What’s the Sitch with that Itch? Top Dog Allergens and How to Avoid Them
Are your dog’s days punctuated by bouts of intense scratching or sneezing? If so, he might have allergies. Experts estimate that nearly 20 percent of dogs will develop an allergy to something over the course of their lifetimes, and at Parkside Animal Hospital, we take dermatology and pet allergies very seriously. Dr. Bertrand, Dr. Holden, or Dr. Hansford will inspect your pet’s skin at every preventive care visit, but please contact us between appointments if you suspect that your pet has an allergy.
Signs that Your Dog Has Allergies
Your dog’s symptoms will vary depending upon the cause of his allergy and can range from subtle changes in behavior to inflamed, irritated skin.
Be on the lookout for the following:
- Chronic ear infections
- Anal gland issues
- Runny eyes
Types of Dog Allergies
Dogs can suffer from environmental allergies or food allergies, both of which can manifest as a skin condition called allergic dermatitis. The scratching and licking that accompanies allergic dermatitis can leave your dog vulnerable to secondary infections, making an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment extremely important.
The primary source of highly uncomfortable allergies in dogs are environmental allergens, which include seasonal allergens plus other substances or critters that our dogs come across in their daily lives.
Common environmental allergens include:
- Bug bites (especially fleas)
- Dust mites
- The dander of other animals or feathers
- Grasses and trees
Dogs with food allergies can experience gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting or diarrhea, or have itchy skin, poor coat condition, and even chronic ear infections—or a combination of tummy and skin problems.
While virtually any food or ingredient can trigger an allergic reaction, the following foods are the most common culprits:
- Dairy products
- Meats such as beef, lamb, or chicken
Avoidance is Key
If your dog is diagnosed with an allergy, his comfort and quality of life depend heavily upon how well he can avoid the allergen coupled with the proper administration of appropriate allergy treatments.
Here are some tips for mitigating your dog’s exposure and treating his allergies:
- Stay up-to-date with preventive care and parasite prevention.
- Feed him a veterinarian-approved diet that doesn’t contain his known allergen.
- Wash his paws when he comes inside if he has a grass allergy.
- If mold and mildew are his triggers, keep him indoors as much as possible on rainy or humid days.
- Avoid the known allergen as much as possible, and use doctor-recommended treatments when applicable, such as medicated shampoos, topical treatments, omega 3-6-9 supplements, and customized allergy serums.