Canine Allergies and What to Do About Them
No one likes having allergies. The runny nose, constant sneezing, and general itchiness is enough to make us avoid whatever is causing our bodies to act up. And while that’s not very convenient, imagine how much more disruptive it would be if you had no idea what was causing your reaction.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens to a vast majority of canine allergies. Unless we watch our dogs every second of every day, it’s impossible to keep a tab on everything they come in contact with--and it’s not like they can tell us either. So how exactly are we supposed to deal with canine allergies?
How do canine allergies develop?
The pathogenesis of allergies is more or less the same across different species. It occurs when the immune system recognizes a particular substance as a threat and initiates an overblown inflammatory response to get rid of it. Typically, the allergen is not particularly dangerous, and yet the body reacts to it as if it was public enemy number 1.
The canine allergy is a complex condition that likely involves both genetic and environmental factors. While some breeds appear to be more predisposed to developing allergies than others, any dog can develop a sensitivity reaction--even to something that they weren’t allergic to before. This may make it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what the trigger is.
What are dogs allergic to?
Allergic reactions are usually triggered by something dogs eat or something that touches their skin.
Food allergies are quite common in dogs. Studies have found that this is usually triggered by the glycoprotein component of common protein and carbohydrate sources. Allergies to chicken, beef, lamb, soy, corn, dairy products, and grains have been reported. However, there is always a possibility that other ingredients in dog food could be causing the reaction as well.
Insect bites may also cause sensitivity reactions. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most popular example, but bites from dust mites and bees can also lead to inflammation.
Though less common, it is important not to discount the effect of skin contact with irritating chemical substances such as household cleaners and laundry soap, and exposure to pollens, weed seeds, grass, and tree bark.
What are the symptoms of canine allergies?
The similarities between human and dog hypersensitivity reactions have been noted by scientists. Just like us, they can get dry, bumpy, and severely itchy skin when faced with their allergen. Slightly less common are respiratory signs like coughing and wheezing, and gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and flatulence.
What do I do if my dog is having an allergic reaction?
Rule out other diseases.
A wide variety of medical conditions can look very similar to canine allergies, and yet their treatment and management could not be more different. That’s why it’s important to find out exactly what is happening to your dog before you do anything about it.
A visit with your vet should do the trick. They’ll start off by getting a thorough history, so be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your pooch’s medical conditions, ectoparasite and deworming preventives, food, habits, environment, and behavior.
Whether it’s an allergic reaction or something else, going to a vet means you’ll get the expert advice you need to ease your dog’s discomfort regardless of the cause.
Be observant and keep a record.
Allergic reactions come and go depending on exposure to the allergen. Paying attention to when your dog has an episode can go a long way in figuring out what it is. Try to look for patterns--does it happen after a certain activity? During a certain season? Does it get better when you change their food? Does it get worse when they go to a certain area? Keeping a record, whether on your phone or on a notebook, can help you keep track.
Aside from taking note of your observations, take photographic evidence too. Take pictures of the parts of their skin that are red, swollen, dry, and itchy. Knowing the location of these lesions can help your veterinarian figure out what’s going on. You also have a good record of the severity of an episode, because you can compare it to what happened before.
Consider giving anti-inflammatory supplements.
If you suspect your dog has allergies but a diagnosis hasn’t been made just yet, you can start addressing the symptoms by providing natural pet supplements that can help minimize inflammation. While there are many products on the market, make sure that you only buy those from reputable companies that use veterinary-approved formulations.
One such product is alchemypet’s Dog Immune Booster, a mushroom supplement for dogs that provides potent anti-inflammatory action. Its main ingredient is Agaricus blazei Murill mushroom, which has been used for centuries in traditional human medicine. Dogs and mushrooms may seem like an unlikely pairing, but with Immune Booster, you can harness its many health benefits.