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Canine Allergies

Dogs suffer from as many different allergies as we do. Their allergies include food allergies and environmental allergies such as flea and mite allergic reactions. Many allergies can be treated without medication whereas others may need a lifetime of medication. This guide looks at the different allergies that are commonly found in dogs and what we can do to alleviate them.

Food Allergies

10% of all allergies in dogs are caused by food. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to any type of food. There are some food allergies which are more commonly found in dogs. Symptoms may include an itchy coat, diarrhoea, gas and ear inflammation. Common food allergies include beef, dairy and wheat products. 70% of all canine food allergies are caused by beef. Many dogs find beef difficult to digest. Although dogs may seem to be fine on certain foods to begin with, they build up an intolerance to certain foods. Symptoms of a food allergy include skin irritation with excessive itching, hair loss and hot spots which may occur anywhere on the body. Severe symptoms may include vomiting and diarrhoea. Other symptoms may be more subtle such as weight loss or hyperactivity. These symptoms may build up over time may not be noticed at first. Because symptoms may build up over time it is important to be aware of these symptoms which could be a possible sign of a food allergy. The main way that food allergies are diagnosed is by using an elimination diet. This may take some time and will require the owners to look carefully at the ingredients in the food they are feeding their dogs. Many manufacturers use terms such as meat and animal derivatives to describe the ingredients. This generic term is used to describe protein from any animal. This term also allows manufacturers to use any part of the animal, it maybe the head, the feet or any other part of the body. This term is used so that companies can use the cheapest meat which is available at the time. Therefore foods and treats which have this term should not be used for beef or any other meat allergies. If the elimination diet does not work, there are blood tests which the vet will be able to perform which will help indicate the foods that the dog is allergic to. The vet can then help arrange a suitable diet which can be used to avoid the known allergies. There are a number of hypoallergenic foods available which can be used for dogs with allergies. If the dog does not find these foods palatable it may be necessary to use a home cooked diet using all natural ingredients. Dogs which are allergic to one type of food may become sensitive to others over time. This means if a dog suddenly begins to show signs of an allergic reaction it may not mean they have eaten some of the forbidden food. It may just mean they are developing another allergy.

Flea and Tick Allergies

Flea and tick allergies are much more common in the summer months when the weather begins to get hotter and the fleas begin to breed. Symptoms of a flea or tick allergy include biting and gnawing on the skin, hair loss, inflammation and redness of the skin. These allergies can be treated with a hypoallergenic flea and tick bath. It is vitally important that dogs which have flea and tick allergies are regularly treated with a topical flea and tick medication such as Frontline or Advocat. These should be used all year round to protect the dog. It is important to remember that neither Frontline nor Advocat is entirely water resistant. The medication will become less effective with repeated submersions.


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Hayfever in Dogs

Dogs which have food allergies are also more likely to suffer from other allergies such as hayfever. Symptoms of hayfever in dogs may include itching on the ears, the side, the rectal area or the armpits. The may suffer from reoccurring ear infections and red itchy eyes. Dogs may also suffer from oily or flaky skin. These symptoms are not the same as the symptoms shown by humans. This is because the allergy receptors of a dog are in the skin rather than in the nose and the eyes. Antihistamines and steroids from the vets can help soothe the symptoms but there are also things that you can do at home which can help. After taking the dog outside wipe their feet with a damp cloth to remove any pollen. Keep the windows closed during the hot weather and use a fan or air conditioning instead. The pollen count is at its highest during the hot weather. Vacuuming regularly can help to remove allergens from the carpet. Wash the dog's bed regularly to remove any allergens and consider using a hypoallergenic food.

Mould Allergies

Mould grows in humid conditions or in unventilated bathrooms or kitchens. The spores cause itching and redness on dogs. There are some mould allergies, such as Stachybotros which can be fatal to dogs with allergies to mould. The main way to avoid allergies caused by mould is to keep humidity as low as possible in houses. Keep air conditioning ducts clean to prevent rust build up. Mould, mildew and dust should be cleared up as soon as possible.

Other Animals

It is also possible for dogs to be allergic to other animals as cats. Long haired cats put out more allergens than short haired cats. When a cat cleans themselves the protein which is found in the saliva floats away. The allergen is lightweight and sticks to the walls and the furniture. It can cause itching and causes the dog to bite themselves causing their skin to become red and sore. Bathing the cats regularly is the best way of preventing the allergens. There are also a range of powders available which should be spread on the furniture and carpets before being vacuumed up a few hours later. The allergies mentioned in this article are just a few of the many different ones which are available. If you are concerned about your dog and the possibility of them having an allergy then the vet will be able to run tests and find out which allergies they have. They will also be able to advise on the best course of treatment available.


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