So many children and adults have allergies these days; food allergies and environmental allergies alike. It seems like the busier our lives get the more quick prep and fast-foods we tend to eat and the more preservatives we all consume. Is this true of our pet’s food as well? What makes a dog have allergies?
Allergic reactions, in humans or canines are triggered by various molecules called “allergens”; proteins tend to be a big contributor to this cause. Many of us tend to purchase dogs that are claimed to be hypoallergenic but no dog is truly hypoallergenic since all dogs have allergens in their skin, saliva and urine.
Dogs on the other hand, depending on the type of allergy, can exhibit different symptom such as watery eyes and sneezing, but the most common reaction is scratching. If a dog constantly scratches, they could contract infections from the welts that they develop even open sores and a loss of hair or fur. A common reaction in Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers is ear infections; symptoms include the dog scratching at his ears, waxy ear seepage and the dog crying as he or she paws at the ears. A Wheaten also chews at its feet due to allergies with pollen and rubs against walls.
Allergies may drive a dog somewhat crazy when they are younger, but unfortunately the allergies can worsen as the dog gets older. There are several types of allergies that can affect your dog; from airborne particles termed atopy to common allergy types to flea allergy dermatitis and food allergies to contact allergies. Dogs have several types of allergies, just like people do.
· Atopy can be seasonal and is the typical type of allergy to affect your animal. The common causes include pollens, molds and dust mites. A dog will most likely present with the following:
o Rubbing their face; loss of hair or fur due to excessive scratching around eyes or muzzle
o Chewing their feet; odorous; red and inflamed
o Continuous chewing or licking their flank and groin
o Red, inflamed ears, odorous and/or recurring ear infections
o Recurring hot spots
o Possible asthma-like wheezing and/or respiratory infections (more likely to occur in cats but in few cases can occur in dogs.
· Contact Dermatitis is less common but includes allergies to cleaners, carpets or plastics. Dog presents with:
o Itchy red bumps/blisters on sparsely-haired areas like the dogs belly, feet or muzzle
o Intensive scratching
o If chronic condition, your pet can lose their hair
· Food Allergies occur in approximately 10-15% of all allergies in canines (and even in cats). Many times they display concurrently with environmental allergies to things like pollen and dust. In food allergy conditions, your pet may present with the following:
o Itchiness to face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal areas
o Yeast-related ear issues
o Infections on the dog’s skin that will respect to antibiotics but reoccur once prescription runs out
o Increased bowel movements and/or soft stool
· Severe allergic reactions are less common. In cases of severe allergies, your dog may present with:
o Hives (urticaria)
o Facial swelling (angioedema)
o Anaphylaxis is a rare and life-threatening, immediate reaction to food or drugs that have been ingested or injected. It can result in shock, respiratory/cardiac failure and possibly death. An anaphylactic reaction occurs within the first 20 minutes and can extend to food, drugs, chemical and even insect bites/stings. Your vet may prescribe epinephrine (an epi-pen) and you will have to know how and when to inject your dog with this particular drug.
Just as it is quite difficult to witness allergic reactions in your family members, it can be even more excruciating to witness the affects in your dog. Allergies are miserable. Make certain that you seek the advice from your vet to determine the severity of the symptoms and the treatment for them. This can relieve both your pet and you!