Spring has sprung, and pollen is in the air. Not only does this pesky substance affect you and your family members, but it also impacts your precious pup. Dogs experience allergies much like humans, but their symptoms can be more irritating, especially when they can’t express it verbally. However, noticing differences in his appearance and behavior can help you identify that dog allergies are plaguing your pet. Specific remedies, health supplements, lifestyle adjustments and talks with your veterinarian can help you control his allergies.
What Are Dog Allergies?
An allergy is your dog’s way of defending itself against a perceived threat or allergen. An allergen can be anything ranging from a protein in food to dust or pollen in the air. Many professionals call the immune system’s reaction unnecessary or an overreaction since some allergens are not actually harmful to your pup. When an allergen enters the body, your immune system goes into defense mode and sends out a signal to your mast cells to release the chemicals, histamines. Histamines attempt to rid your pet’s body of allergens through common symptoms like runny eyes, sneezing and itching. These chemical compounds increase blood flow to the area surrounding the allergen which causes inflammation. From there, the rest of the immune response is carried out to resolve the issue.
What are the Symptoms of Dog Allergies?
Every dog reacts to allergens differently, but itching is a common indicator of irritation related to all forms of allergies. However, your dog may display a range of symptoms:
- Red and Inflamed Skin
- Itchy Ears
- Ear Infections
- Runny Eyes
- Constant licking
If you notice paw licking, facial rubbing or butt scooting from your pet, he’s attempting to push the histamines out of his body through his extremities. Excessive scratching, biting and licking causes your pet’s skin to form lesions known as “hot spots.” These open sores leave your pet more susceptible to secondary yeast and bacterial infections, making addressing his allergies extremely important.
What Causes My Dog's Allergies?
Typically, dogs experience allergic reactions from three common stimuli:
- Flea or Insect Allergies – Perhaps the most common cause of dog allergies, flea saliva, can make your pet uncomfortable. Your pup will likely experience severe localized itching in the spot of their bite. Some itching may occur at the end of the tail as well.
- Environmental or Inhalant Allergies – When inhaled, dust, pollen, grass and certain plants can cause a reaction in your pet. Usually, itching occurs in the paws, wrists, ears, ankles, muzzle, groin, underarms, and around the eyes.
- Food Allergies or Sensitivities – Dog food allergies are often confused with sensitivities or intolerance to a particular food. Think of the difference between lactose intolerance and peanut allergies. If your pup is allergic to a specific food – which is much rarer – he will have hives, swelling, and itching and potential vomiting or diarrhea. On the other hand, sensitivities do not cause an immune response, so your dog may feel itchy without swelling, have poor quality skin and coat and experience vomiting and diarrhea.
How Do I Diagnose My Pet's Allergies?
If your pet experiences recurring allergies, be sure to see a veterinarian. He will rule out any health issues with similar symptoms before diagnosing your pet