Allergies & Your DogA dog can develop allergies at any time during his life. Just like humans, dogs have immune systems that recognise certain allergens as harmful.

Allergens become problematic when they make contact with a dog’s skin, are ingested or inhaled. As the body tries to rid itself of the allergens a range of digestive, skin and respiratory symptoms start to appear.

Treatment can be as simple as removing the offending allergens from the immediate environment of your pet.  The challenge is working out which trigger to eliminate.  Sometimes you need to embark on a journey with your dog and eliminate things that may have been the trigger so you can identify the cause.

Common allergens that affect dogs are:   Allergy symptoms your dog may show:
  • Tree, grass and weedpollens
  • Dander
  • Fleas
  • Feathers
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Prescription drugs
  • Foods (chicken, dairy)
  • Perfumes, shampoos, cleaning products
  • Rubber and plastics
  • Sneezing
  • Snoring
  • Hot spots
  • Itchy, red, moist, scabby skin
  • Constant licking
  • Itchy and runny eyes
  • Itchy tail
  • Paw chewing
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Flea Allergies - are quite common and a single flea bite for some dogs can cause a lot of discomfort.  Prevention is the most effective treatment for flea allergy. Start your dog and any other pets in the house on a flea treatment before the season starts. Some 'spot on' treatments, such as Frontline Plus will also treat and control Flea Allergy Dermatitis.
  • Food Allergies - In the case of a food allergy it can take some time on an elimination diet to pin point the cause. Dogs will typically present with itchy/inflamed skin, chewing of paws, hot spots and in extreme cases, breathing and difficulty and gastrointestinal issues. In a true case of a food allergy you may find your dog will respond to a change of food, or moving to a sensitive formula (such as Hills Sensitive Skin or Canidae Grain Free). Look for a protein source such as lamb, duck, salmon or fish. These protein sources are not as common as others so the the likelihood of your dog being allergic to these proteins is reduced.
  • Shampoo's & Bathing - Bathing with a vet recommended prescription shampoo to treat existing skin conditions, or in the case of a manageable skin reaction, using a gentle, soap-free shampoo (like an oatmeal based one)will help those who are in need of relief from itching, and will help to remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog's skin and coat. Do not use a regular shampoo as this can dry your dog's skin out.
  • Dust and Dust Mites - If dust is the culprit, be sure to wash your pets bedding once a week and vacuum twice a week, and try to keep house dust to a minimum, by getting rid of dust that collects on rugs, curtains etc.
  • Cigarette Smoke - for reactions to cigarette smoke, please remember dogs should not be exposed to it. It can be a cause of bronchitis and is characterized by a persistent cough brought on by excessive mucus production and inflammation of the airway.

If the allergy remains unresolved,you should make a trip to your vet for a complete history and physical examination. Your vet should be able to determine the reason for your dogs symptoms on examination, if not they may need to run a blood test or perform an intradermal diagnostic test to help determine the cause and possibly prescribe a medication.

* Article sourced with permission of Just For Pets.