Do you know that allergies are not just common to humans, but also to dogs, too? Just like us, they can overreact to allergens in foods or from the environment. Puppies with allergies need extra care to prevent complications and help alleviate the symptoms.
To know how to take care of and treat puppies with allergies, you have to identify what type of allergy they have and what causes it.
The most common manifestations of dog allergies affect the skin, but there can also be other kinds of symptoms associated with it. The main causes of skin allergies in pups are flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies and environmental allergens.
1. Flea allergy dermatitis
Flea bites can make a dog scratch, but this is not caused by a bite. Flea allergy dermatitis is actually an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Affected dogs feel extremely itchy and uncomfortable, especially at the back and the base of the tail, and their skin may look red, moist or scabbed.
- Comb your dog with a special flea comb at least once a day, especially during flea season. Do this on a white cloth or towel, so you would see what’s coming off your dog’s fur as you comb. Kill those fleas you removed immediately.
- Bathe your dog in shampoo, especially flea and tick shampoo, to help kill any fleas in your dog, and help soothe skin itchiness and irritation. Use gentle, hypoallergenic shampoos for dogs who already suffered from too much itching, or better yet, use medicated shampoo recommended by its veterinarian.
- Use pest repellents or topical insecticides to get rid of fleas.
- Bathe your dog more often so that it won’t be attractive to fleas.
2. Food allergies
Some dogs also experience allergies triggered by certain foods or food ingredients. Common dog allergens include chicken, beef, lamb, fish, corn, eggs, milk, wheat or soy. Sometimes, dogs develop allergies from eating the same food every day for a long time.
Dogs react quite differently to the food they’re allergic to as compared to humans. While humans may experience swelling of the throat, a dog would most likely itch.
If your dog is allergic to something he is eating, he may not only experience uncomfortable skin conditions (itchiness, hives, facial swelling, poor skin and coat, etc.) but also symptoms of gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea, vomiting, gas, etc. Also, watch out for these symptoms:
- Oozing skin
- Coughing, sneezing
- Snoring caused by inflammation on throat
- Red and/or itchy, runny eyes
- Swollen paws or chewing on paws
- Nasal discharge
- Itch, inflammation or infections on ears
- Constant licking
Diagnosis and treatment:
- To find what causes the allergy, try a special elimination diet, but make sure to consult a veterinarian first before trying. Elimination diet is a temporary eating plan that removes certain foods that may be causing allergies for eight to 12 weeks, feeding new sources of protein and carbohydrates, and then adding the original foods again one at a time to gauge the dog’s reaction. Once you have figured out what causes your dog’s allergy, you should avoid giving it to your dog and plan a substitute for it, especially if it’s a source of important nutrients.
- Another method that works in diagnosing a food allergy is by feeding your pup a hydrolyzed protein diet prescribed by the vet. With this method, you will not feed your pet anything but the diet until symptoms go away. Then, in the same way as an elimination diet, you can reintroduce the old foods to assess what causes the allergic reaction.
- Try feeding your dog a home-cooked diet so that you can control the ingredients. Raw diets also work for some dogs.
- To treat skin irritation in dogs, use an oatmeal bath. Simply use baby oatmeal cereal or grind oatmeal in the food processor. Stir it into a bath of warm water and let your pet soak in it. Then, proceed with bathing your pet thoroughly.
- If your pet has already experienced some irritation, you can make use of topical creams that can be applied to the affected area to ease the hives, swelling or oozing on the skin.
- If your dog is having severe allergic reactions, take it to an emergency veterinary hospital. These symptoms might also be a sign of another medical condition.
3. Environmental allergens
When it’s not caused by fleas nor food, then some other factors might be causing your dog’s allergic extreme itchiness and inflammations on the skin. The areas on a dog’s body usually affected by this type of allergy include ears, wrists, flanks, groins, underarms, area between toes and the area around the eyes. Sometimes, it may be associated with respiratory conditions. Here are some allergens that may trigger reactions:
- Pollen from grass, tree or weed
- Plastic and rubber materials
- Dust and dust mites
- Mold spores and fungus
- Cleaning products
- Insecticidal shampoo
- Cigarette smoke and vehicle emissions
- Flea-control products
There are also irritants that are seasonal, triggering allergies that are more aggressive during specific seasons of the year. This is the reason why some dogs seem to have allergies for a quite some time but goes off on its own later on.
- Prevention is better than cure. Always keep the dog’s pen or other living areas clean and sanitary. If your dog is an indoor pet, always keep your house clean. You may also invest in an air purifier for your home.
- Regularly bathe your pet, especially as it comes into contact with pollen or dusty environment.
- Make sure no one smokes in your pet’s environment. Keep it away from places with high amounts of airborne toxins.
- Give your pet clean, good-quality drinking water – those that don’t contain fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals and other contaminants.
- Don’t over-vaccinate your pet. Being anxious about preventing all types of viruses might only make them prone to environmental irritants that trigger allergic responses.
- Intradermal allergy testing can be done for allergic dogs, similar to the test for humans. It helps identify allergens that cause the symptoms. After discovering the allergen, the dog must undergo hyposensitization therapy, wherein it would be injected with small amounts of the allergen to desensitize the immune system.
- If your dog is allergic to pollen, wipe them with pet grooming wipes immediately after taking them from a walk. This is an easy way to remove allergens easily.
- Talk to your pet veterinarian/dermatologist to know what type of bathing products and treatments might be suitable for your dog. If a dog has developed allergic reactions to its own shampoo, then you might need a milder, hypoallergenic product.
- The vet might also recommend medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids to reduce discomfort and itchy skin conditions. There are also over-the-counter creams or sprays that are available to ease the symptoms.
- Use natural supplements to help stop itching and improve coat condition.
Acute allergic reactions
This is a more severe form of allergic reactions, which can be fatal if not treated. Dogs may also experience anaphylactic shock if they had severe allergic reactions to allergens. The usual things that can cause anaphylactic shock to dogs are vaccines, medications and bee stings. However, this type of allergic reactions are rare in dogs.
- You must always observe your dog after introducing a new vaccine or drug. If the dog becomes allergic to a specific kind of medication, refrain from using it and consult a veterinarian. If your dog needs that medication, your veterinarian would substitute it with another.
- If your dog develops swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, throat or earflaps, take it to your vet. They might treat it with an antihistamine and other related drugs.