A reasonable proportion of the UK’s dog population suffer from allergies of one type or another, and the two most common groups of allergies in dogs are food allergies and skin or dermatological allergies respectively. Getting to the bottom of exactly what triggers allergies in any given dog can be very tricky, even if you can narrow down the culprits to their group-such as contact allergies for skin, food ingredients and so on-and yet identifying triggering substances is vital to resolving or managing the condition.
When it comes to dermatological allergies-problems like contact dermatitis and other issues that are triggered by direct contact with an allergenic substance that causes a localised or systemic skin reaction-getting to the bottom of the problem can be particularly challenging.
This is because one of the main methods by which allergens is identified is by removing potential triggers from the environment and then gradually reintroducing them one by one and watching for a reaction. However, while you can control what your dog eats with great precision if necessary, you cannot always keep your dog from coming into contact with substances and compounds that trigger skin allergies, and you may not even know if this has occurred.
If your dog suffers from allergies that are triggered by contact with the skin and coat and you are having problems getting to the root of the issue and eradicating or managing it, you may have to start thinking a little more creatively.
This means thinking outside of the box and casting an eye over some of the seemingly innocuous and commonly found things in and around your home that could play a part in your dog’s allergy flare-ups, and one of the things to consider is your carpet!
Not only may the material that your carpet is made of be a potential irritant for sensitive dogs, but it can also trap and harbour a wide range of other substances that can trigger skin allergies in dogs that are prone to them-and this is what we will look at in this article.
Read on to learn more about the various ways in which your carpet can play a part in your dog’s allergies.
Carpets can be made of all manner of different materials, with older carpets potentially being made of natural fibres like wool, but more modern carpets being made almost exclusively of synthetic fibres such as polyester or nylon.
Any material that you can imagine can potentially be an allergenic trigger for a certain dog or person, and while you might think that natural fibres are a much safer choice for those prone to allergies, the opposite is often the case. Natural fibres such as wool are much more likely to cause allergies in dogs (and people) who are sensitive to it than synthetic fibres-and so the actual fabric that your carpet is made of may be an allergenic trigger in itself.
Many modern carpets come coated with a protective chemical designed to repel dirt and help the carpet to retain its condition and appearance, extending its life and making it easier to clean. Products like Scotchguard and Stainmaster may either be used to treat the carpet during manufacture before they are sold, and products of this type can also be bought aftermarket to allow you to treat your own carpet at home.
However, such substances may cause allergies in a small number of dogs, particularly if your dog spends a lot of time lying on the carpet. Additionally, if your dog’s skin allergies seem to cause the most irritation between the toes and around the paws, this could potentially be due to the amount of contact that your dog’s feet have with the surface itself.
Over time, carpets do of course become dirty and grimy, particularly in the areas where they are walked upon the most. This means that occasionally, they will need thorough cleaning with a carpet shampoo machine or a chemical cleaner, all of which may potentially cause a reaction in sensitive dogs.
Products that you can use with your vacuum or put in your vacuum to deodorise the carpet, such as scented powders that you spread around and hoover up are also potential triggers for dogs with skin allergies.
Over the life of your carpet, it will pick up a lot of dirt that is tracked in from outside, as well as of course normal household dust and dander, including shed skin cells from humans, your dog, and any other animals in your home too. If your dog’s allergies are triggered by substances of these types, your carpet may be worsening your dog’s allergies or even triggering them if you take special care to keep the home in general clear of such substances as much as possible.
Finally, flea eggs can and will lie dormant in carpets for a long time-years in some cases-until the environmental conditions are just right for them to hatch. They can of course also play host to adult fleas, which is why you should treat your whole home for fleas occasionally as well as treating your dog directly.
Dogs that are allergic to flea bites-a condition known as flea bite sensitivity-may then suffer as a result.