May was Pet Allergy Awareness Month! With the arrival of Spring, your dog might be showing signs of having allergies. Coughing, sneezing, and itching will be more prevalent, and it’s essential to address these issues with your pet.
If you are unsure whether your pet is dealing with allergies, this blog will break down how to tell if your pet has allergies and how you can help.
How To Know If Your Pet Has Allergies
You must first understand what the symptoms of allergies look like in our pets. The most common symptoms are itching, licking, and scratching. The itching may be localized to one part of the body or all over their body. Other symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, wheezing, or discharge from the eyes.
Symptoms of food allergies can result in vomiting and diarrhea.
Allergies in pets are extremely common. Regardless of the breed or age, any dog can develop allergies as early as six months.
Allergies can be inherited from your dogs’ parents as well. Allergies to plants and pollens are examples of inherited allergies.
What Types Of Allergies Can My Dog Have?
Like us humans, our dogs can have various allergies, and you need to treat them differently. Here are some different types of allergies your dog may have:
Skin allergies (aka atopic dermatitis) are the most common allergy your dog can have. There are three main reasons your dog may develop skin allergies:
- Fleabites can cause a very irritating allergic reaction. Some pets are allergic to flea saliva. Your dog will become extremely itchy, mainly at the base of their tail. You may notice their skin is red, scabbed, and inflamed from all the itchy. If you see the fleas themselves, that is a clear indication that your dog has a problem that needs immediate attention.
- Specific food allergies can promote itchy skin as well. You will notice your dog scratching their ears and biting at their paws. In addition to itching, your dog may experience gastrointestinal problems as well. Suppose your pup’s bowel movements change in addition to itching. In that case, you have enough evidence to assume that your dog may have a food allergy.
- Environmental allergies can occur seasonally or year-round. Your dog can be allergic to dust, pollen, and mold.
Any skin allergies can put your dog at risk for secondary issues. When skin is broken and exposed, it opens the door for bacteria to enter wounds, causing potential infections.
A food allergy is a food sensitivity or food intolerance most of the time.
Your dog can have mild reactions to some foods or ingredients in their food. Food sensitivity can also result in an immune response. Your dog’s symptoms may range from skin conditions to gastrointestinal issues, or both may be present. In more severe (but rare) cases, your dog could have a severe allergic reaction where anaphylaxis may occur.
Your dog may be sensitive to ingredients, including chicken, eggs, beef, wheat, corn, milk, or soy. Pay close attention to ingredients listed in any food you are thinking of buying for your dog.
How Do You Diagnose Allergies In Pets?
The best way to diagnose and treat a food allergy is to speak with your veterinarian to manage your dog’s symptoms and determine which ingredient is causing the reaction.
Allergy tests can be tricky because other issues unrelated to food intolerances may be causing the symptoms.
You can use two different types of allergy tests to determine if your pet has allergies:
- A blood test can be administered to obtain a sample for submission to a laboratory. The blood will then be analyzed for allergen-specific antibodies and compared against the number of common allergens that contribute to skin allergies or atopic dermatitis.
- Skin tests are also an option for diagnosing whether or not your pet has allergies. The test involves injecting a small amount of a potential allergen into your dog’s skin. Your dog will be strictly monitored during this process and will be put under general anesthesia as well. Your vet or allergist will give different allergen samples in one localized part of the body. If your dog responds “positively” to the allergen, swelling will occur in the skin within about 20 minutes of the injection.
Treatment Options If Your Pet Has Allergies
The best way to treat allergies in your pet is to avoid whatever is causing the allergic reaction. This is a little easier to do if your pet has a food intolerance. Your vet can help provide you with a specialized diet that will continue to give your dog the nutrients they need, all while avoiding the ingredients that cause them to react.
Your vet may prescribe an allergy relief medication to help control any symptoms associated with allergies for environmental allergies.
If your dog has a severe allergic reaction, bring them to an emergency clinic right away.