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Dog Allergies – the Facts
What do we need to know about dog allergies? There are three main causes of allergies in dogs (although in some cases dogs get an allergic reaction over another entirely different cause) namely, flea allergy dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and dog food allergies.
Flea allergy dermatitis is said to be the most common one of the three, occurring about 20% of the time. Contrary to popular opinion, this condition is not the result of a battalion of fleas attacking the dog. It can take only one flea bite to trigger it because the dog is not allergic to the flea itself, but to its saliva.
The flea bites the dog and releases saliva to keep the blood from clotting. Flea bites leave little red blotches on the skin, but the dog will start itching like crazy, even biting himself to relieve himself of the itching. The areas infected, usually the tail, head and tummy, will likely show wounds and scars because of this self mutilation.
Finding out if your dog has fleas is pretty easy, a simple run through the fur with the flea comb will tell you if your dog has become home and residence to these infinitesimal parasites. Even though you remove every flea in the dog, he may still itch for around a week because the saliva has already been deposited in his system. Use a preventative flea medication monthly to keep this from happening to your pet.
Dog Allergies – Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is another common reason for dog allergies. It is caused by the dog?s hypersensitivity to airborne particles the dog came in contact with or accidentally inhaled. Common examples of allergens for this condition are house dust mites, mold, pollen, weeds, fabric, etc.
Dogs susceptible to atopic dermatitis will show signs the first two years of his life. He will be seen often scratching and gnawing at his paws, butt and face (hopefully not in that order). Because of constant scratching, he may develop several skin and ear infections. If your dog has light colored fur, some areas of his body will show stains where he often bites because of the itch.
Atopic dermatitis seems to be more prevalent during the late summer and fall months. If this is the case, keep your dog indoors as much as you are able. If he does go outside, wipe him down with a damp cloth when he comes back home to remove dirt and other pollen particles that may trigger allergic reaction. Launder and vacuum upholstery, carpets, curtains, beddings and rugs that collect dust. If it is possible, invest in an air cleaner to improve the quality of air in your house.
Food allergies are not as common as the aforementioned dog allergies, but it is not seasonal so you have to be careful when it comes to your dog?s diet. In many instances, a sensitive dog will acquire new allergies over a course of time. It is a good idea to create at least two diets that he can tolerate, and rotate it every three months throughout the year.
Symptoms of dog food allergies are extreme itchiness, hair loss, sneezing and watery eyes. You will know if the dog has a food allergy if you put him on a hypoallergenic diet and he improves after a week or two. Usually a protein is the culprit of food allergy. When you find out what it is, remove it from your dog?s diet and replace it with another appropriate ingredient.
Other Types of Dog Allergies
Other possible reasons why your dog has allergies is a hypersensitivity to some medicine, other animals and insects. While it is better to keep your dog from coming in contact with these allergens, many times we don?t know that they are allergic to it and when we find out, it?s too late and they are already itching like crazy. You can use Benadryl to provide relief from the effects of the allergies. In more severe cases, you can use an antihistamine to help reduce the itchiness in your dog.
Remember, you should never prescribe a medication or treatment for your dog without consulting the vet. It is critical that you don?t misdiagnose your dog because doing so will lead to more serious health complications. Keep in mind that the symptoms for allergies can actually mean something else. For instance, a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids may cause skin dryness and result in the dog scratching himself often. Antihistamines and allergy medications will NOT be helpful and in many cases, be more detrimental to your dog?s condition.
Go to these links and find out more about dog allergies and how you can prevent them today.