Just like their owners, dogs suffer from allergies and can have reactions to certain foreign substances.
Dogs suffer from allergies: Types of allergies
Allergies are a reaction (or over- or misreaction) by the body’s immune system to certain foreign substances. Common allergies include:
Skin allergies: Skin allergies or “allergic dermatitis” are the most frequent kind of allergic reaction in all types of canines from those who use small and medium dog kennels to even the bigger dog breeds.
For example, allergic dermatitis is a reaction to flea bites (specifically, the saliva of fleas), in which your dog’s skin will become inflamed, red and scabby – especially around the base of his tail. Food allergies can also result in itchy skin – particularly around the paws and ears. Environmental allergens like pollen and dust also can irritate your dog’s skin.
Food allergies: Food allergies produce an immune response that causes itching, hives, facial swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, or some combination of these. In the rarest of cases, your dog may experience anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can turn deadly if not treated promptly. Note that a true food allergy is not the same as sensitivities to certain foods – which are much more common, though some of the presenting symptoms are very similar.
Acute allergic reactions: An acute — or anaphylactic — allergic reaction is the most severe that dogs — and humans, too — can experience. These reactions can be fatal if not treated. The most common causes are bee stings and vaccine reactions. Watch your dog closely after you after you administer any new drug or vaccine. Although anaphylactic reactions can be fatal, you can treat most allergic reactions that involve swelling and inflammation with antihistamines.
Dogs suffer from allergies: Symptoms
Signs of an allergic reaction in your pet may include: itching, swelling (of the face, lips, ears, eyelids, and earflaps), hives, red and inflamed skin, vomiting, diarrhea, runny eyes, and sneezing.
Many of these symptoms, however, can also be the sign of some other medical condition, so if your dog starts to exhibit these signs, you should get him checked out by a veterinarian to get a correct diagnosis.
Though some allergies may be easy to diagnose – such as flea allergy dermatitis (evidenced by the presence of fleas) – others, like food allergies, can be a bit more difficult. Diagnosing these allergies usually requires feeding your dog an elimination diet.
Dogs suffer from allergies: Treatment
To treat an allergy in your dog, all you have to do is eliminate whatever is causing the allergy. Sounds simple, but it may not always be possible. For example, to rid your pooch of flea allergy dermatitis you may have to kill all the fleas and flea eggs in your dog’s environment. To treat food allergies, you will have to identify whatever ingredient in your hound’s diet that is causing the allergic reactions.
In addition to removing the cause of the allergy, your dog’s vet may also prescribe him medications to help control the symptoms. Though not a long-term solution, it will undoubtedly make your pooch’s life more bearable in the short run.
Kent Foster is the main editor of PupsBest.com, a blog where pet owners can find information about everything from how to best care for their pet to products that will improve life for you and your dog.