- Untreated allergies can make your pet miserable.dog image by Michal Tudek from Fotolia.com
An itchy, wheezing, irritable dog might be suffering from allergies. Symptoms include itchy skin, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, nasal or eye discharge, or vomiting and diarrhea. Each of these symptoms could be indicative of a number of allergies. There are five types of allergies that affect dogs: bacterial, contact, flea, food and inhalant. Any one of these, or a combination, could be causing an allergic response in a dog.
- A bacterial allergy often results in hair loss, similar to a case of ringworm. Round lesions, about a half to 2 inches in diameter might appear on the skin.
Dogs naturally carry certain varieties of Staphylococcus bacteria on their skin, but sometimes they can develop an allergy to one of those bacterium. The allergic reaction results and can usually be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.
- Contact allergies are easily identified, because they most often occur where the allergen makes contact with the skin. For example, underneath a flea collar or on the paws of a dog that has walked in floor cleaner. Itching and redness at the point of contact are usually the only symptoms.
To treat this allergy, avoidance of the allergen is best. Remove or replace the object with a pet-friendly alternative. Sometimes there is some trial and error before successfully identifying the object.
- Flea allergies occur only in reaction to flea bites. Usually a dog will experience intense itching all over, a reaction to the fleas' saliva. A dog may scratch, bite or lick the area repeatedly, resulting in skin infections or hot spots and leaving scabs on the skin.
This type of allergy is best treated by killing the fleas and preventing future flea outbreaks.
- A food allergy can develop virtually overnight, causing a reaction to a food the dog has eaten for years without a response. Most often, the allergy is a response to the protein component of the dog's food. Beef, pork, chicken and turkey are often the culprits in food allergies in dogs.
Testing is available from a veterinarian to determine the trigger to a food allergy. Once it is determined, a hypoallergenic diet will most likely be recommended.
- Inhalant allergies can include the same inhaled allergens as humans. Tree, grass or weed pollens, molds, mildew and dust mites can all be responsible. Like humans, dogs with inhalant allergies might experience symptoms seasonally. Instead of sniffling, however, a dog's reaction is usually generalized itching. Inhalant allergies can also cause frequent ear infections in some dogs.
Several treatments are available, including anti-inflammatories or allergy shots. Seek a veterinarian's opinion before starting any treatments for inhalant allergies.