Just like humans, dogs and cats can develop allergies through life which they may not possess when they are born. When a substance in the environment is recognized as harmful to the body's immune system, an allergy is created. The natural elements which cause allergies for humans and dogs are common substances in most environments such as plants, pollen, and bacteria—even dog food itself can bring on a skin allergy. However, unlike most allergic reactions in humans, allergies in dogs can exhibit themselves with much harsher symptoms when the allergen is inhaled, ingested, or physically contacted.
Allergy Symptoms in Dogs
An allergic reaction is the body's way of attempting to excise a harmful substance. This process will manifest itself via the integumentary system, digestive system, and respiratory system. Hair loss, scabs, and crusty spots on the skin can be caused by secondary bacterial infection or yeast infections. All breeds of dog are susceptible to allergies. However, they many have weaker immune systems like terriers, setters, retrievers, pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers which are especially prone to developing allergies. Allergy symptoms exhibited by pets can be varied and include—but is not limited to—the following list:
- Itchy skin/skin irritation or skin allergy (a red color, moist or scabbed, etc.)
- Persistent scratching
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Hair loss
- Goopy and runny eyes
- Flea allergies can cause an itchy backside or tail
- Itching of the ears and infections of the ears
- Persistent sneezing
- Vomiting and inability to keep down food
- Inflammation in the throat can cause snoring
- Persistent licking of certain spots on the body
- Swelling of the paws and chewing
Possible Allergens for Dogs
There are many substances which dogs can form an allergy to throughout their life. These substances can include:
- Chemicals and cleaning products
- Shampoos and hygiene products
- Rubber, plastics, and other synthetic materials
- Natural and synthetic fabrics
- Fleas and flea treatment products
- Tobacco smoke
- Bird feathers
- Dust and dust mites
- Pollen from trees, plants, grass, and weeds
- Mold and mold spores
- Pharmaceutical medications
- Food - such as meats, grains, and nuts
Food allergies can be tricky to pin down given the variety of ingredients in the diet of most dogs. Ear infections, scratching, or itching of the skin are common symptoms of food allergies. Dogs may also have gastrointestinal issues which manifest themselves in vomiting and diarrhea. To determine what food is causing the negative reaction start by eliminating the variance in ingredients. Take a look at the ingredients with which your dog's food is made. If it has a meat substance listed, such as chicken fat or protein, try out a different food which contains no meat ingredient. Continue to eliminate possible foods until your dog stops exhibiting symptoms.
If initial reductive ingredient treatment does not prove successful and you have not already done so, contact your local vet. They will, almost undoubtedly, put your dog on a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet often lasting for twelve weeks. Strict adherence to your dog’s diet regimen is crucial to the successful diagnoses of the problem. At any point, feeding your dog treats, food from the table or kitchen, or outside medications, will undermine the integrity of the treatment. Often, these diets contain ingredients which your dog has not been previously exposed to and which are allergen-free. Sticking to the diet will allow your veterinarian to identify an allergen then slowly reintroduce common ingredients via specialty-made dog food. Sometimes, these diets will require one to make food at home and will be discussed with one's veterinarian or attendant.
Treatment Options and Diagnosis
If you suspect your dog to be suffering from an allergy, contact a local vet in Atlanta or in your local area. Your veterinarian will compile a complete medical history of your dog and will conduct a physical examination. This may be all which is needed for the best veterinarians and pet clinics to determine the cause of your dog's allergy. However, sometimes your vet might recommend getting a skin test or blood test performed in order to identify the cause of the symptoms.
Preventative Home Care
Several preventative measures can be practiced which will reduce the likelihood of your dog developing allergies and suffering from existing allergies. Outside of medical treatment, these habits are beneficial for your dog’s greater well-being, regardless of allergies. These treatments revolve around the removal of environmental allergens as a factor.
- Before the start of each season, start your dog on a flea prevention program or medication. Ask your vet about suitable products and medications available OTC.
- Clean pet bedding of all dust and dander at least once a week. Also, vacuuming at least twice a week including rugs, curtains, and upholstery will reduce dust allergens in the air.
- Every week, give your pup a good soak and scrub. Bathing your dog will help to relieve itching and remove pollens from the skin and coat. Be sure to ask a veterinarian about suitable shampoos and skin care treatments for dogs which are available at local pet stores.
Just as humans must see a specialist if symptoms persist after initial treatment, so must your dog. Specified allergy testing may be recommended and is often performed by a veterinary dermatologist. It is likely they will perform an intradermal skin test to diagnose the allergy, which is the same as with humans.
Atlanta Vet Specialists
If you live in the Atlanta area, contact Pharr Road Animal Hospital in Atlanta for further consultation, diagnosis, and to seek medical treatment options. Included is the address, website link, the contact number, and hours of operation. If you live in the greater United States, seek out veterinary clinics near you for more information and options for treatment.
533 Pharr Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
Hours of Operation
- Sunday: Closed
- Monday: 8am-7pm
- Tuesday: 8am-7pm
- Wednesday: 8am-7pm
- Thursday: 8am-7pm
- Friday: 8am-7pm
- Saturday: 8am-7pm
When bringing your pet to see a veterinarian in Atlanta, be prepared to provide the vet with several pieces of information. First of all, mention the substance ingested, inhaled, or contacted which may be causing symptoms. Secondly, the duration of time which has elapsed between now and when symptoms first presented themselves. Third, the quantity ingested, inhaled, or contacted by the dog. Next, you need to make note of the pet’s age, medical history, and diet. Finally, have a list of the specific symptoms being exhibited by your pet.