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If you suspect that your dog rolling around in the grass is causing allergic reactions, like excessive belly scratching or rigorous belly licking, you might be surprised to learn that your dog might actually have a food allergy. While a lot of dogs suffer from seasonal allergies to things like pollen, environmental allergens and food allergens can also cause symptoms like hair loss, itchiness, ear infections and skin infections. Your vet will diagnose your dog for fungal infections, skin mites and endocrine diseases, like Cushing’s or hyperthyroidism.Since most of the symptoms of allergies are not unique, treatment might require a bit of trial and error so that you can pinpoint to the exact cause. A vet visit is the first step. Here are a few guidelines for pet owners so that they can form a better understanding of seasonal and food allergies.Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of pet food allergies
A lot of pet owners do not suspect their dog to have a food allergy as it can take years for a dog to develop food hypersensitivity. The location of the skin problems are a very good indicator of food allergies. If there are lesions all over the dog’s body from the flanks and ribs to the knees and hips, then there is a very good chance that your dog has a food allergy. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, recurrent ear infections and itchiness that can lead to self-inflicted trauma like scabs, hair loss or hot spots (areas that have been chewed or licked repeatedly). Some G.I. symptoms are also an indicator of food allergies.Your vet will take a detailed dietary history and suggest eliminating some proteins and substituting them with a novel protein, like fish, duck or kangaroo. Another option consists of putting your pet on a hydrolysate diet (where the protein is pre-digested into pieces too small for the immune system to recognize), or switching him over to a homemade diet of raw or cooked food.Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of seasonal allergies
Some of the most common seasonal allergy causes include dust, pollen, dust mites, grass as well as flea bites. Lesions on the underside or top of your dog’s feet are an indicator of an environmental allergen. The environment and climate also play a big role. For example, in Los Angeles, the weather is warm and things are in bloom all through the year, which can end up exposing your dog to more allergies. However, in a place like New Jersey, things bloom just in the spring and they are gone during the winter.There are many ways to test and treat seasonal allergies. Let us look at a few of them:
- Testing – Intradermal skin test will help in identifying as to which of the allergens is responsible for causing swelling, redness or hives. Your vet will then prescribe an immunotherapy shot or a specialized serum for your dog.
- Fatty acids – Omega-3 supplements can help to reinforce the skin barrier, reduce the inflammation and help all kinds of allergies.
- Antihistamines – It is best to consult with your vet before you give over the counter drugs to your dog. Antihistamines are great, provided your dog has not developed a secondary infection.
- Steroids – If your dog is severely itchy, he might need a steroid to abate it. But bear in mind that it can cause undesirable side effects, like kidney disease and high blood pressure. If you are going to administer steroids to your dog on a long term basis, he will need regular urine and blood tests.
- Flea prevention and control – A lot of dogs tend to have allergic reaction to the saliva of fleas, which can cause red bumps and itchy spots towards the back. Use a flea preventative as directed by the vet. Regularly vacuum all the carpeted surfaces, use a flea comb and wash the bedding with non-toxic, hypoallergenic detergents instead of household cleaners that contain chemicals.