The chances are you’ll know someone who’s lactose or gluten intolerant. You might even have a food allergy yourself. Dogs are no different. Food allergies can happen at any point during a dog’s life. They commonly begin when dogs are less than a year old.
Skin allergies are also not uncommon in dogs. They’re often due to an oversensitivity to pollen, grass, fleas, or house dust mites as well as to certain foods.
Read on for the lowdown about common allergies in dogs and how you can help treat them.
The Symptoms of Food and Skin Allergies in Dogs
Skin and stomach problems are common symptoms in dogs that have a food allergy. Specific problems include:
- Itchy skin, rashes, or sore skin typically on feet, ears, face, stomach, or groin
- Saliva staining that leaves pink or brown blotches on the coat
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Excessive wind
When dogs have a skin allergy they might experience some of the same symptoms along with these issues:
- Hair loss
- Dark or thickened skin
- Weeping eyes and/or ear infections
- Acute moist dermatitis
Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
As with humans, trying to figure out why a dog has an allergy can be tricky. This is particularly because there could be more than one cause. If you suspect your dog has an allergy you should talk to your vet.
Dogs are prone to be allergic to the proteins found in meat or dairy products. Some dogs can also develop an allergy to other ingredients, such as wheat. Your vet may recommend a food trial. Here are some of the key factors:
- Feeding your dog a diet with special ingredients that they won’t react to
- These trials typically last 8-12 weeks
- Your vet will be able to give tips about treats that wouldn’t affect the trial
Once your dog settles into the special diet without symptoms, your vet may recommend adding certain ingredients back into their food. This is to try and find out what they might have an allergy to.
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Food trials and exclusion diets take a substantial amount of time to complete. An alternative would be to carry on feeding your dog a special veterinary diet for the rest of their life.
Other Common Causes of Allergies in Dogs
If foods do not appear to be the cause of the allergy, your vet will want to check for and rule out parasites like fleas and dust mites. It is possible to check for some other allergies using blood and skin tests, but often these are not 100 percent reliable.
Your vet may want to talk to you about where you walk your dog. Long grass or times of the year when there is a high pollen count could be contributing factors to a skin allergy. In some cases, your vet might recommend you take your dog to a skin specialist.
The good news is that it’s not always necessary to know the exact triggers. This is because the treatment for most skin allergies is similar. Most dogs with allergies will lead a normal life provided they steer clear of certain food or environments.
Preventing the Symptoms of Allergies
If your dog has a food allergy you must ensure they only eat food with safe ingredients. In extreme cases, you may need to muzzle your dog when they’re on walks. This is to prevent them from accidentally eating something that doesn’t agree with them.
If the allergy has an environmental cause, you may need to do the following:
- Regularly de-flea your dog along with other pets in your home
- Avoid taking your dog for walks when the pollen count is high
- Keep your dog away from long grass
- Rinse off paws and sensitive areas after walks
- Avoid household sprays, aerosols, and air fresheners
- Vacuum and dust the home regularly to prevent mites
Allergy Treatments for Dogs
There are plenty of anti-itch medications available for dogs with skin allergies. These include:
- Steroid tablets and/or steroid sprays
- Injections and/or pills developed to treat skin problems
- Specialist shampoos, supplements, and antihistamines
- Antibiotics for ear infections along with ear cleaning
If your dog has undergone testing, it may be possible to desensitize them to the triggers of their allergy. This happens through immunotherapy. This involves injecting your dog with a small amount of what they are allergic to, to get their body used to it.
These injections work slowly over time, and typically have to continue for a few years. This kind of therapy does not work for every dog. In many cases, your dog will still need medication as well to reduce any symptoms.
The Future’s Bright for Dogs With Allergies
With the correct allergy treatment, it’s likely that your dog will live a long, happy life.
Do you still have any questions about dog allergies? Then schedule a video consultation with one of our qualified vets!
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