FAQ about Allergy Symptoms In Dogs
Allergy symptoms in dogs can vary somewhat, depending on the type of allergy the dog has. Dogs, like humans, can be allergic not only to different things, but can come in contact with allergens by different means. Here are some frequently asked questions about allergy symptoms in dogs.
Why do dogs have allergies?
Dogs have allergies when their immune system starts to recognize certain agents (allergens) as a problem for it. The immune system mounts a response after encountering the agent the first time. When it meets the agent, or allergen the next time, or perhaps even much later, it releases histamines in reaction to it. These histamines cause your dog to have an allergic response. The allergic response is actually supposed to be beneficial to your dog. It is supposed to help your dog’s body get rid of something that the immune system seems as harmful. The problem is that the allergen is often something quite harmless and the allergic response itself is excessive. For example, if your dog has a flea allergy, when a flea bites your dog his immune system releases histamine. The histamine causes your dog to feel intense itching, not the single flea bite. Instead of scratching to get rid of one flea, your dog’s body goes into overdrive and he reacts as though his entire body is under attack from fleas. The immune system has over-reacted.
What are some of the symptoms I should look for in my dog?
Allergy symptoms in dogs can vary, depending on the kind of allergy. Most allergies share the following common symptoms:
- itching or oozing skin
- skin lesions and scabs; crusty skin
- eyes that are itchy and runny
- itching at the base of the tail
- loss of hair
- ear infections
- chewing and licking the paws
- continual licking, chewing, scratching
- bacterial or yeast infections on the skin
What kinds of allergies are there?
There are four main types of allergies: flea allergies, canine atopy for things that dogs inhale, food allergies, and contact allergies for things that come in contact with your dog’s skin. There is some dispute over whether flea allergies or skin allergies are the most common form of allergy. Flea allergies affect the skin, so they may be included in some estimates about skin allergies.
What should I do if I think my dog has an allergy?
The first thing to do is to make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Your vet will ask you questions about your dog’s history and conduct some tests. Blood work may be necessary.
What kind of things are dogs allergic to?
Dogs are allergic to many of the same things as people. Here are some of the things your dog could be allergic to:
- tree pollen
- weed pollen
- household cleaners
- dust mites
- certain medications
- certain proteins
- certain grains
Your dog could be allergic to many things. Trying to determine what your dog is allergic to is not always easy. There is a blood test now to determine what a dog is allergic to faster, but it is a little more expensive than previous allergy testing. However, it does allow you to find out much quicker what your dog is allergic to.
What happens once my dog’s allergies are diagnosed?
Once you have found what your dog is allergic to, you will need to make some adjustments in your dog’s life. You may need to change your dog’s diet, for example, if he has a food allergy. Or, you may need to keep him away from tree pollens and grasses at certain times of the year. If your dog is allergic to dust mites you may need to vacuum your house frequently and keep the carpets shampooed to keep the dust mite population down. And so on. It does take some effort to live with a dog with allergies.
You will also probably need to bathe your dog regularly (probably weekly) and keep his skin healthy. You should talk to your vet about a bathing schedule and skin care for your dog. Fatty acid supplements are usually recommended for the skin. Depending on the severity of your dog’s problem, your vet may also recommend a cortisone shot occasionally or another medication.
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