Dog Allergy Remedies
Allergies in dogs are very common health issues; however, they’re rarely simple to address. First, different types of allergies can affect dogs. This means there is a need to identify the cause of your pet’s symptoms so the appropriate treatment can be given. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. There are some allergy cases in which the underlying culprit cannot be established, and the only way to ease the dog’s symptoms and to improve his quality of life is to provide symptomatic treatment. Keep reading to learn about the common treatments used for dogs with allergies.
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Common Types of Allergies in Dogs
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to a particular substance, called an allergen. Allergens abound everywhere - they could be in your pet’s food, in the saliva of fleas and other insects, and your pet’s immediate environment.
1. Flea Allergy
Some dogs are allergic to a substance in the saliva of fleas. A flea bite could send these hypersensitive dogs into an itching, scratching, licking, and chewing frenzy. This can eventually lead to the skin becoming raw, inflamed, and prone to a secondary infection that can be caused by bacteria and/or fungi. Fleas may or may not be found on your pet’s body but if they are indeed present and causing your pet’s distress, you may notice flea dirt - flea poop that contains digested blood.
2. Food Allergies and Sensitivities
When your pet reacts to an allergen in his diet, a range of symptoms can manifest - from itching to hives to vomiting to diarrhea. In some rare cases, anaphylaxis, which is a very severe reaction, can occur.
A food allergy is not the same as food intolerance. When it’s an allergy, the immune system is involved. On the other hand, food intolerance is just a dog’s adverse reaction to something that he has eaten. The reactions, however, are local and do not involve the immune system. Once it’s vomited or eliminated, the problem stops.
3. Environmental Allergies
Most environmental allergies are seasonal. Cases are usually high during certain seasons of the year (spring and/or fall) when the amount of pollen is higher than the rest of the year. For indoor pets, environmental allergies may be year-round. They can be allergic to dust, molds, and other allergens inside the home.
4. Acute Allergic Reactions
Also called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic reactions, acute allergic reactions are the most alarming of all the types of allergies in dogs. Being an acute reaction, it happens right after the dog has been exposed to the allergen. Anaphylaxis can cause hives or facial swelling in hypersensitive dogs. The swelling of the dog’s face, eyelids, lips, or throat may have serious consequences if proper treatment is not given immediately.
The most common causes of anaphylactic reactions in dogs are bee stings and reactions to vaccines. This is an important reason why you should closely monitor your dog after vaccination or when a new food or medication is given. Fortunately, these life-threatening reactions are rare in dogs.
Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
Before focusing on the potential allergens, your vet will take steps to rule out any other underlying health issue that could be responsible for your pet’s symptoms. If non-allergy conditions are not the culprit, your pet’s symptoms will be treated as allergies.
For the appropriate treatment to be given for your dog’s allergy issues, there is a need to identify the allergen trigger. Diagnosis, however, is often complicated. Considering that there are so many potential allergens that may be causing your pet’s symptoms, it will certainly be a long and challenging process to identify the specific allergen(s). Take note, however, that this is not always possible, even with allergy testing.
Among the different types of allergies, flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is generally the easiest to diagnose. It involves examining the dog’s body for fleas and/or flea dirt and applying an anti-flea medication that can kill the fleas before they can bite your pet. Fleas are ubiquitous parasites, but by having a health program that involves year-round flea prevention, your dog will have minimal chances of being bitten by a flea and experiencing a flare-up of allergy symptoms.
For food allergy or food intolerance, the best way to treat the problem is a change in diet that does not contain the offending allergen.
For life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, you should get your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic as quickly as possible.
Even when the specific allergen has been identified, it’s not always possible to prevent your pet’s exposure to it. There may be a need for lifestyle changes for you and your pet. If the allergen remains unknown, your pet may be placed on an allergy relief medication that will help control itching and other symptoms of allergic reactions. Your vet may also prescribe an antibiotic (for bacteria) or antifungal (for yeast or fungi) if there is a secondary infection.
Natural Remedies for Allergies in Dogs
Allergies that are mild or intermittent can sometimes be treated at home. There are natural remedies that have been shown to help alleviate symptoms of allergic reactions and provide relief to affected dogs. Be sure to consult your vet before trying these home remedies. Some skin conditions can be worsened, or wound healing can be delayed without proper treatment.
Colloidal oatmeal baths can help soothe itchy skin by reducing swelling and redness. A bath could also remove the superficial allergens from your pet’s skin and hair. The cool oatmeal mixture is soothing to the dog’s uncomfortable skin. Plus, oatmeal is non-toxic, so there is no need to worry that your dog would lick it off.
Make a paste by mixing baking soda with water (50:50). Apply the paste on the skin rashes. Baking soda can reduce redness, alleviate itching and inflammation, and dry out the rashes. Let the paste dry for 20 minutes before rinsing completely.
Warm Epsom Salt Soaks or Compresses
Fill a bowl, bucket, or bathtub with warm water. Add plain, unscented Epsom salt; mix well to allow all of the salt to dissolve. Have your dog soak in this solution for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can soak a clean washcloth in this solution and apply it to an itchy area or hot spot. Be sure to gently dry the skin after each soak or compress.
Chamomile and Green Tea Soaks
Soothe your pet’s itchy skin by letting him soak in a bathtub that is filled with lukewarm water, where several chamomile and green tea bags have been steeped for 3-5 minutes. Chamomile and green tea possess anti-inflammatory properties. You can also use the tea for spot treatment. Just make sure that the tea has cooled completely before applying it to your pet’s skin.
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