As a pet owner, you want the best for your furry friend. But Mother Nature has a different view sometimes. A recent study estimated that skin or allergy-related issues in dogs account for up to 40 percent of all vet visits.
Not only can the sniffling and scratching be unpleasant for your pet, but their allergies can take a toll on your bank account as well. As a pet owner, it’s crucial to understand the most common signs of allergies in dogs and how to keep your animals free and clear of any problems that may arise.
How Allergies Manifest in Dogs
While allergies can trigger multiple symptoms, the most common signs of allergies in dogs include biting, chewing, digging, and scratching at the skin, often to the effect of causing large, open wounds all over the body. Chronic ear infections are another common symptom of allergies.
Occasionally, dogs may suffer from respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and discharge from the nose or eyes. Food allergies can cause skin irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term effects can include seizures, arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic urinary tract infections, and other problematic issues.
What Types of Things Are Dogs Allergic To?
About 10 to 20 percent of all allergies in dogs are food-related. The overwhelming majority of dog allergies can be traced to environmental triggers, such as dust, pollen, mold, grass, and cigarette smoke. Your dog will develop symptoms after the allergen is inhaled or absorbed through their skin.
Atopy occurs when a dog is genetically programmed to have a hypersensitivity to one or more environmental allergens. Some breeds that are predisposed to atopy include Golden Retrievers, English Bulldogs, West Highland White Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Beagles.
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Allergies
The most common sign that your dog may have allergies is constant itching during specific seasons. In some cases, the itching will persist all year and hair loss will typically happen around the face, ears, under-arms, belly, and thighs as your dog tries to relieve himself.
There are also secondary problems that dog allergies can cause, including bacterial and yeast infections, runny eyes or noses, a generalized odor of the skin, or red eyes. Some dogs will “scoot” on their rear ends because they are itchy around the anal glands, which are specialized scent glands that are located inside of the rectum. You may also see hair loss or red, inflamed skin, often referred to by vets as “hot spots.”
What to Do if Your Dog has Allergies
If you think that your dog has allergies, visit your vet. They may want to know if your dog has any past history with allergies as this is an important factor when determining the best course of action.
If your pet has mild itching or is having a first-time reaction, it may be a good idea to simply treat them with medication prescribed by your vet and see how they respond. If the itching is severe or if your pooch has had the symptoms before, further testing will generally be in order. The vet will want to rule out possible culprits, including fleas and ticks, before concluding that your dog has allergies.
A diet trial may also be recommended to you, as well as fungal and bacterial cultures or ear cytology, which is designed to look for and identify microscopic infectious agents.
Managing Allergies in Your Dog
Treating allergies in your pets isn’t a quick fix, but it is possible. The first thing you will want to do is alleviate your pet’s symptoms. Steroids are typically prescribed by vets to do just that. There are also alternatives to steroids in the form of oral pills and topical ointments.
You will also want to manage secondary infections, such as bacterial or yeast infections. Your vet will prescribe oral or topical antibiotics or anti-fungal medication.
If the problems are extremely severe or ongoing, it may be time to visit a veterinary dermatologist for a full assessment.
While allergies in dogs can cause nasty symptoms, they are able to be treated with the help of your vet.