It is interesting that many dogs receive less than adequate treatment for allergies, owing to perceptions that a dog’s itching and scratching are natural behaviors.
Too often I’ve seen owners look at their dog scratching and either ignore it or after a while nudge them and say “don’t scratch”.
The stress on dog’s physical and psychological health from allergies can be harsh, in fact it can be torturing for a dog. Many people don’t even realise that dogs are suffering from their constant itching and scratching has become the reason behind many organizations dedicated to the science of dog nutrition.
The disposition of a dog’s skin and coat reflects the general health of their immunological system.
Common signs of allergic reactions:
- develop areas of thinning with the skin becoming red and inflamed
- break outs and flaking skin
- coat is oily with a bad odour
- persistent scratching or chewing
Because so many dog’s have assorted degrease of these symptoms, often owners fail to spot the condition as an actual disease. A basic appreciation of the differing kinds of allergies is the centre of determining the most effective trail to relief.
There are five basic types of allergies that effect canines :
- contact (with chemicals or other irritants such as grass seeds)
- fleas (yes many dogs are actually having an allergic reaction to the flea)
- food (the list of possible food allergies is long, especially bad if you feed table scraps)
Food and bacterial are types are far more difficult to diagnose clearly and to cure. Treatment usually consists of Steroids (cortisones ), antihistamines, and antibiotics however these drugs provide transient relief but fail to treat the actual underlying cause.
The best approach is to have your dog checked thoroughly by your veterinarian to determine what type of allergy they are presenting.
Contact with a substance may be difficult to deal with if it occurring in quantities in the home environment, but keeping the grass short to prevent contact with seeds that can cause awful painful reactions is a wise move.
Fleas need to be eradicated, not just a chemical put on the dog, but the whole house and yard cleared. This is still difficult as fleas are highly mobile and can return quickly. Many owners find lime a useful strategy to reduce flea numbers in the yard and under the house.
Food allergies mean examining the dogs diet honestly – all parts of the diet including table scraps. Switching brands of dog food won’t always help – the ingredients may be the same, just another brand.
One of the most common bacterial allergies seen in dogs is Pyoderma and is usually related to one of the Staph bacteria. It is more common in dogs who are already displaying allergic skin reactions – the dog scratches a lot, breaking or grazing the skin giving the bacteria a chance to work on that wound in ways the bacteria can’t work on intact healthy skin. Allergies often build up over time, so a dog that has skin issues from one allergy is more prone to developing pyoderma as a secondary allergic reaction. However, this means you are now fighting two allergies and have a harder road to travel.
Inhalant allergies are one of the most common and very difficult if not impossible to prevent as they are substances in the air such as moulds, pollens, dust mites. Most people display respiratory reactions to these allergens, but dogs rarely do and instead display skin reactions.
So the best approach is to feed your dog well, exercise regularly, groom your dog often and examine the skin as you do so. Make sure you know your dogs skin well – what is normal in the look, texture and temperature of the skin. Keep your dog free of fleas and the coat healthy and untangled if the dog has a long coat.
Now you have the best chance to notice any changes early and deal with them quickly giving your dog a much happier life and saving you all from expensive and stressful veterinarian visits and attempts to diagnose and correct a severe issue.