Have you noticed your canine companion scratching more often or experiencing symptoms like hair loss or hives? These could be signs of allergies, a common issue among dogs that can present in various forms, such as skin and ear infections, as well as itchy and inflamed skin.
Thankfully, there are numerous ways to alleviate your furry friend's allergies, such as seeking professional treatment from your vet, using simple home remedies, or purchasing over-the-counter (OTC) products from your local pet store or pharmacy. In this discussion, I'll cover all of these options.
It's important to note that consulting with your vet before administering any allergy treatment is always recommended, and working together to identify and eliminate the underlying cause of your dog's allergies, if possible, is essential.
Diagnosing Dog Allergies
In dogs, skin allergies are classified into three primary categories by veterinarians. These categories include:
- Flea allergy dermatitis
The most common type of allergic reaction in dogs is caused by flea saliva and is referred to as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Dogs that are allergic to fleas are so itchy that they bite and scratch their own skin, resulting in raw, reddened, and irritated "hot spots" around their neck or at the base of their tail. FAD is so severe that the bite of just one flea can make a dog miserable.
- Environmental allergies, including seasonal allergies
Dogs can experience atopy, a type of environmental allergy that causes seasonal itchiness around their face, paws, and armpits. Dogs with atopy often have recurrent ear infections, and secondary skin infections with yeast and bacteria are common. Typically, atopy is first seen in dogs aged between one to three years old.
- Food allergies
When a dog responds to a food ingredient, typically a protein source, it is considered a food allergy. Dogs with food allergies experience itching around their rump, armpits, groin, face, and between their toes. The most common allergens in dogs are protein-based, such as chicken, beef, pork, egg, soy, and dairy. Food allergies are non-seasonal and can occur instantly after switching food or develop after a longer period of being fed the offending ingredient. It is common for dogs with a food allergy to also have dermatitis and/or atopy.
Symptoms that are associated with allergies in dogs:
- Excessive itchiness demonstrated by increased self-scratching, chewing, licking, and/or rubbing the skin on furniture or carpet
- Red skin
- Hair loss
- Swelling of the face, eyelids, lips, or ears
- Brown stains around the eyes, mouth, and/or paws
- Red bumps or pimples on the skin (skin infection)
- Increased skin odor
- Thickened skin that is darkened (chronic yeast infection)
- Red paws that may be stained brown from excessive licking
- Increased odor, discharge, and itching from ears (ear infection)
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Excessive dandruff
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and excess gas (usually associated with food allergy)
- Sneezing or coughing
Treating Dog Allergies
If you have observed any of the above-mentioned signs of allergies in your dog, there are several ways to address the symptoms, including over-the-counter (OTC) options, do-it-yourself (DIY) remedies, and prescription medications. I will classify the treatments according to the type of allergy, beginning with seasonal allergies (atopy or atopic dermatitis). Don’t forget that it's essential to consult your veterinarian before treating your dog for allergies.
Treating Seasonal Allergies
It's crucial to keep in mind that using an over-the-counter product may not be helpful and could exacerbate the condition if your dog has a skin infection, external parasites, or food allergies. If you don't notice any improvement, consult with your veterinarian. They can provide appropriate treatment to address your dog's specific condition.
It's worth noting that some dogs respond positively to human over-the-counter allergy medication available in drugstores. One of the most commonly used antihistamines for dogs is diphenhydramine, which is the active ingredient in Benadryl. It's generally safe to give most dogs diphenhydramine, as long as it's given orally at a recommended dosage of 1 mg per pound of body weight. For instance, a 25-pound dog would receive 25 mg of diphenhydramine.
However, it's important to note that giving Benadryl to dogs may cause drowsiness in some dogs and make others hyperactive. Moreover, it might not be safe for some dogs, so it's crucial to discuss it with your veterinarian before administering it to your dog.
If diphenhydramine doesn't work for your dog, there are other over-the-counter antihistamines available, including hydroxyzine, loratadine (Claritin), chlorpheniramine, clemastine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine (Zyrtec). You should consult with your veterinarian to determine the best option for your dog and the appropriate dosage to administer.
If you are a pet owner, you are probably familiar with the challenges that come with allergies. From constant scratching and itching to redness and irritation, allergy symptoms can cause significant discomfort for both you and your pet. Fortunately, the Tauro Pro Line Pure Nature Calming Elixir No.3 is an all-natural solution that can help to eliminate allergy symptoms in your furry friend. Made with a blend of natural ingredients such as chamomile, lavender, and peppermint essential oils, this elixir can soothe your pet's skin, and reduce inflammation and itching. So, if you want to help your pet feel more comfortable, the Tauro Pro Line Pure Nature Calming Elixir No.3 is definitely worth a try.
Another option is to wash away the allergens with natural pet care products. After your pet goes outside and rolls in the grass, bathe him with Tauro Pro Line shampoo and conditioner for sensitive skin. Herbal extracts and natural oils in these bathing products will help to reduce itching and dryness. I recommend following my 3-step bathing system for the best results.
Remember to always use natural skin and coat care products to protect your pet’s skin from drying, flaking, and itchiness.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Supplementing a dog's diet with fish oil can be an effective method of reducing seasonal allergies. The beneficial omega-3 fatty acids for dogs with allergies are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are present in fish or krill oil. One of the safest ways is to choose hypoallergenic Nature’s Protection food with Salmon or with White Fish and Krill, which already has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids inside the formula.
Dogs suffering from seasonal allergies may benefit from probiotics. Inflammation and an overly reactive immune system are common causes of allergies, and the gastrointestinal tract is home to the largest immune system in the body, known as the GALT. If the intestines are unhealthy, inflamed, or have an imbalance of gut bacteria, this can contribute to allergies. Supplementing your allergic dog with probiotics may help reduce inflammation and rebalance their gut immune system. It is crucial to avoid using human probiotics as the gut bacteria in humans is different from that of canines. Instead, look for a canine-specific product like Nature's Protection supplemental treats with probiotics to ensure that your furry friend is receiving the proper supplementation.
Dogs with allergies may find relief with the use of quercetin, a natural supplement that works similarly to antihistamines. Quercetin has been shown to reduce inflammation and histamine release related to seasonal allergies in dogs. When used in conjunction with bromelain, it can create a more potent anti-inflammatory effect. It is recommended to look for a supplement that contains both quercetin and bromelain to maximize the benefits. The recommended dosage for dogs is 5 to 10 mg per pound of body weight, given twice daily. For example, a 20-pound dog would take 100 to 200 mg twice daily. It is crucial to avoid supplements that contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Ensure that the product contains only the intended ingredients and no harmful additives. If in doubt, it is always best to consult your veterinary care team for safe supplement recommendations.
While home remedies for dog allergies may offer some relief, there are instances where prescription-strength medications are necessary to stop the itch. Thankfully, veterinarians have access to a variety of products that can be used alone or in conjunction with home remedies to provide the appropriate level of relief for your furry friend. These include prescription topical and oral treatments, as well as allergy shots. It is essential to inform your veterinarian of any over-the-counter or holistic remedies you may have already tried, as they have the potential to interact with prescription medication. By working together with your veterinarian, you can find the best course of action to provide your dog with the relief they need from their allergy symptoms.
In cases where your dog has developed an itchy, red hot spot, a prescription-strength topical treatment that combines a corticosteroid, antifungal, and antibiotic may offer relief. This combination can help reduce inflammation, fight off potential infections, and alleviate the itchiness associated with hot spots. Additionally, topical sprays containing steroids can also be prescribed to treat localized hot spots. It is important to note that prescription medications should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian, as they can have potential side effects and interactions with other medications. Your veterinarian can help determine the best course of treatment to manage your dog's hot spots and reduce their discomfort.
In the past, steroids such as prednisone, prednisolone, triamcinolone, and betamethasone were the only oral prescription medications available to treat dog allergies. Although they were effective in reducing allergy symptoms, they also carried several negative side effects including increased appetite, water consumption, urination, and susceptibility to infections. Steroids are also less effective for food allergies.
While oral and injectable steroids are still prescribed in some cases, there are now new medications available that can effectively alleviate itching without the negative side effects.
In case your dog is unable to handle oral medications, or you prefer not to administer them for an extended period, consult your veterinarian about the possibility of giving allergy injections. These shots, also known as allergy immunotherapy, have two main types: traditional allergy shots formulated after conducting a skin or blood test, and the general prescription option, Cytopoint. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy, while less prevalent, are additional options to consider and discuss with your vet.
Traditional Allergy Shot
To administer the traditional allergy shot, your dog needs to undergo allergy testing either through a blood test or a skin prick test. The latter test is more accurate and is typically performed by veterinary dermatologists. After the test, an allergy serum is created to desensitize your dog over time to the allergens that trigger their symptoms. The allergy serum is then given through a series of injections. Unlike other treatments that aim to control symptoms, allergy shots are the only way to reduce allergy symptoms' occurrences. Allergy shots require regular visits to your local veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist.
An alternative option is Cytopoint, which is administered as an injection and provides relief within one day. It controls allergic itching for four to eight weeks by targeting and neutralizing interleukin 31 (IL-31), a chemical messenger that causes itchiness in dogs. Cytopoint is only available through a veterinarian and has a low incidence of side effects. It could be a good choice if your dog cannot tolerate oral medications, is not responding to them, or has other concurrent conditions that make the use of other allergy medications inappropriate.
Platelet Rich Plasma and Stem Cell Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy, commonly used for treating joint diseases in dogs, have shown promising results in treating seasonal allergies as well. If you're interested in exploring these advanced treatments for your dog, it's best to discuss them with your veterinarian to determine if they are a suitable option.
Treating Flea Allergy Dermatitis
If your dog suffers from flea allergy dermatitis, there are only a few over-the-counter remedies that may be helpful, including:
- Topical skin care products that can be applied directly to the affected areas to soothe and alleviate itching, such as natural Tauro Pro Line grooming products.
- While Omega-3 fatty acids can help promote overall skin health, they are not effective in treating flea allergy dermatitis.
Prescription medications such as prednisone, prednisolone, triamcinolone, and betamethasone can be effective in managing the inflammation and itching associated with flea allergy dermatitis. Animax is a topical medication that combines an antibiotic, an antifungal, and a corticosteroid, and it can be used to treat secondary bacterial and fungal infections that can occur as a result of flea allergy dermatitis. Genesis Spray is another topical medication that can be used to relieve itching and inflammation associated with flea allergy dermatitis. It's important to work with a veterinarian to determine the best treatment plan for your dog's individual needs.
Treating Dog Food Allergies
Although food allergies are less frequent in dogs than environmental or flea allergies, they can still happen. If your dog has year-round allergies or brown tear stains or itchy skin that gets worse after eating specific foods, it may have a food allergy, and you might have to switch to hypoallergenic diet.
In the following paragraphs, I will present the essential ways to treat dog food allergies.
Food Elimination Trial
To diagnose a food allergy, a food elimination trial is necessary. This entails selecting a prescription hypoallergenic diet for your dog with the help of your veterinarian. You will gradually transition your dog to the new food over three to five days, and then feed them only that food for eight to 10 weeks. During this time, your dog must not consume anything else, including treats, table food, flavored medications, chews, and so on. Only hypoallergenic food should be given to the dog.
In order to diagnose a food allergy in your dog, it's important to exclusively provide them with a hypoallergenic diet for a period of 8 to 10 weeks. This period allows for previous allergens to clear out and for the canine epidermis to turn over. By feeding only the hypoallergenic diet, any improvement in the dog's itching suggests a food allergy. At that point, you can either continue with the hypoallergenic food or gradually reintroduce foods to see if the symptoms return. Most pet parents opt to continue with the hypoallergenic diet to prevent the symptoms from returning. My recommendation is to choose Nature’s Protection dry food, which is not only hypoallergenic but also fully balanced for dogs to receive all the essential nutrients and vitamins. To prevent food allergy development I feed my own dogs Nature’s Protection Starter food right after the weaning period, then switch to Junior food, and continue with Adult food.
Hydrolyzed Diets vs. Novel Protein Diets
Hydrolyzed diets are made by breaking down proteins into smaller components that are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Novel protein diets use ingredients that are uncommon in most dog foods, such as kangaroo, bison, or venison, to reduce the likelihood of triggering an allergic response. Both types of diets can be used in food elimination trials to identify potential food allergies in dogs.
Treating the Environment
When dealing with a dog that has allergies, it is essential to address the environment where the dog spends most of their time, particularly if the dog suffers from flea allergies or atopy. This involves implementing measures such as flea control and minimizing exposure to allergens. A combination of various therapies can also be effective in reducing the symptoms of allergies.
Consistent flea control is crucial if your dog suffers from flea allergy dermatitis, as even a single flea bite can trigger severe itching. To manage this condition, it's important to use flea control measures on all the dogs and cats in your household during the flea season. However, it's essential to use flea and tick treatments formulated specifically for each pet and not to give your cat a product formulated for dogs, or vice versa.
Grooming tools, such as combs and brushes, are also an essential component in flea control for pets. Regular grooming helps to remove fleas and flea dirt from the pet’s coat, preventing them from laying eggs and reproducing. Brushing also helps to distribute natural oils in the pet’s coat, making it less hospitable for fleas to take hold. Additionally, regular brushing can help pet owners to detect fleas and flea dirt, allowing them to take prompt action before a full-blown infestation develops. When choosing grooming tools for flea control, it is important to select those that are designed for your pet's specific coat type and to use them regularly as part of your pet's overall flea prevention plan.
Reduce Exposure to Allergens
To minimize your dog's exposure to seasonal allergies, take steps to reduce their contact with allergens. This can involve using a HEPA filter in your furnace, using air purifiers, covering bedding with an allergen barrier, and washing your pet's bedding once a week with a gentle, hypoallergenic laundry detergent during allergy season.
Combination of Therapies
Finding the right treatment for your dog's allergies can be a complex process since each dog is unique, and the cause and severity of their allergies can differ. Effective allergy management often involves a combination of therapies and may require some trial and error. Collaborating with your veterinarian will help determine the best course of action to relieve your dog's itching and address the underlying cause of their allergies.
Dog Allergy FAQs
Q: What are the signs of dog allergy?
A: The signs of dog allergy can vary from mild to severe and may include itchy or red skin, hives, sneezing, coughing, watery or itchy eyes, runny nose, ear infections, gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea, and respiratory problems. In some cases, dogs may also develop chronic conditions such as dermatitis, secondary skin infections, and chronic ear infections. It's important to seek veterinary attention if your dog shows any signs of allergies to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
Q: What are the causes of allergies in dogs?
A: Allergies in dogs can be caused by a variety of allergens, including pollen, dust, mold, dander, flea saliva, insect bites and stings, certain ingredients in their food, and improper skin and coat care products.
Q: What is the most common dog allergy?
A: The most common allergy in dogs is flea allergy dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to flea saliva. However, dogs can also be allergic to other environmental allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, and certain foods.
Q: Can dog allergies go away?
A: Once a dog develops an allergy, it typically doesn’t go away on its own. Treatment is aimed at reducing itching and avoiding the offending allergen as much as possible. The only way to really minimize allergies is by having a dog tested for allergens and then started on a series of allergy shots, where a dog receives a series of injections that contain very small amounts of allergen, thereby desensitizing the dog to the allergen over time and curing the allergic response. Shots won’t cure allergies, but they can greatly enable the body to get used to them. In time, symptoms will get better, and the pet may not have symptoms as often.
Q: Can dog allergies be cured?
A: Allergies in dogs cannot be cured, but they can be managed through a combination of therapies that reduce symptoms and avoid exposure to allergens as much as possible. In some cases, allergy shots can be used to desensitize the dog to the allergen over time, but even with this treatment, symptoms may persist to some degree. Therefore, the best course of action is to work with your veterinarian to develop a management plan that suits your dog's needs and reduces the impact of allergies on their quality of life.
Q: What happens if dog allergies are left untreated?
A: If left untreated, dog allergies can lead to more severe and persistent symptoms, and may even cause secondary infections or complications. Persistent itching can lead to skin infections and hair loss, which can be uncomfortable and painful for the dog. In addition, untreated allergies can weaken the dog's immune system, making them more susceptible to other health problems. Allergies may also cause discomfort and distress for the dog, affecting their overall quality of life. Therefore, it is important to identify and treat allergies in dogs as soon as possible to prevent these negative consequences.
Q: Can dog allergies cause digestive symptoms?
A: Yes, dog allergies can cause digestive symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive gas. When a dog ingests something they are allergic to, it can cause an allergic reaction that affects the digestive system in addition to the skin, resulting in both skin and digestive symptoms. However, it's important to note that not all dogs with allergies will experience digestive symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary depending on the dog and the allergen.
Q: Can dog allergies cause diarrhea or coughing?
A: In some cases, dog allergies can affect the digestive and respiratory systems, resulting in symptoms such as diarrhea or coughing. Allergies can cause skin signs, and if a dog eats something they are allergic to, this can cause digestive signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive gas. In addition, some dogs may experience respiratory symptoms such as coughing or wheezing if they are allergic to airborne allergens like pollen or dust. It is important to consult a veterinarian if a dog is exhibiting any symptoms of allergies to determine the underlying cause and the appropriate course of treatment.
Q: Is Benadryl safe for dogs?
A: Yes, Benadryl is safe for dogs to take, but it should only be given under the guidance of a veterinarian. The standard dosage is 1 milligram per pound of body weight, but not all dogs can tolerate Benadryl and it can interact with other medications.
Q: Can dogs take Claritin?
A: Yes, dogs can take Claritin, but only under the supervision of a veterinarian. The typical dosage is 0.1 to 0.5 milligrams per pound of body weight, and the drug can interact with other medications.
Q: What is the difference between Benadryl and Claritin?
A: The main difference between Benadryl and Claritin is their active ingredients. Benadryl contains diphenhydramine, while Claritin contains loratadine.
Q: Can dogs take Pepto-Bismol?
A: Pepto-Bismol is generally safe for dogs to take, but only under the guidance of a veterinarian. The medication can cause gastric bleeding and turn stools black in some cases.
Q: Can dogs take Zyrtec?
A: Yes, dogs can take Zyrtec, but only under the guidance of a veterinarian. The typical dosage is 0.5 milligrams per pound of body weight, and the drug can interact with other medications. Dogs should not be given Zyrtec-D, which contains pseudoephedrine.
As a pet owner, there are no questions that are considered unintelligent when it comes to your pet's well-being. If you have concerns about your pet's health, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian right away. When it comes to health inquiries, it is best to consult with your regular veterinarian as they are most qualified to provide you with the best advice for your pet.
Breeding dogs for more than 35 years brought me to my mission – to understand and create the best products for pets. I’m ready to share my long-tested and thoroughly created pet care system with you!
- Janita J. Plunge
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