The only thing worse than having allergies is not knowing what you're allergic to. Identifying your allergen correctly is a big step towards finding the proper treatment and ensuring your health stays in good shape.
But when it comes to our furry friends, identifying those allergies can be a bit more complicated because they can't exactly tell us what's bothering them. Is there someone in your life who has a pet with allergies? Or perhaps that someone is you?
Here are five of the most common types of dog allergies, how to identify them, and how you can manage them.
Environmental Allergies / Atopy
Atopy is a type of environmental allergy. When your dog has atopy, its immune system responds to inhaled or eaten allergens rather than coming into contact with them via the skin or eyes.
As with other types of allergies, symptoms may vary from mild to severe. Some dogs have seasonal sneezing and watery eyes, for example, whereas others experience chronic ear infections and even asthma-like symptoms like coughing or labored breathing.
Atopy is diagnosed
through a combination of testing for specific antibodies in the blood (IgE) and performing allergy tests on your dog (skin test). It's to look for evidence that they have been exposed to common allergens like pollen or mold in your home environment (inhalant allergies).
Food allergies are rare but can be severe. The most common food allergens are beef, chicken, dairy, eggs, fish, and pork. If your dog is allergic to any of these foods, it may experience skin rashes, itching, and hair loss. The most effective way to treat food allergies is by changing their diet to one that does not contain the offending ingredients.
It would help if you also spoke with your vet about whether or not it would be beneficial for you or your pet to take over-the-counter antihistamines before feeding him the new diet to reduce his reactions during this transition period. A prescription drug like Apoquel for dogs is very effective
in controlling the symptoms of allergy and provides relief from itching.
If your dog is allergic to fleas, it can develop a severe skin allergy. The fleas themselves are small wingless insects that live on the skin and hair of dogs. When they bite, they inject saliva into the host's body which helps them feed and reproduce. Dogs are allergic to this saliva, causing their immune system to overreact and produce antibodies against it. It causes itching in your dog's skin which manifests itself as constant scratching or even hair loss.
If you're noticing any unusual changes in your pet's behavior, such as excessive scratching or licking at their paws, skin, or fur, then treat them for fleas first before all else. There's no point in treating allergies if there's still an active source producing them.
Contact Allergies (Aeroallergens)
Contact allergies are caused
by exposure to airborne allergens. These allergens include pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander. Contact allergies are more common in dogs than they are in humans. However, it's important to note that humans can also develop a contact allergy to their pet's fur or dander from constant skin-to-skin contact.
You can treat contact allergies with antibiotics and antihistamines, but only if you catch the allergy early on. If left untreated for too long, treatment options may be limited, especially if the dog has developed an atopic condition like eczema or asthma because of repeated exposure to these irritants over time.
Medication allergies are just as common in dogs as food allergies. If you think your dog might be allergic to a medication, keep track of their symptoms and bring it up with your vet. They can help you determine whether the allergy is to the medicine or its ingredients. If it's an ingredient, they may be able to prescribe a different brand that contains less of that allergen.
If you're giving any new medications to your pup (such as heartworm preventative), begin by giving half the recommended dose and watch for side effects. If they don't occur after a few days or weeks, increase the dosage until you reach full strength. If there are no adverse reactions within three months' worth of administering this standard dosage level, then the chances are good that your dog won't have any issues with this particular drug.
Care for the Dog With Allergies as if Its Life Depends on It
If your dog has allergies, it can be a very frustrating experience for both of you. Allergies are a common problem in dogs, and there are many different types of allergies. Skin allergies are perhaps the most common type of allergy in dogs and can be treated with medication or by changing your dog's diet.
When you're unsure about what is causing your dog's skin allergy, take them to see a vet who will be able to diagnose them properly through testing and examination. Once they have been diagnosed, treatment options include everything from over-the-counter shampoos and ointments to prescription medications that target specific allergens based on their source.
It's essential to find the right treatment plan. Once you have that information, you can work with your vet to find the best treatment option for your dog's specific needs.