Dogs can get allergies and when this happens, they become very unhappy and uncomfortable. Majority of dog allergy conditions are related to their hair and skin although they can also suffer from respiratory problems especially if the allergy is allowed to linger without treatment.
Symptoms of an Allergy in Dogs
There are clear signs that your dog is suffering from an allergy: They are:
- Excessive scratching
- Non-stop licking
- Reddishness especially in the ears, mouth
- Gnawing and chewing at parts of the body
- Sounds of frustration, sneezing, wheezing
- Hair loss, skin rashes
Puppies generally don’t get allergies unless is pertains to food or air pollutants. Allergies develop with adult dogs or dogs who are at least a year old and these adult dogs usually suffer from a combination of different allergic reactions, mostly environment-related.
Step 1: Bring your Dog in For Examination
If your dog manifests any of the signs of an allergy, take him to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will subject your dog to a series of physical examination, skin and blood tests to check for parasites, fleas, mites, or infection.
Allergens found in dogs are categorized according to:
- Contact sources are the most common and come from mold, dust mites, plants
- Food – the most common foods dogs are allergic to are dairy, beef, lamb, chicken, fish, wheat, soy, and corn
- Flea infestation, fungus, yeast infection, bacterial infection
- Inhalants like pollen. Chemicals, dander
The blood should be extracted when the allergy is peaking but many vets prefer to conduct a physical exam before extracting blood. They will also consider other conditions aside from allergy like hypothyroidism or a compromised immune system. This is because the cause can often be diagnosed with the physical exam and skin test. Vets also do this to minimize the trauma for both dog and pet owner.
Allergy testing is critical because the dog’s skin can affect the overall health of a dog. When the skin is infected, it becomes inflamed and sensitive especially to bacteria and secondary invaders. Thus, the allergy could become compounded by another health issue. Unfortunately, dogs do not normally have the kind of immune system humans have to fight secondary invaders.
The only reason a vet will proceed with a blood test before a skin patch test is if the condition of the dog is severe. Blood tests results come in quickly compared to skin tests. A skin allergy test takes time to process and will require the dog to stay still for a few minutes. Most dogs can’t do this especially if they feel itchy so the vet resorts to sedating the animal. Skin allergy tests are not always accurate if your dog was given any kind of medication within the last 30 to 60 days prior to the skin test. Thus, the test may have to wait.
Another test that can be done is dissecting the diet of the dog and ruling out different ingredients slowly. This usually takes up to 3 months to finish since there is a process of elimination involved.
Treatment for allergies include:
- Drugs to treat the inflammation
- Dietary supplements
- Changing shampoo/soap
- Immune modulators
- Allergy shots
Once an allergy starts in a dog, it does not go away on its own. It will slowly get worse so the best course of action is to seek medical attention immediately.