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Diseases - Allergies in dogs
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|Author||Topic: Diseases - Allergies in dogs|
posted 07-29-2003 02:42 AM
Allergies in dogs
If your dog seems to be really itchy, is constantly scratching him or herself, has a rash, or is losing fur, he or she may have allergies. Unlike humans who react to allergens with sneezing, running noses, and sinus symptoms, dogs usually react with skin allergies. In the allergic state, the dog's immune system overreacts to a foreign substance (the allergen or antigen) to which it is exposed. The most common way those ‘overreactions' are manifested is through the skin, and can involve into everything from itchy skin, a red bumpy rash, hot spots, fur loss, and/or a poor coat texture. Dogs themselves may react to an allergen by simple scratching or licking, or more seriously by biting, chewing, or gnawing at their skin merely because they are irritated or uncomfortable.
Contact allergies tend to be the least common, but may be the easiest to diagnose or locate as they involve a local skin reaction to a topical substance. Examples include a reaction to a flea collar, a topical ointment, or to certain bedding or materials (i.e. a wool blanket). Although this is rarely the case, it can happen and through a small amount of detective work the cause can easily be removed and the skin problem disappears.
Those products or substances which can cause allergies in humans are the same as the ones that may cause allergies in dogs. Substances such as dust mites, pollen, mildew and mold may all be the potential culprit that is bothering your dog particularly if he or she is licking or chewing at his paws, under the legs (armpit area), or around the groin area. These irritants may also cause chronic ear infections, so be observant if your dog is shaking his or her head a lot or is rubbing his head on the carpet. If the ears are the real problem, a veterinary prescribed antibiotic ointment may be necessary.
Depending on the climate where you reside, fleas are often one of the most common reason for skin problems in dogs. Fleas most commonly live in more humid areas, where the temperature rarely drops past the freezing mark, but they can be found elsewhere in the warmer months. Not every animal actually reacts to a flea bite, but some dogs do develop a skin reaction from the flea's deposited saliva which includes itchiness, redness, and sometimes a small bumpy rash known as ‘miliary lesions' (because they look like millet seeds). Hotspots may also result from excessive chewing or licking. The rash or fur loss is often found near the base of the back near the tail, but can really pop up anywhere on your dog.
Another possible irritant, may be found within the food you are feeding your dog. If your dog is allergic to food, it is usually just to one of the ingredients in his or her diet. Some of the most common culprits include beef, chicken, pork, milk, eggs, whey, fish, corn, soy, wheat preservatives, and even lamb. Even if your pet has been on the same food all of his life, do not rule out a food allergy because one can develop at any time and over time (and most develop from foods that have already been eaten for a long time).
Treating your pet for an allergy may be as easy as changing his or her diet, or as difficult as needing chronic medication and constant veterinary re-examinations. Sometimes simple cortisone creams or antihistamines may help the skin, but they fail to treat the underlying allergen. In some cases, however, this is the only possible means of help, as irritants such as dust or pollens cannot always be completely eliminated.
Here are some tips for at home when you are living with a dog with allergies:
- allow your dog to sit in a bath filled with Epsom salts
- after discussing this with your vet, try using essential fatty acids, namely omega-3 and omega-6. They have natural anti-inflammatory agents and can be purchased at most pet stores or veterinarians
- try using an air de-humidifier and place activated charcoal around house plants to decrease molds
- use air conditioners rather than open windows
- dust and vacuum often
- treat your pet for fleas, regardless of whether or not you see them
- use a hypoallergenic dog food or create a homemade diet for your pet
- becareful what you are washing your dog's bedding in
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