Signs Your Dog Has Allergies: Dog Allergies Breakdown

Signs Your Dog Has Allergies: Dog Allergies Breakdown

Is your dog scratching, sneezing or rubbing its face against carpeting and furniture? Do you notice redness and odor inside your dog's ears? These can all be signs that your dog has an allergy. Like humans, dogs can be sensitive to certain foods, insect bites or environmental factors and may need treatment.

What Are Allergies?

First things first: What exactly are allergies? An allergy is the immune system's way of notifying you of hypersensitivity to a particular substance, which is referred to as an allergen. Most allergies are caused by proteins from animals, foods, insects or plants. The body responds to the allergen's protein molecules in a complex way on a cellular level, releasing histamines that can cause swelling, itching, redness and inflammation.

What are the Allergy Classifications?

Allergies are classified in multiple ways. These are:

  • The type of allergy (food allergy; flea allergy)
  • The time it takes for an immune system reaction (immediate; delayed)
  • The clinical signs of the allergen (the areas of the body affected)
  • The route the allergen uses to enter the body (inhalant; skin contact; food)

What are the Most Common Allergies in Dogs?

The most common allergies in dogs are flea allergies, seasonal/environmental allergies and food allergies. Flea allergy dermatitis results in itching, whereas seasonal and environmental allergies can cause excessive face rubbing. Food allergies can cause gastrointestinal upset or increased bowel movements.

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Flea Allergies Dermatitis

For dogs that suffer from flea allergy dermatitis, a strict flea prevention protocol is necessary. Oral and topical prevention products are available; however, oral flea prevention products tend to be more effective than topical ones. For a dog with flea allergies, it's vital to treat its environment: vacuum well to remove fleas, larvae, pupae and eggs, then throw out the vacuum bag. If an exterminator is needed, be sure to indicate that the problem is a flea infestation. To treat itchy skin while you get that flea problem under control, Eye Envy® On the Spot Healing and Itch Relief Spray can provide comfort. Along with your regular flea prevention protocol, our Moisturizing Pet Shampoo can be used. Its all-natural ingredients include white vinegar and vegetable glycerin, which serve as natural flea repellants.

Food Allergies in Dogs

If a food allergy is suspected, a hypoallergenic diet with limited ingredients will need to be implemented for at least 12 weeks. Hypoallergenic dog foods are manufactured with protein sources that are less common or are hydrolyzed to help reduce allergic reactions. During the 12 weeks, all other treats, flavored medications and human food should be eliminated.

Seasonal or Environmental Allergies

The causes of seasonal or environmental allergies can be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. Antihistamines or oral medications may need to be incorporated into your dog's health routine. For severe cases, your veterinarian may prescribe steroids in the short term to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Other seasonal or environmental therapies may include an allergy vaccine, known as immunotherapy. The success rate of immunotherapy is 60% to 70%, which makes it the best long-term solution for allergy control.

What Do I Do if I Suspect My Dog Has Allergies?

If you suspect that your dog has allergies, consult your vet. Allergy skin testing for seasonal and environmental allergies can be performed that will help determine which allergens are causing a problem for your pooch. This is done with mild sedation: small amounts of certain allergens are injected into the skin. The reactions are then monitored. These tests can cost from $300 to $700.

Although incorporating a hypoallergenic diet for three months is the only way to determine a food allergy, your vet can provide food recommendations that may work best for your dog.

For flea allergy dermatitis, your veterinarian can provide you with the pros and cons of each type of flea treatment and help guide you to make an informed decision.