Dog Skin Allergies- How to Spot Them
Dog ownership is a wonderful thing. Dogs provide meaningful companionship, and purpose and can be an excellent addition to a family or household. But they are more than a member of the family; they are also a dependent, with the responsibility falling to you to ensure they are cared for correctly. While vet visits and occasional illnesses are par for the course in dog ownership, there is a side to your dog’s health that you may not be familiar with: dog skin allergies. How can allergies present in dogs, and what can you do to ensure your dog is looked after?
Types of Allergies in Dogs
Dogs can suffer a wide variety of allergies, just as humans do. While allergies can form in response to practically anything, certain allergies appear much more commonly than others in dogs. There are three main types of allergies in dogs, each with its own triggers:
- Food allergies are one such type, describing the adverse reaction to substances ingested by dogs. These typically manifest in the form of allergies to specific proteins, but can also form in relation to forms of fibre.
- Skin or environmental allergies relate to materials your dog might encounter in everyday life, via touch or inhalation. The analogue in humans is hay fever or an allergy to pollen – which dogs can also experience. Dogs might also develop an allergy to mould or dust.
- Lastly, flea allergies are particularly common amongst animal breeds of almost every stripe. The saliva that fleas secrete can have an inflammatory effect when a flea bites an animal, causing a strong reaction.
Spotting an Allergic Reaction in Your Dog
There are various symptoms associated with allergic reactions in animals, many of which are recognisable by virtue of their similarity to human allergic reactions. One key symptom, especially of flea or plant fibre allergies, is irritated skin and scratching; if your dog is impulsively scratching themselves to the point of potential harm, they may be having a reaction. Your dog may also suffer hair loss or weepy eyes.
For food allergies, there are various gastrointestinal symptoms dog owners should look out for. Your dog may be sluggish and slow to react, or seemingly in discomfort. They may be experiencing diarrhoea, and may also exhibit red skin and itchy ears.
Treatment for Your Dog’s Allergies
Allergies are lifelong conditions, and impossible to cure. However, their symptoms can be avoided with careful approaches to exposure and diet, and mitigated in certain cases with treatments and medicines. Exact treatments will differ from allergy to allergy and from dog to dog, but a conversation with your vet can help you determine the best course of action. Your vet can work with you to try and discover what is causing your dogs skin allergy.
Arguably the best approach to managing your dog’s allergy is a preventive one. Limiting your dog’s exposure to harmful allergens will limit the likelihood of them experiencing symptoms. In terms of food allergies, a hypoallergenic diet consisting of sensitive dog food and allergen-safe treats is a must. For contact allergies, wet wipes can be used to remove contaminants from your dog’s paws.
In humans, antihistamines are a common intervention to reduce the symptoms of hay fever and allergies to fur or dander. Dogs can also take specifically formulated, animal-safe antihistamines, but there are risks inherent to medication routes. Some dogs may not respond well to the active ingredients in certain antihistamines; pregnant and chronically ill dogs may struggle, and other dogs may experience side effects such as drowsiness. Consult your vet and discuss possible medications that may help.
We hope that this is useful information for how to spot and help your dog manage an allergy, to make sure that they are happy and healthy. Let us know how you have managed allergies in dogs in the comments below.