Most pet owners have experienced an allergic reaction on their dogs skin, in their ears, feet, or in their breathing. But where does the allergies come from? Well, there are many types of allergies that can affect your pet but all of them are caused by an allergens or agents that cause a reaction in your dog. Allergens can come from food, air, grass, dust, cleaning products, molds or pollen just to name a few. Here are these main classifications of dog allergies and what to do if your dog exhibits symptoms:
Allergens that are inhaled or come into contact with the skin can cause allergies known as atopy. Common sources are pollens, molds, and dust mites.
• Chewing at the feet
• Constant licking of the flank (side) and groin area
• Rubbing of the face
• Inflamed ears or recurrent ear infections
• Recurrent hot spots in dogs and pinpoint facial scabbing in cats
• Asthma-like wheezing and respiratory problems (more likely in cats)
Treatment: The most effective long-term solution is to change the dog’s living circumstances to avoid the allergen. The atopic dog is usually allergic to many different allergens, however, and often it is not possible to avoid exposure to them all.
Flea allergy dermatitis
Allergies that result from flea-bites are referred to as flea allergy dermatitis. However the flea allergy is actually sensitivity to flea saliva and is a very common condition in dogs. It’s not the bite of the flea that causes most of the itching in dogs it’s the saliva.
The saliva causes irritation way out of proportion to the actual number of fleas on the pup so even though your dog may only have a few or no evidence of fleas they can still have the allergen on their bodies.
• Red itchy bumps or blisters on sparsely-haired areas of the skin and those exposed to the allergen such as the belly, feet, or muzzle
• Intense scratching
• Hair loss (in chronic conditions)
Suggestions for flea control:
• If you suspect or know fleas are a problem for your dog try combing at least once daily, every day during pest season with a flea comb. Do this on a white towel or other light colored cloth so you can see what’s coming off your dog as you comb. Flea ‘dirt’ (actually flea feces) looks like real dirt, but when suspended in a little rubbing alcohol or water will dissolve and release a red color (blood) allowing you to discern real dirt from flea dirt.
• Bathe your dog often. A soothing bath will kill any fleas on your dog, help heal skin irritation, and make her feel more comfortable and less itchy. Also, clean animals aren’t as attractive to fleas. Pick a non-grain (no oatmeal) herbal shampoo.
• Make liberal use of an all-natural pest repellent like Natural Flea and Tick Defense during flea season.
• For some dogs with a serious case of flea allergy dermatitis, try an oral drug called Comfortis. It is a chemical, but it’s considered the least hazardous of all similar drugs. All drugs can have side effects, but Comfortis has reportedly fewer than topical insecticides.
A reaction caused by something your pet comes in direct contact with, such as carpet fibers, plastics, and other things. Allergic contact dermatitis the most rare of the allergy diseases. It occurs when an animal’s skin overreacts to certain small molecules in the environment. Substances, which can cause allergic contact dermatitis, include certain antibiotics applied to the skin; metals such as nickel; materials such as rubber or wool; and chemicals such as dyes and carpet deodorizers.
• Itchy red bumps and inflammation of the skin on areas such as feet, chin, nose, hocks, stifles, and the undersurface of the body
• Moist, weepy spots, blisters, and crusts.
• Skin becomes rough and scaly and hair is lost.
• Excessive scratching damages the skin and sets the stage for secondary pyoderma.
Treatment: Consider the area of involvement and identify the chemical or skin allergen causing the problem. Prevent further exposure. Treat infected skin with a topical antibiotic ointment such as triple antibiotic. Topical and oral corticosteroids prescribed by your veterinarian can relieve itching and inflammation.
Certain allergies occur from items your pet ingests, and are typically called food allergies.Food allergies account for about 10-15% of all allergies in dogs and cats. Food allergies may show up concurrently with allergies to pollen, dust, etc. Occasionally, dogs with true food allergies may have increased bowel movements and soft stool. Food allergies should not be confused with food intolerances, which are not true allergies, and generally cause diarrhea and vomiting.
• Itching, especially face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal area
• Ear problems, often yeast-related
• Skin infections that respond to antibiotics, but then recur as soon as the antibiotic therapy ceases
Treatment: If you suspect your pet has allergies, visit your veterinarian. The type of allergy and severity of the symptoms will determine how your veterinarian decides to treat them.
Quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I call it ‘nature’s Benadryl’ because it does a great job suppressing histamine release from mast cells and basophiles.
Histamine is what causes much of the inflammation, redness and irritation characteristic of an allergic response. By turning off histamine production with a quercetin supplement, we can suppress or at least moderate the effects of inflammation.
Bromelain and papain. Bromelain and papain are proteolytic enzymes that increase the absorption of quercetin, making it work more effectively. They also suppress histamine production.
One of the reasons I use quercetin, bromelain and papain together is they also suppress prostaglandin release. Prostaglandins are another pathway by which inflammation can occur. By suppressing prostaglandins, we can decrease the pain and inflammation associated with irritated mucous membranes and body parts. Using the three substances in combination provides some natural pain and inflammation control.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation throughout the body. Adding them into the diet of all pets — particularly pets struggling with seasonal environmental allergies – is very beneficial. The best sources of omega 3s are krill oil, salmon oil, tuna oil, anchovy oil and other fish body oils.
Coconut oil. I also recommend coconut oil for allergic pets. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which helps decrease the production of yeast. Using a fish body oil with coconut oil before inflammation flares up in your pet’s body can help moderate or even suppress the inflammatory response.
Taking Preventative Measures
By avoiding allergens and taking precautions you can lower your dog’s risk and exposure to agents causing allergies. Allergens include mites, grasses, molds, and pollens. Elimination of allergens is a challenge. The following is list of techniques that help:
• Running air filters
• Keeping windows closed
• Dusting with a damp cloth
• Vacuuming frequently using a HEPA-filtered vacuum
• Do not smoke around your dog
• Wash bedding with hot water and use perfume-free detergent, rinsing twice
• Choose cotton for bedding
• Keep your pet on tile or linoleum rather than carpet
• Rinse soap from floors after mopping them
• Pets should not be kept in garages, laundry rooms, damp basements, or dusty barns.
• Keep pets off lawns when mowing and rinse off their feet when they come in from the yard.
• Keep your pet indoors during early morning and late evening when pollen counts are high.
• Keep your pet off treated wood decks and out of cedar dog houses.
• Avoid cedar chips in pet beds
• Feed only fresh pet food kibble that is not dusty
• Store unfed kibble in the freezer
• Use stainless or glass pet bowls rather than plastic bowls.
• Frequent baths give complete, immediate relief to an itchy pet and wash away the allergens on the coat and skin. Make sure to use a grain free (oatmeal free) shampoo.
• Foot soaks are also a great way to reduce the amount of allergens your pet tracks into the house and spreads all over her indoor environment.
• Keep the areas of your home where your pet spends most of her time as allergen-free as possible.
• Vacuum and clean floors and pet bedding frequently using simple, non-toxic cleaning agents rather than household cleaners containing chemicals.
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