If you are asking yourself, “What can I give my dog for allergies?” then it means that your doggy is suffering from some sort of allergy. Before you start worrying too much or panic, you must know that dog allergies are as common as human allergies. Alike humans, dogs develop allergic reactions because their immune system has an overreaction on contact with certain allergens.
Almost any particle that is foreign to a pup’s body such as pollen, dust or something from its food, as well as a chemical substance or an insect bite, can trigger a reaction of the dog’s immune system. This reaction causes the release of white blood cells, hormones and other substances such as histamines (responsible for inflammations) in the pup’s bloodstream, which, in turn, triggers hypersensitivity or allergy.
Allergies are chronic problems that cannot be healed for good. A dog with an allergic reaction will keep having symptoms for the rest of its life. The best solution is for the allergic pooch to be kept away from that allergen. However, there are other treatments and vaccines that can be recommended by an experienced veterinarian.
Types of allergies in dogs
There are 4 categories of allergies that can occur in dogs, as it follows:
- Contact allergies. These are the most common types of allergies that a dog can be the victim of. They occur when the pup’s skin comes in direct contact with an allergen.
For example, the chemical substances from random anti-parasitic collars can cause such problems. The pooch’s skin starts looking irritated.Also, it can thicken or become discolored. Eventually, it can emanate a strong smell and the fur might fall off from the affected area. In this case, the affected dog will feel itchy and start scratching all over. These types of allergies can be diagnosed fairly easy thanks to the demarcated area from the puppy’s body. Thus, the allergen can be removed and replaced with an allergen-free one.
- Food allergies. Most dogs are not born with food allergies, but they can develop them in time. These represent reactions to one or more ingredients from special dog food or even cooked food.
The most common food allergens are found in beef and chicken products, milk, eggs and cereals such as wheat, corn and soybeans.The exact cause that triggers the allergy is not known. The most probable guess is that a modification from a pup’s immune system determines the perception of certain ingredients as foreign, thus initiating an inflammatory response meant to fight it. This type of allergy can have a series of clinical manifestations, including itching or scratching, digestive issues such as diarrhea and shortness of breath.
In addition, external otitis and skin problems often occur in case of food hypersensitivity. Regardless of the dog’s age, these symptoms can appear randomly. In order to diagnose such affection, the dog’s diet must be changed with a hypoallergenic one for 8 to 12 weeks. If the symptoms start getting less severe or disappear, the case is considered closed.
- Allergies to fleas. This is also a common allergy in dogs. Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin problem caused by an allergic reaction to a flea’s salivary protein. One single flea bite can cause intense itching to a dog for more than 5 days. Dogs that were bitten might scratch hard and end up harming themselves and developing skin infections. In such situation, the establishment of a possible diagnose is based on clinical signs and physical examination too.
Among the physical signs one can count skin inflammation and skin infection, scratched skin and the presence of fleas and flea feces on the pup’s skin that look like small black dots. Scabies and lice do the same damage, so a specialist must look into it.
The best way to prevent such allergy is to use products meant to keep the fleas away such as Advantix or Frontline.
However, the vet should recommend a certain product that is most efficient for your pup. If you choose a product that is too strong, then you can intoxicate your pooch. This intoxication might have severe consequences. The prescription for flea infestation consists of corticosteroids, antihistamines and essential fatty acids that reduce the irritation. Also, bathing an infested dog using special shampoos can help.
- Atopic allergies. Atopy is a genetic tendency towards the development of allergies present in some dogs. The allergens list contains pollen, dust, mites, mold and microscopic debris that generate breathing problems, eczemas and sometimes anaphylactic shock.
One of the symptoms that appear in this case is scratching.A dog that scratches its face, legs, chest and tummy might have an allergy. Depending on the cause, this type of allergy can be seasonal or it can last throughout the year. Intense scratching may lead to chronic irritation and hair loss.
If you’d like to learn more about the symptoms and treatments available, please read our article on dog allergy treatment so that your dog won’t suffer with itchy skin or an upset tummy.
Medication and treatment for dog allergies
Based on these 4 types of allergies, you can identify the one that is causing a dog to scratch a lot and determine what you can give a dog for allergies.
However, although you might be able to identify the type of allergy your pup suffers from and treat it accordingly, you should not skip over the confirmation of a vet.
As it follows, there are 4 categories of therapies used to treat dog allergies.
- Corticosteroids. The corticosteroids are substances that have the effect of suppressing the immune system of a doggy and thus leading to less severe allergic reactions. The treatment with corticosteroids can help a dog immediately, when the vet cannot determine the exact cause of its allergy.
The downside of this treatment is that it causes the occurrence of adverse reactions such as increased appetite, thirst, frequent urination and, ultimately, weight gain. Each organ is in danger if this treatment is prolonged. The corticosteroids are usually prescribed for a short period of time, until the test results are ready.
- Immunotherapy. This is one of the safest ways to treat allergies because it has only one disadvantage, which is that it requires a long time of administration. A dog with an allergy is vaccinated weekly with small amounts of the substance it is allergic to.
Thus, its immune system is gradually becoming less sensitive to that allergen.With time, its immune system will not have a negative reaction to that allergen anymore. This therapy starts working after 6 to 12 months after the first administration and it does not protect a pet from the occurrence of future allergies to other allergens. No medication can.
- Antihistamines. The antihistamines are drugs that are often used by people too, not only for dogs. They block the release of the mediators that sustain the occurrence of an inflammation, which are called histamines. By administering them, the inflammation and the itching sensation are radically reduced. Using antihistamines is relatively safe. However, they might make your pup feel very sleepy and tired all the time during the treatment.
- Local treatments. There are a series of soothing shampoos that contain Epsom salts and oatmeal, as well as ointments and sprays that help a doggy feel more comfortable. You should ask a veterinarian about these and have him/her recommend a certain product that best fits the needs of your sick pooch. We have a great article you should read on the best doggy shampoos for the treatment of allergies.
Choosing a product by yourself is not inspired because it can aggravate your doggy’s allergy symptoms. It takes only one bad ingredient to ruin all your good intentions and make your pup’s condition worse than it was in the first place.
If you’re interested in more natural options, we have a great article on natural home remedies for your dog’s allergies.
In conclusion, patience and perseverance are really important in case your dog develops any kind of allergy. As shown above, the available treatments for allergies do not have an immediate effect and they are definitely not curing your dog for life or preventing it from having an allergic reaction ever again.
Therefore, the reoccurrence of any type of allergy is possible. So, it would be ideal to identify the causes and the best treatment for your canine friend’s allergy and do what it needs to be done when the symptoms come back. Observing and knowing when your pup is about to have an allergy is important because you can ease its discomfort by starting to treat it early.
Of course, you can also learn how to avoid these nasty allergens and keep your pooch happy and allergy-free for the rest of its life. However, such factors are hard to control, so keep yourself informed and spoil your dog with the best there is.
Remember to also clean the areas of your house where your dog spends time, not to only wash it and leave its bedding, toys or favorite blanket for later. If you let your dog stay in bed or on the couch, you must also disinfect or wash these two furniture pieces because they might be infected or filled with allergens that are bad for your lovely canine friend.