Veterinary Pet Care - Dog Health | Cat Health | Dog Care | Cat Care

Dog Allergies

The chronically itching dog- the most common cause is dog allergies.Effective at home pet care can decrease the severity of allergies, making your dog much more comfortable. They are common problems of pet health in dogs.

SIGNS

The most common sign of dog allergies is itching of the skin, either localized (one area) or generalized (all over the dog). Your dog may have coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be an associated nasal or ocular (eye) discharge. Some dogs have vomiting or diarrhea. The Cause One of the most common conditions affecting dogs is allergy. In the allergic state, the dog's immune system "overreacts" to foreign substances (allergens or antigens) to which it is exposed.

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Inhalant Allergy

The most common type of dog allergies is the inhalant type, or atopy. Dogs may be allergic to all of the same inhaled allergens that affect humans. These include tree pollens (cedar, ash, oak, etc.), grass pollens (especially Bermuda), weed pollens (ragweed, etc.), molds, mildew, and the house dust mite. Many of these allergies occur seasonally, such as ragweed, cedar, and grass pollens. Others are with us all the time, such as molds, mildew, and house dust mites. The dog's reaction usually produces severe, generalized itching. In fact, the most common cause of itching in the dog is atopy (inhalant allergy).

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Most dogs that have inhalant allergy react to several allergens. If the number is small and they are the seasonal type, itching may last for just a few weeks at a time during one or two periods of the year. If the number of allergens is large or they are present year-round, the dog may itch constantly.

Bacterial Allergy

There are many types of Staphylococcus (Staph) bacteria; this is the least common of dog allergies. If the skin is normal and the dog's immune system is normal, Staph causes no problems. However, some dogs develop an allergy to this bacterium. When this happens, the dog develops areas of hair loss that look much like ringworm. They are often round and 1/2 to 2 inches (1-5 cm) in diameter. These same lesions develop in true Staph infection; they are easily treated with certain antibiotics, but the Staph-allergic dog has recurrent "Staph infections." The lesions will usually clear with appropriate antibiotics but return as soon as antibiotics are discontinued. After a while, some dogs become resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Treatment of Staph allergy involves antibiotics to control the immediate problem and desensitization with Staph antigen for long-term relief.

Food Allergy

Dogs are not likely to be born with food allergies. This is the second most prevalent of dog allergies. It often shows up as inflammation of the ears. Dogs develop allergies to food products before 1 year of age or after 5 years of age. The allergy most frequently develops in response to the protein component of the food; for example, beef, pork, chicken, or turkey or dairy products. Food allergy may produce itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress. Testing is done with a special hypoallergenic diet. Because it takes at least eight weeks for all other food products to get out of the system, the dog must eat the special diet exclusively for 8-12 weeks (or more). If the diet is not fed exclusively, it will not be a meaningful test. If any type of table food, treats or vitamins are given, these must be discontinued during the testing period. There may be problems with certain types of chewable heartworm preventative, as well.

Flea Allergy

Flea allergy is relatively common in dogs. A normal dog experiences only minor irritation in response to flea bites, often without any itching. On the other hand, the flea allergic dog has a severe, itch-producing reaction when the flea's saliva is deposited in the skin. Just one bite causes such intense itching that the dog may severely scratch or chew itself, leading to the removal of large amounts of hair. There will often be open sores or scabs on the skin, allowing a secondary bacterial infection to begin. The area most commonly involved is over the rump (just in front of the tail). The most important treatment for flea allergy is to get the dog away from all fleas. Therefore, strict flea control is the backbone of successful treatment. Unfortunately, this is not always possible in warm and humid climates, where a new population of fleas can hatch out every 14-21 days.


SOLUTIONS

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SOOTHE IT TOPICALLY. Calendula ointment is a herbal medication that has been successfully used to relieve the itch. Apply a thin coat twice daily to affected areas.

TO THE BATH. An oatmeal shampoo with cool water will ease the itchiest skin. Leave the shampoo on for 10 minutes then rinse well. With the most severe allergies, bathe your pet twice weekly.




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