We all know humans often suffer from seasonal allergies, and we are, unfortunately, quite familiar with all the misery those allergies can bring! Likewise, our canine companions can be miserable from similar seasonal allergies, as well as have allergic reactions from certain types of foods, pests, and other irritants. It’s important to know the symptoms of these various allergies and the best treatment options available.
Canine Allergies, Symptoms, and Reactions
Our canine companions suffer from seasonal allergies like we do, especially because they are closer to the ground, making it easier to inhale various irritants, such as pollen, mold spores, and dust mites.
These are the four major types of canine allergies, along with symptoms and reactions, that vets recommend to watch for in your dog. Each type also includes numerous contributing factors.
Atopy refers to airborne allergies. These are similar to the types of allergies humans suffer from as we inhale certain particles, and they differ somewhat based on seasonal changes. Other allergens are unfortunately year-round irritants. Here are some allergens that can affect your dog:
- Grass, tree (ash, cedar, and oak), and weed (goldenrod, ragweed) pollens (seasonal)
- Dust mites, mold, and mildew (potentially year-round)
While less common than the other categories of allergens, some dogs do suffer from reactions to things they come in contact with in the environment. These contact or environmental allergens can include the following:
- Bedding and carpeting
- Cleaning products and detergents
- Fabrics/fibers (including cotton and wool)
- Lawn and yard chemicals
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
You might think it’s the flea bites that cause the most common allergic reaction in your dog, but believe it or not, it’s flea saliva that irritates your dog’s skin the most.
Once again mimicking their human owners, dogs often develop dog food allergies to similar types of food, including the following:
- meats, such as beef, pork, and poultry
- dairy products, such as eggs and milk
- soy products
- grains, such as corn and wheat
Symptoms and reactions your dog can experience are very similar among the different allergies. They can include any number of the following:
- Itching: Most common reaction, combined with constant scratching, chewing, licking, or rubbing various parts of the body. These actions can result in rashes, blisters, inflamed skin, swollen paws, hair loss in patches, oozing sores, scabs, discharge, odor, and infections.
- Respiratory problems: While more common in cats, some dogs do develop asthmatic wheezing conditions due to airborne allergens.
- Eye and ear problems and infections: Dogs sometimes develop reddened, watery eyes and discharge from airborne allergens; and inflamed ears, discharge, and even ear infections from airborne allergens, food allergies, and ear mites.
- Severe reactions: Less common, but dangerous allergic reactions could range from hives and facial swelling, to anaphylaxis, an immediate severe reaction often leading to cardiac or respiratory failure.
The first and best option is to contact your veterinarian whenever you observe your dog suffering any type of allergic symptom or reaction. Let your vet know when your dog seems to have the most frequent symptoms or reactions; what parts of your dog’s body are causing the most itching; and responses to medications or treatments you have tried with your dog.
Your vet can confirm and correctly diagnose any allergies and treat your dog, as well as recommend safe, preferred treatments you can provide at home to ease your canine companion’s suffering.
These are some treatment options for the canine allergies discussed previously. It’s up to you as a responsible pet owner to choose what you believe is best for your canine companion, based on your knowledge of your pet and your vet’s recommendations.
Some natural remedies to consider include the following:
- Omega 3 fatty acids: bolster your dog’s immune system to diminish allergic reactions.
- Yucca: anti-inflammatory that improves the functioning of your dog’s immune system to relieve or resolve allergic reactions.
Natural dog foods & Supplements
Feeding your dog natural dog foods and supplements can also help decrease the likelihood of your dog developing food allergies. Many natural foods contain limited ingredients, as well as different protein sources, which lessens the chance of allergies developing in your dog.
Among pharmaceutical remedies to consider are the following:
- Antihistamines: combat or alleviate allergic symptoms or reactions.
- Flea and tick products: Advantage and Frontline are the most common applications to repel these pests.
- Immune Modulators or Shots: resolve allergic symptoms.
- Medicated shampoos/conditioners: alleviates allergic skin conditions.
- Steroids: oral or injections, can alleviate symptoms for days or up to six weeks, depending on the severity of a dog’s allergic symptoms or reactions.
Some veterinarian doctors recommend the following types of home remedies and treatments you can provide for your beloved canine companion to soothe allergic symptoms and reactions.
- Atopy/Seasonal Allergies
- Minimize your dog’s exposure to allergens.
- Use air filters inside to cut down on dust mites.
- Keep your dog inside, other than for elimination needs, during days when there is a high pollen count or immediately after mowing the grass.
- Don’t smoke around your dog.
- Bathe your dog with soothing medicated shampoos and conditioners.
- Provide high quality drinking water.
- Wash your dog’s bedding frequently in very hot water and use hypoallergenic detergent.
- Contact/Environmental Allergies
- Use non-toxic cleaning products.
- Wipe or soak your dog’s feet when she comes in from outside.
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
- As with seasonal allergies, bathe your dog with soothing medicated shampoos and conditioners.
- Comb your dog with a flea comb to remove fleas.
- Apply natural herbal dip flea and tick repellents that are gentle and less harsh on your dog’s skin.
- Food Allergies
- Try doing an elimination diet to determine what your dog may be allergic to by removing different dog food products.
- Alternately, follow your vet’s prescribed “diet trial” where you feed your dog only homemade dog food or hypoallergenic dog food for a period of time and observe changes in alleviation of allergic symptoms and reactions.
- Use stainless steel or glass dishes for your dog’s food; wash frequently.
Remain Alert, Avoid Emergencies
Remain alert to your canine companion’s behavior, and note anything out of the ordinary. By doing so, you should be able to avoid emergencies that could arise from your dog having a severe allergic reaction to airborne allergens, foods, pests, or other irritants that could be toxic.
Your canine companion is like another member of the family, so be as diligent about protecting your dog’s health as you are about your human family members’ and your own health.
View more articles written by K’Lee Banks.