Allergies are quite common in dogs and might be the culprit behind your dog’s itchiness.
You’re relaxing at home with your dog at your feet when suddenly they begin to scratch an itch. They fold themselves almost entirely in half and stretch way out to reach the itchy spot.
It’s usually kind of cute. But your dog has been itching more and more lately. You applied their flea treatment not too long ago; fleas shouldn’t be to blame. What could be causing such constant itching? Your dog might have allergies.
Allergies are quite common in dogs and might be the culprit for your pup’s itchiness. Here’s how you can help your canine companion feel better quickly.
What causes dog allergies? What are the symptoms?
Dogs can be allergic to lots of things, just like people. There are a few types of allergies that are usually caused by something in their environment or something in their food.
Environmental factors can include things like
- flea bites
- molds or mildew.
Food allergens are typically caused by a specific protein or carbohydrate in your dog’s diet.
An allergic reaction happens when your dog’s immune system overreacts to an allergen as it mistakenly interprets the benign allergen as a threat and sends antibodies to combat it. That histamine-based response may be what is causing the itching.
The symptoms of allergies in dogs can include excessive itchiness or scratching, especially of the paws, belly, and tail area. There may also be discharge from your dog’s eyes, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your pup could also show excessive sneezing or wheezing breath.
How can I relieve my dog’s allergies?
Your first step should always be a trip to your veterinarian. If you suspect your dog has allergies, your vet can perform an allergy test to determine what, if anything, your dog is allergic to. Not all environmental or seasonal allergens can be detected with testing, but if so, your vet may prescribe medication to help alleviate your dog’s symptoms.
Food allergy testing is commonly done with an elimination diet. You start by eliminating one type of protein or carbohydrate from your dog’s diet for eight to twelve weeks. This time is necessary for your dog’s body to flush out all traces of the potentially offending food source.
After the time has passed, if you see a marked improvement, congratulations! You found what was ailing your pet, and can avoid it in the future. If not, you can consult with your veterinarian again, and possibly try a new food to eliminate.
Once you find a diet that works for your pup, you can also try rotating it every three or four months. It’s possible for dogs who have eaten the same thing for years to suddenly become allergic to it, so rotating your pet’s meals every few months can help prevent this.
Flea allergy dermatitis is pretty easy to diagnose and treat, as the presence of fleas on your dog’s body is an obvious visual cue. Treatment usually consists of applying a topical or internal medication that kills fleas before they can bite.
Can I do anything else?
There are natural remedies you can add to your dog’s care routine, though these solutions should be used only after consulting your veterinarian and in conjunction with their recommendations.
There are also natural supplements for allergies in dogs. Look for ones developed by veterinarians.
If you’re trying the food elimination treatment or medication needs time to kick in, so your dog is still itching their skin, especially to the point of bleeding, you can try giving your pup a weekly bath with specially medicated shampoo. Look for one tailored for your dog’s condition, whether that’s allergies, dry skin, or fleas.
With the right combination of medication and at-home habits, your dog’s allergies can be under control before you know it.
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Allergies in Dogs: Common, Commonly Misdiagnosed, or Both?
Food Allergies in Dogs: Allergies Are Not the Same as Food Intolerance
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine for Itching Dogs