You may be intimately familiar with allergies; sniffing, sneezing, and wiping your nose over and over again at a certain point of year, or in the presence of pet hair or a specific food allergen. You’re not alone. In fact, over 50 million Americans deal with allergies each year. But did you know that dogs can also suffer from allergies?
Imagine all the itchiness, sneezing, and general misery that comes along with allergies, and then think about not being able to reach for those soothing eye drops or other over-the-counter medications. That’s a quick look into how your dog could be feeling when having an allergic reaction. But never fear; this is where you come in to save the day.
Dog allergies can range from annoying to life-threatening, so it’s important to know what to look for when you suspect your canine may have come into contact with an allergen. With knowledge of causes, symptoms, and methods of treatment, you’ll be able to help your canine deal with allergies all year round.
Common Symptoms of Allergies
There are a few signs to watch out for that can help you determine whether your dog is dealing with allergies:
- Itchy, red skin or rashes on skin
- Constant scratching or licking
- Runny, watery eyes
- Chronic ear infections
- Facial swelling
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild itching to vomiting, depending on the type and severity of the reaction. Of course, there are numerous conditions that can cause a symptom like diarrhea, such as food sensitivity or bowel disruptions, so the best thing to do when you aren’t sure what’s causing a change in your dog’s health is to take a quick trip to the vet. From there, your vet can tell you what might be causing the symptoms in your dog.
Common Causes of Allergies
Before running to the pet store to desperately look for a generic allergy medicine for dogs, it’s important that you first identify what is causing your dog to have a reaction, as there are different treatments available for different types of allergies.
Canine Skin Allergies
Skin allergies, or allergic dermatitis, are caused by three main sources of allergens: fleas, food, and environment. If your dog is particularly allergic to flea bites, a certain food, or environmental allergens like pollen, dust, or even perfume, you might happen upon it vigorously scratching or biting itchy spots on the skin. Not only will your dog’s skin be irritated and sore, scratching those spots too hard can actually open the skin and lead to secondary infection. And what’s more, these allergens can also result in symptoms like runny noses and coughs; just like hay fever in humans.
Canine Food Allergies
While a food allergen can cause allergic dermatitis in your dog, it can also trigger a separate immunological response, which is more severe than itchy skin. Think of it as a person who’s allergic to peanuts accidentally eating peanut butter and going into anaphylactic shock: the response is immediate and sometimes life-threatening, depending on the severity of the allergy.
The same thing can happen to your dog when it ingests an allergen.
Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
Say your dog is exhibiting a few of the above symptoms associated with allergies. How do you begin to figure out what is causing the reaction? If the source of a reaction isn’t immediately obvious, fleas jumping all over your poor pup or a rash appearing right after you’ve applied a new skin medication, it can be difficult to identify exactly what is causing the symptoms. Some of the symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, can be connected to a wide range of conditions. At this point, your best bet is to take your dog to your vet, who may want to eliminate other possible causes before testing for allergies.
Treating or Easing Your Dog’s Allergies
Eliminate or Avoid the Source of the Allergy
At times, the easiest solution to a problem might be the best one. Destroy or remove the allergen from your dog’s vicinity; if your dog is having an allergic reaction to flea bites, use flea baths and medicine to rid it of the pests. If a certain medicine is causing your dog to have a reaction, see if your vet can provide a generic equivalent that won’t irritate your dog’s system. Obviously, this method won’t work for every allergen. It may prove impossible to keep your dog away from every dust mote in your home, but there are changes you can make at home to help ease your dog’s condition.
Soothe Itchy Skin with a Bath
If avoidance of the allergen isn’t possible, you may have to resort to managing the symptoms. Maybe your dog only suffers from seasonal allergies for a few weeks out of the year. In that case, managing minor symptoms like itchy skin won’t be too difficult; the trick is to keep your dog comfortable until canine allergy season is over.
Oatmeal baths provide short-term relief from canine skin allergies like pollen. Some dogs may only get itchy skin in a few places, like on their paws. In that case, help them find relief by applying a topical solution with hydrocortisone.
Try an Herbal Supplement Like Wapiti Labs’ Chest for Dogs
Wapiti Labs is dedicated to ensuring your pet’s health and safety, and that includes helping to support your dog’s seasonal allergies. Our Chest herbal supplement for dogs naturally supports normal respiratory function, warms the lungs, and expands the chest for easy breathing. When you notice your dog needs support with respiratory congestion, give our natural liquid supplement a try.