June 25, 2012
Allergies: They’re Not Just for People
Your dog has been scratching and licking himself a lot lately, his eyes are watery, and he keeps sneezing. Could it be a cold? Maybe fleas or other parasites? Possibly, but it’s also possible that your dog has allergies.
Some common canine allergens include:
Dogs may also be allergic to food (such as (beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy), although it can often take some serious detective work to figure out exactly what food or ingredient is causing the allergy. Typical symptoms of a food allergy can include itchy skin, breathing difficulties, and gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea. Your vet will be able to help you figure out exactly which substance is causing the allergy, most likely via an elimination diet where certain things are cut out and/or replaced until the reaction stops and the culprit is identified.
General allergy symptoms to watch out for are:
The raw, exposed skin from constant licking can also contract bacterial or yeast skin infections, which can cause hair loss, scabs, and crust on the skin. To prevent your dog from scratching and licking this exposed skin, your vet will most likely put your dog in an Elizabethan collar, more commonly known as the “cone of shame.”
If you think your dog might have allergies, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. The vet will most likely want to conduct blood and/or skin tests, and possibly prescribe an elimination diet, to determine what the allergen is. In terms of allergy susceptibility, the ASPCA notes that terriers, setters, retrievers, and brachycephalic dogs such as pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers tend to be predisposed to allergies. However, any dog can develop allergies over the course of his life.
Generally, allergies can be treated/prevented by removing the suspect allergens from the environment:
If these methods don’t work or aren’t sufficient, other options do exist, including:
As always, if your dog is showing signs of allergies or any illness, please make sure to consult your veterinarian before trying any over-the-counter remedies. While the internet can be a valuable tool for gathering information, only a vet can customize a treatment plan for your pet that will give him the best chance at the best health and recovery.
Thank you to the ASPCA for furnishing this very valuable information!
Top: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr. Image is cropped.
Bottom: Ewen Roberts via Flickr