Dog Allergies Can Become a Real Problem
Humans aren't the only ones who suffer from allergies. Dogs struggle with them just as often as people and even have many of the same triggers.
Common causes of year-round dog allergies include food and contact allergens such as mold, other animals, and even humans. Seasonal allergies typically occur in warmer months and are caused by tree pollens, grasses, and weeds.
Allergens come into contact with the dog’s skin, causing a contact dermatitis. The most common sign of allergies in dogs is extreme itching caused by skin inflammation. Other signs include hair loss, hot spots, and ear infections, while less common signs include watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose.
Basic Allergy Treatments
To alleviate some of this unpleasantness, regular baths using sensitive skin shampoo are suggested, as well as wiping a dog’s paws when he comes in from outside. This acts to physically remove allergens from the dog’s fur and skin.
Relief can also be found by working to remove the allergens from the dog’s indoor environment, which involves dusting, vacuuming, cleaning floors, and laundering dog bedding.
As a dog owner, you may want to try oral medications (antihistamines or steroids) as a treatment option for allergic dogs. One such option, called APOQUEL, has provided relief for some dogs with chronic allergies.
Common Dog Allergy Causes and Symptoms
- Food is the most unlikely cause of a dog’s allergies, but can still be an issue. If a dog does have a food allergy, he or she is most likely to be allergic to proteins in his or her food – usually beef or chicken. Symptoms of food allergies are very similar to seasonal or contact allergies.
- Mold is a more common cause and depends on the climate and atmosphere where a dog lives. If the weather is naturally more humid or indoor pets live in poorly-ventilated homes, the additional moisture can cause mold spores to grow more profusely. Dogs with this allergy will be very itchy.
- Dogs can be allergic to cats as well, especially long-haired males. Cats put out an allergen protein that’s found in their saliva. Whenever cats lick themselves, the saliva dries, flakes off and floats into the air. This allergen causes dogs to itch and is especially frustrating to deal with, as it sticks to walls, furniture, carpet and drapes. It’s very potent and can stay active in a home environment for up to 10 years.
How You Can Help Your Pet
- If food is the issue, your dog's symptoms can often be remedied by switching to a different dog food that contains limited ingredients.
- If mold or humidity is the cause, there are many solutions, such as running the air conditioner regularly, installing and maintaining exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, pouring a couple tablespoons of bleach down drain pipes regularly to kill mold spores, or installing electrostatic furnace filters. Also, be sure to keep bathrooms, mini blinds, bookshelves, ceiling fan paddles, and electronics free of moisture, mold, mildew, and dust.
- If your dog is allergic to cats, the best solution is to bathe your cats as regularly as possible. There are also products available designed to seal the allergen to the cat’s skin. Using HEPA air filters has also been proven to reduce pet dander.
If you're concerned about allergies in your dog, please talk to your veterinarian.
At Delavan Lakes Veterinary Clinic, we're happy to help you figure out the best treatment plan based on the type and severity of the allergy.
Call 262-728-8622 and make an appointment today to begin your pet's journey toward relief.
*Additional reading on APOQUEL.