Allergies in Dogs
Do you observe your pet scratching or constantly licking itself? Could allergies be the reason? Like in humans, allergy reactions are a misguided reaction to foreign substances by the body’s immune system. There are three types of allergies: skin allergies, environmental allergies and food allergies.
Skin allergies are the most common type of allergic reactions. One cause may be due to fleabites as some dogs are allergic to flea saliva. Signs are extreme itchiness, especially at the base of the tail and the skin may become red, inflamed and scabbed. You may notice signs of fleas, such as flea dirt or even see the fleas themselves. As your dog scratches, bites and licks at his skin, he risks opening up his skin to yeast and bacterial infections that may require treatment.
Environmental allergens such as dust, pollen and mold can cause an atopic allergic reaction or atopic dermatitis. In most cases, these allergies are seasonal so you may only notice your dog itching during certain times of the year. The most commonly affected areas are the paws and ears but also include the wrists, ankles, muzzle, groin, around the eyes and between the toes. In some cases, additional symptoms of runny eyes, runny nose and sneezing may be present.
True food allergies are not as common as you may think. True food allergies result in an immune response which can range in symptoms from skin conditions (hives, facial swelling, itchiness,) gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhea,) or a combination of both. What most people mean when they say that their dog has a food allergy is that their dog has a food sensitivity or intolerance. Food sensitivities do not involve an immune response and are instead a gradual reaction to an offending ingredient in your dog’s food, for example, beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy or milk. The most common places dogs itch are their ears and paws. The best way to diagnose and treat a food allergy is to work with your vet to discover the ingredient’s identity and manage the reaction.
To discover the cause of the allergic symptoms, your vet will first want to rule out any other condition that could explain the symptoms. Allergy testing may be suggested to try to determine the allergen but it may not be always possible to determine the cause of the allergy.
To treat an allergy, the solution depends on the cause. Flea allergies can be treated with the proper flea management products. Food allergies or intolerances are resolved with a diet change. An allergy relief medication may be prescribed by your vet.
Source: American Kennel Club