Dog skin allergies
Just like human beings, dogs also suffer from allergies. While allergic reactions in humans are characterized by coughing, sneezing or having a runny nose, allergies in dogs usually affect their skin. Dog skin allergies are very similar in reaction to human allergies. Typically, a dog with a skin allergy will keep scratching and licking. Dogs tend to scratch the same part of their skin repeatedly. This may lead to hair loss and ‘hot spots’ on a dog.
Dog skin allergies are often the cause of not just the hair loss but also red spots that usually make them to lick. Constant licking can cause even further reddening and irritation of the ‘hot spot’. And dogs have a different immune system to that of human beings, so when they are allergic to something their skin is the first to be affected.
Causes of dog skin allergies
Often skin allergies in dogs are characterized by licking and scratching. When a dog owner notices this, he/she will take the pet to a veterinarian. Basically, there are four kinds of allergies in dogs:
Allergic reactions caused by biting insects such as fleas, etc (flea allergy dermatitis)
Allergic reactions caused by inhaled allergens namely, dust mites, molds, grasses, weed and tree pollens (canine atopy)
Allergies brought about by foods and even drugs (food allergies)
Allergies brought about by irritants that come into direct contact with dog skin (contact allergies)
Symptoms of dog skin allergies
A dog that has allergies will usually display a wide variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be subtle while others are more obvious. Here are some of the typical symptoms of the allergies:
Eye (ocular) discharge
Swelling of the paws or face
Biting at the legs or paws
Flaky, dry skin
Swollen, red skin
Discoloration and bumps on the surface of the skin
Additionally, dogs with acute skin allergies are prone to displaying general symptoms of discomfort and distress including salivation, panting, restlessness, lethargy, whining, and refusal to either eat or drink.
Treatments for dog skin allergies
Dog skin allergies brought about by biting flies, fleas, and mosquitoes are easy to treat with many of the over-the-counter medications applied topically. There are also liquid applications that can be used along the spine of a dog as well as chewable tablets or pills that can prevent allergic reactions caused by insects.
Food and drug allergies in dogs are often hard to establish. In such cases, a dog can be tested for allergies but at a considerable cost. Sometimes a vet can recommend a strict diet on a dog to determine whether the allergy is caused by food. Similarly, a dog can also be tested for allergies caused by inhaling allergens found in molds, grasses, and pollens.
Contact dog skin allergies are treatable but are normally the most difficult to determine as the dog has to get into direct contact with an irritant. But once the allergy is identified, one should try to keep the dog as far as possible from the irritating substance. However, in case the allergy-causing substance is not identified, one should always keep an eye on their dog closely so that it doesn’t develop contact allergies.
Dogs that have food allergies do not require any treatment as owners only need to make sure that their diet doesn’t include foods that can cause allergies. Sensitive dogs could do well with diets such as duck kibble formulas or potato.
In cases where one cannot control their dog’s exposure to allergens, for example a seasonal allergy, they can use anti-histamine medications to relieve allergy symptoms. Dog skin allergies also cause secondary infection as result of biting and itching at the skin. However, the infection can be effectively treated by antibiotics. Secondary infection frequently occurs in the paws as well as paw pads. Dogs with allergies commonly bite and chew at the feet causing foot injuries. Such injuries are especially hard to heal without proper paw care and use of oral antibiotics.
Allergies can also affect dogs just as they do in human beings. But dogs have a way of reacting to allergies that is different from humans; their allergies start on the skin. And many dogs usually do not display any signs of dog skin allergies. But if you own a dog and see that it’s scratching or licking excessively, you should take it to a vet to have it examined so that you know the reason. And remember that treatment for allergies in dogs varies depending on the type of allergy that a dog has. In any case, one must take steps to treat their dog immediately it develops allergic reactions.