If you have ever been allergic to anything, you know how difficult it can be to deal with. Our dogs can similarly be afflicted by a variety of allergies. Dogs can get allergic reactions to a variety of environmental substances. Usually, if a dog scratches and fidgets habitually, it will become more prone to developing an allergic reaction.
Much like humans, dogs experience contact allergies, food allergies and environmental allergies. The symptoms of these allergies are also varied and depend completely on the type of allergy that the dog is suffering from. The symptoms of allergy in your dog can range from mildly unpleasant to extremely unpleasant. Depending on the substances involved, the dog may also have a grave and life threatening reaction - it can be that serious.
It is natural to be concerned if your pet is suffering from an allergic condition. Since a dog is dependant on its owner completely, it often falls on the pet owner to get the best medical help for the dog. Most people rush to their veterinarian as soon as they realize that there is something amiss with their pet. However, there are also those who are unable to observe the signs of distress in a puppy or older dog.
Allergies in dogs are a common ailment. Since allergens can be found in the environment as well as most public places, dogs can easily be exposed to them.
When a dog experiences contact dermatitis or contact allergy, the lesions and the allergic reactions are localized on certain places on the skin. If the allergic reaction is severe, there may be loss of fur in patches and the skin may become reddened. Allergies caused due to chemicals and flea bites can also have similar symptoms.
Food allergies are extremely severe and may cause inflammation of skin, nausea, vomiting, unconsciousness and even death. Dogs that have a food allergy may not even have any observable symptoms until their condition begins to take a turn for the worse.
Inhalant allergies may cause sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes - symptoms which are similar to those experienced by humans in similar circumstances.
Some veterinary doctors also give fatty acids supplements along with steroids and anti histamines. However, this kind of a treatment is non specific and may only treat the symptoms of the allergy, without treating the allergy itself.
In the case of contact allergy, if the allergen is removed from the proximity of the dog, the allergy usually disappears. Similarly, with bacterial and flea allergies, dogs can be given topical treatments and medicated baths to get rid of the pests and the pathogens. There are a lot of dogs which are benefited by bathing frequently with a medicated shampoo. Since most allergens are absorbed into the body through the skin, it is best to make sure that the dog is as clean as possible.
Allergy shots, also known as hypo sensitization, are also a popular way of treating allergies these days. To treat specific allergic reactions, small amounts of antigens can be injected into the body of a dog, thus reprogramming the immune system of the dog's body. However, in order for this treatment to be even mildly successful, it is first important to identify the specific allergens to which your dog reacts.
Itching may completely resolve in most dogs, after being given the hypo sensitization therapy for a few days. For other dogs, this may be a lengthier process and proper follow up and persistence may be required. However, this kind of treatment is not successful with food allergies and allergies in which the cause has not yet been identified.
Hypo sensitization is an effective method of treating allergies. However, it may not always be the best method of treatment, since there is considerable amount of cost involved. Some dogs may require this treatment for many months or years, making this treatment burdensome for the pet owner. The age of the dog is also a crucial factor in determining whether this is the best way to deal with the allergy of the dog. As dogs grow older, they get more allergies and therefore dogs may be retested every 2-3 years, as they grow older.
The success rate of the hypo sensitization treatment is not always great, since only about 50% of the dogs respond to the treatment well. Of the rest, 25% show no change in their symptoms while 25% show a partial improvement. The time of response of the hypo sensitization treatment is also varied. It may take 2-5 months for an average dog to respond to the treatment. However, there are some dogs which may require the treatment for about a year before they show even the slightest improvement.
For food allergies, the most important thing is to identify the allergen first. This can be an extremely tedious task. For about 8-12 weeks, a dog is subjected to elimination diet trials in which the dog is fed different food materials, some of which may cause allergic reactions as well. The purpose of this elimination diet trial is to create a hypoallergenic diet which does not consist of any single ingredient which could cause an allergic reaction to the dog.
In order to treat any kind of allergy, it is important to first identify the real cause of it. Since the symptoms of various allergies are also similar, testing for various different allergies can help veterinary doctors understand the cause of such conditions. Once the cause of the allergy is identified, the veterinarian can finally make an informed diagnosis and use a treatment method best suited to your individual dog.
Though there are various treatments available for dog allergies, these are chosen on the basis of cost, age and the time of response. Different dogs respond to treatments differently. Some dogs may be given a combination of treatments in order to improve their condition.
Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.