Itching, constant scratching, runny nose, red eyes, wheezing, sneezing, chewing or biting of paws, licking, skin reactions, etc., are some of the common symptoms of allergies in canines. This write-up provides information on the contributing factors and treatment options for allergic reactions in dogs.
An allergen is an antigen that produces an abnormal immune response, wherein the immune system of the body recognizes the substance that is otherwise harmless as a threat. Allergies can affect both humans and animals. Coughing, sneezing, wheezing, itching, or scratching are some of the common symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs. The reaction occurs when the allergen comes in contact with the animal’s skin, or is inhaled or ingested. Dog owners need to be aware of the symptoms and effective treatment options for allergies in dogs.
Allergic reactions are mainly attributed to an immune response. When the immune system detects the presence of an allergen, the immune cells within the skin and tissues release histamines, which in turn gives rise to the symptoms. Inhalant allergies are often caused due to exposure to allergens such as tree pollens (ash, cedar, oak, etc.), grass pollens, weed pollens (goldenrod, ragweed, etc.), mold, mildew, or dust mites. Itching is the characteristic symptom of an inhalant allergy in canines. A contact allergy could be caused due to fabrics such as wool. Some dogs might be allergic to flea collars.
Allergic reaction in some dogs could also be attributed to fleas. In case of some dogs, flea bites could cause severe skin allergies, especially on the hind legs and tail. They might start chewing on their paws and scratch constantly. Persistent scratching can cause sores on your dog’s skin, and even lead to hair loss. Self-inflicted skin trauma could also put your dog at an increased risk of developing secondary bacterial infections.
Allergies could also be caused due to certain bacteria. Allergic reactions can also be caused due to certain ingredients in dog food. A dog affected by a food allergy is likely to experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, itching, face rubbing, sneezing, etc. Consult a veterinarian, if you notice the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Red eyes
- discharge in the eyes
- Paw chewing
- Constant itching
- Recurrent ear infections
The avoidance of the allergen is the best way to prevent this condition. However, if a dog has had an allergic reaction, the veterinarian might run tests on skin scrapings to determine the underlying cause. Skin culture and blood testing can help in determining the suitable treatment options. Since allergic reactions are caused due to the release of histamines, the treatment generally involves the use of antihistamines. If the symptoms are severe, the vet might recommend the use of steroids. The prolonged use of steroids could cause certain side effects, which is why these must be used sparingly. The administration of allergy shots is another treatment option.
As far as the treatment of skin allergies is concerned, the topical application of hydrocortisone creams might help in relieving itching in dogs. Bathing your dog in hypoallergenic shampoo would also help.
If your dog has had a reaction after consuming a food item, be very careful while selecting dog food. Since omega-3 essential fatty acids can help in preventing allergic reactions, these can be given in the form of supplements.
Common food allergies are caused due to dairy products, chicken, wheat, soy, whey, beef, and corn. The use of preservatives and colors could also be a contributing factor. If you are not sure about the food ingredients that your dog might be allergic to, you could get an allergy test conducted. You can also put your dog on an elimination diet to find out about the source of allergy. Make sure that you don’t give your dog table scraps during the testing period. Eliminating such foods is the most important aspect of treatment. Look for brands that offer organic and natural dog foods. Pay attention to your dog’s health and minimize the chances of allergic reactions by taking precautionary measures.
On a concluding note, dog owners must take preventive measures and keep your surroundings free from allergens. If you suspect that your pet had an allergic reaction, consult a veterinarian.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.