
If you think your dog has a skin allergy, it’s always best to see your local vet to get a professional opinion. They can recommend the best course of action based on your situation.
Helpful products for dogs with allergies
Here are some products you might find useful if your dog suffers from allergies:
- Yumega Plus - designed for itchy dogs, reduces itching and scratching, supports sensitive skin.
- Ear drops - kills ear mites, soothes irritation, softens earwax and assists healing.
- Aloe Vera Gel - great for dogs with irritated, sensitive skin. Calms and soothes irritated skin.
- Tea Tree Skin Calm - like Aloe Vera, Tea Tree oil is very good for the skin. This solution also contains Aloe Vera and it soothes and calms the skin as well as acting as an antiseptic.
- Antibacterial Powder - aids healing, dry dressing for abrasions and minor wounds.
- Dorwest Veterinary Organic Valerian - instantly helps your dog to calm down and relax, can be useful if allergies are stressing them out.
- Comfy Cone Collar - great for preventing your dog from reaching and irritating wounds and skin problems.
- Dorwest Veterinary Digestive Supplement - aids digestion and settles windy stomachs.
- Dorwest Veterinary Garlic Tablets - Helps with bronchial conditions and coughs as well as maintaining general health.
- Sore Paws Aloe Vera Gel - soothes and softens sore and cracked paws.
You might find some of the above products helpful if your dog has allergies but check with your vet before using them.
Treatment for dog allergies
Your vet will be able to discuss options for treating your dog’s allergies. They might discuss with you some things you can do to try and reduce the severity of your dog’s allergies. Some allergies are easily cleared up with medical treatment, with other allergies you have to take more of a preventative approach. They key is identifying exactly what is causing the allergy so that you can formulate a treatment plan.
Dog Allergies: What To Do?
It’s not just humans that are affected by allergies, be it hay fever or something within our own homes, our precious fur angels can be left feeling worse for wear when their allergies flare.
But don’t worry, we can protect our beloved; before you know it you and Fido will be frolicking in meadows under the summer sun.
Know the symptoms
Allergies can present in many ways, depending on the cause and like many illnesses, symptoms are incredibly personal to each and every one of us – including our animal companions.
The common symptom is itching, is Fido chewing on his nails or skin? Is he doing that cute bum scoot across your clean floors? Is he turning his tiny paw into a turbocharged scratcher? Get it checked!
Other symptoms can present as sore areas (known as hot spots), change in bowel movements, vomiting, change in behavior and much more. Serious complications can cause seizures and failure of the organs – so don’t let it fester.
Don’t put off a trip to the vets
It can be very easy to just wait and see if little Fido’s symptoms will ease on their own; it is human nature to carry on. But remember that little Fido can’t tell you how much pain he is in or where it hurts – talk to a vet before treating your darling pup at home.
Find the cause of the allergy
Little Fido may be jumping for joy when you say that magic word, but he’s not immune to the elements such as grass, weeds wood, pollen and even things inside your home like dust, mold or the cleaning tools you use!
Other causes can be things such as the food Fido is eating or that monthly de-flea that he goes extra lengths to avoid.
Find the right treatment
A vet may prescribe a steroid, vaccine, antihistamine or even special bath wash to help sooth that intolerable itch, these usually work incredibly fast and you’ll see Fido back to his usual mischievous self in no time – but if not, go back to the vet as there are always more options and their only goal is to help your fur baby be happy.
There are plenty of items that you can have around in your home to benefit little Fido and prevent a future allergic reaction or sooth the current.
Environmental treatments are as simple as maintaining your home, invest in a dehumidifier for damp and leave windows open for at least 10 minutes a day. Make sure to remove mold the correct way and be very wary of the cleaning chemicals that you use around the home.
For the outdoor elements, speak to a vet about medication and don’t forget to keep on top of Fido’s!
Food treatments will usually mean a change in the diet and learning the cause, to refine this you may need to speak to a vet. You can find special food for dogs with more sensitive stomachs, provides a range for all Fido’s needs.
To sooth Fido’s skin and keep him feeling like the good dog he is, there are a range of treatments available. From , to and , Fido can be assured that pain is a thing of the past and you can finally catch up on that missed sleep.