All You Need to Know About Canine Allergies


Image Credit - are the possible causes of an allergy?

Whether we are dealing with pets or people, the culprit behind an allergy is an overactive and over-functional immune system. The immune system is basically designed to protect the body, but it often tends to mistake non-harmful substances as potential threats, which can cause severe all ergic reactions. For instance, if your dog comes across ragweed or rye grass, and its immune systems sees it as a potential threat, it can lead to an allergic reaction.

Are certain breeds more vulnerable than others?

In practice, vets come across atopy (skin disease due to allergens in the environment) more commonly in German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. According to a study published in the journal โ€œVeterinary Dermatologyโ€ in the year 2010, breed susceptibility varies wildly among different geographic locations.

How can you tell if your dog has allergies? What are the symptoms?

Itching (pruritus) is the most commonly observed symptom of allergies. Dogs exhibit it by either chewing or licking their skin or scratching themselves with their feet. The most commonly affected areas are the ears, face, belly, feet and the armpits.

What things are dogs commonly allergic to?

The most prevalent environmental allergens include fleas, molds, dust mites, and pollens from trees, grasses, flowers and weeds. Dogs also have food intolerance or food allergies to certain ingredients like chicken, beef, soy and fish.

How can they be treated?

It is crucial to keep two things in mind. Atopy is manageable but cannot be cured, and it is vital to schedule re-checks to assess the response and modify the treatments. Here are some of the treatment options:

  • Corticosteroids (triamcinolone, prednisone) โ€“ This is very effective in dogs that suffer from atopy. Methylprednisolone injections are usually long-lasting and should be used with caution. Using them continuously is not recommended.
  • Antihistamines โ€“ These can help in certain cases, but histamine is just one of the chemicals that cause itchiness. Your vet will generally use these drugs along with corticosteroids.
  • Cyclosporine โ€“ This is effective in most of the cases and tends to have fewer side-effects when compared to corticosteroids. However, they can upset your dog's stomach initially and it is slightly more expensive when compared to other medications.
  • Allergy vaccine โ€“ They can help in reducing the symptoms in dogs over a period of time. It can vary anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.
  • Antimicrobial therapy (topical spray) โ€“ Vetericyn is an effective and safe topical antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-yeast spray.
  • Rinses, shampoos, conditioners โ€“ Hypoallergenic products serve to remove the allergens from your dog's hair and skin, rehydrate and condition the skin, reduce its flakiness, and decrease itching and inflammation. Ideally, they should be soap-free, easy to use and contain an anti-itching ingredient.
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