After a long winter, your pet may enjoy spring as much as you do – and be just as allergic to what he uncovers on those long spring walks. While most people are aware that people can be allergic to dander, pets are subject to a host of allergic reactions as well. Some allergic reactions come from exposure to pollen, but your pet can also be allergic to foods and items commonly found in your house.
Symptoms Of Allergy Prone Dogs
Dogs with allergies exhibit some of the same respiratory symptoms that humans do: sneezing, runny eyes, sore throat, and itching in different parts of the body. The symptoms are often accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, increased scratching, paw chewing/ swollen paws, and constant licking. In addition, you may notice skin that is moist, red, or scabbed. Your dog may snore as a result, or develop a secondary bacterial or yeast skin infection that leads to hair loss, and scabby, crusty skin.
The sources of dog allergies are diverse:
- Common outdoor allergens: Pollen from trees, grass, weeds, mold, fleas, and other pets.
- Common food allergies: Chicken, beef, pork, corn, wheat, or soy.
- Common indoor allergens: Dust, dust mites, mold spores, dander, and cigarette smoke.
- Common chemical allergies: Cleaning products, insecticidal shampoo, or perfumes.
- Other common allergies: Rubber, plastic, fabrics, and feathers.
Diagnosing And Treating Dog Allergies
While you need a trip to the vet to diagnose and treat the problem, you might be able to determine the most likely cause.
- Atopy is a seasonal allergy that shows up in April or May for spring tree pollen, in the fall for ragweed, or in the winter for dust mites. Your vet may treat this condition with allergy injections. Antihistamines might help some dogs, but make sure to ask your vet for advice. Since dogs with atopy often have skin infections, fatty acid supplements, special shampoos, and sprays containing aloe, oatmeal, and other natural ingredients may relieve the symptoms.
- Contact dermatitis is an allergy to carpets, cleaners, rubber, plastic, or other products. You should keep your pet away from chemicals, but if symptoms persist, your vet may suggest eliminating certain items that your pet comes in contact with, such as tennis balls, rubber or plastic toys, and plastic dishes to see if the allergy clears up.
- Food allergies, responsible for 10 to 15% of allergies in dogs and cats, can show up and exhibit the same symptoms as allergies to dust or pollen. Your pet may be allergic to fillers, dyes, and processed meats, grains, and proteins in certain foods. Try changing him to a different brand, even an organic food, or one without fillers. If your informal testing does not reduce symptoms, your vet may put the pet on an elimination diet to determine the cause of the food allergy.
Allergies can be serious in dogs, and even result in hives, facial swelling, or anaphylaxis within 20 minutes of exposure to allergens. Your vet may even equip you with an Epi-Pen for your dog so you can counteract certain allergic reactions if they occur.
Proactive Allergy Prevention
Proper treatment of allergies, in conjunction with a preventative program to control fleas and ticks, should keep your dog symptom-free. The cleanliness of your home can impact your dog’s health as well. Make sure to vacuum and dust your home, including pet bedding, once or twice a week. To reduce problems with airborne allergies, keep your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters clean.
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