Allergies And The Labrador Retriever

The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, reliably making the top five list year after year. With their strong working history, high intelligence, lovely temperaments and versatility, it is no wonder that the Labrador is so popular, making for an excellent choice of pet for families from all walks of life, and also, still used widely in working roles as a retriever, and as an assistance dog, among other things.

The Labrador also has a lot going for the in terms of their general health, and the breed tends to be robust and hardy, and not apt to pick up the sniffles or other minor ills on a regular basis. However, like all pedigree breeds, there are certain hereditary health conditions that may potentially affect the Labrador due to a combination of genetic and environmental traits, and one of these is allergies, which in itself is a fairly large catch-all heading.

While the majority of Labradors will not suffer from acute or severe allergies, or any at all, a reasonable amount of dogs of the breed will be sensitive to certain allergenic triggers, reacting badly on occasion to otherwise innocuous substances, which can make life challenging.

In this article, we will look at allergies in the Labrador retriever in more detail, including covering some of the most common allergies that affect the breed. Read on to learn more.

How canine allergies work

Every breed and type of dog can potentially develop an allergy, and what causes this to happen or what the allergenic trigger proves to be for any given dog can vary.

Allergies occur when an otherwise innocuous substance that is not harmful in and of itself generates an inappropriate immune response within the body, causing the body to view the allergen as an attack on the immune system, and sending a histamine response to deal with it. It is the body’s own histamine response that causes the symptoms of the allergy, and which can make your dog miserable, rather than the substance itself. How the allergy is dealt with will then depend on whether or not the allergenic trigger can be identified and removed.

Common canine allergies

Virtually anything that you can think of can prove to be an allergenic trigger for some dogs, but there are several triggers that reliably affect more dogs than most other things. Some of these common triggers include:

  • Allergies to certain ingredients in food.
  • Allergies and sensitivities to fleas.
  • Bacterial allergies.
  • Allergies to mites and other skin parasites.
  • Protein chain allergies.
  • Pollen allergies.
  • Atopic allergies.

Depending on the triggering substance, some of the most common Labrador retriever allergies are covered in more detail below.

Atopic allergies

Atopic allergies are environmental triggers that are inhaled, such as pollen or mould spores. There is very little that can realistically be done to keep your dog away from contact with all of these triggers, and so treatment usually involves using a medication that acts on the immune system of the dog to limit or inhibit the body’s histamine response to the allergenic trigger. This may mean taking a blanket approach, using things like antihistamines, air purifiers and shampoos to remove pollen and other small particles from the coat.

Allergies to food

Food allergies mean an allergy to a certain type of food, ingredient in food or additive such as a preservative or colorant. As many as one in ten Labradors may be allergic to some degree to something in common commercial diets, and so resolving the issue means using trial and error in a process of elimination in order to find the triggering factor, and remove it from the diet. Vigilance may also be needed outside of mealtimes, as Labradors are excellent scavengers!

Flea allergies

Some unlucky dogs prove to be allergic or hypersensitive to flea bites, reacting badly to a protein chain within the saliva of the fleas. This of course means that the best way to stay on top of the problem and prevent allergenic flare-ups is to ensure that your dog is regularly treated for fleas, using a good quality product that has proven to be effective for your own dog.

Ear mites and allergies

As well as the common Labrador allergies mentioned above, Labradors can also be prone to developing ear infections in conjunction with allergies, which will display with symptoms such as foul smelling ears, irritation, and lots of scratching. Ear allergies can be caused by ear mites or other triggers that have a systemic effect on the body of the dog. Ear mites are one of the most common causes of ear problems in the Labrador, and these tiny parasites can be hugely irritating for your dog, causing them to scratch their skin raw.

Learning to identify the signs of ear mites and getting them eradicated as soon as possible is the key to resolving this problem.


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