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Does Your Dog Have Allergies?

Meet Toby. He’s our cockapoo.

Toby has had allergies since he was about three years old. They started as food allergies and are now environmental as well.

His care involves a dog food with a special protein as well as a serum injection every two weeks.

Do you suspect your dog may have an allergy? If so, you might have noticed some of the following symptoms:

  • Dry, itchy skin

  • Excessive scratching or licking

  • Hot spots

  • Ear infections

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

As mentioned earlier, there are two types of allergies your pet can suffer from:

  1. Food

  2. Environmental

Let’s talk about food allergies first.

Food Allergies

Ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies. Some of the breeds that are prone to food allergies are: Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherds and Retrievers. The most common food allergens are chicken, beef, dairy, wheat and the least common food allergens are rabbit, fish, venison and potato to name a few. And, most dogs are usually allergic to more than one protein.

The most effective way to diagnose food allergies is through an elimination diet which means taking a dog off all the food it is eating and put him on a food that he has never had before. Once the dog has improved, we start to reintroduce the old foods that may have caused the problem in the first place. If he has a reaction, which usually takes a few days to a few weeks, then we know he has a food allergy.

Now let’s talk about environmental allergies.

Environmental Allergies

Just as your dog can have an allergy to food, they can also be allergic to irritants in their environment. Things like ragweed, grasses, trees, mold and dust mites as well as materials like cotton or wool and chemicals in cleaning products.

If your dog has an allergy to something in its indoor environment, it will exhibit symptoms all year. If the allergy is to an outdoor irritant, your pet may have seasonal reactions. The more your dog is exposed to those irritants, the more intense their allergic response becomes.

Testing for environmental allergens is called an intradermal allergy test and the procedure is usually performed by a veterinary dermatologist. The test involves shaving an area on the dog’s side and a grid containing small dots is drawn on the skin and the skin is injected with small amounts of environmental allergens such as house dust, pollen, yeast etc. Within 15-25 minutes redness and swelling appears at the site of the positive reactions. When the tests are complete, a decision will be made whether or not to proceed with a program of immunotherapy to treat the allergies.

Following are some tips to help alleviate your pet’s environmental allergies:

  • Make sure your pet is drinking fresh, good quality water that doesn’t contain fluoride, heavy metals or other contaminants

  • Be careful not to over-vaccinate or over-medicate your pet

  • Bathe your pet. Bathing rinses away the allergens bringing your dog immediate relief

  • Check the air quality in your dog’s environment. Dogs are more sensitive to second-hand smoke and other airborne toxins than we are

If you think your dog might have some of the symptoms listed above, talk to your vet and get his or her professional opinion. Toby is now 12 years old and, apart from his allergies which are now under control, he is still a happy and fun loving member of our family.

If you know someone that has a dog that might have allergies, please share this article with them and if your dog has allergies, please share your experiences with us by commenting below.

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