Dog Allergies

by Rebecca on January 14, 2008

in Animal Health

Article By David The Dogman

Allergy is a disease in which the immune system reacts abnormally to every
day substances such as pollens, animal dander, mold spores, mites, certain
foods and chemicals. All of these allergic reactions are unpleasant, some
are serious, and a few can be fatal. The offensive substances causing
allergies are known as allergens. An allergic reaction may be caused by
inhaling or ingesting the allergen or may be the result of direct contact
with the allergen.

What are the signs of allergy?

The most common signs are scratching, face rubbing and biting and chewing at
the skin. Usual locations for signs of allergy are the flank, feet, face,
particularly around the eyes, mouth and ears, as well as areas around the
base of the tail. In dogs, allergies are often the underlying cause of
persistent skin disease. However not all scratching is due to an allergy.
Conditions such as thyroid disease, fleas and certain infections, such as
ringworm, can cause similar

How do dogs get allergies?

They are generally inherited. The typical allergic dog starts with a short
period of biting and chewing the first year. This may be mild and hardly
noticeable. With repeated exposures to the offending allergens, the dog
gradually experiences prolonged periods of discomfort and more severe signs.
Allergies occur whenever the offending allergens are present. The more
common allergens such as house dust mites or mold spores will produce signs
of allergy year round, while allergies from plants that pollinate during
warm months only happen at that time.

Food allergy can happen by itself or it may be a component of an overall
allergy problem. Because of the complexity of allergy diagnosis, the
combination of patient history, physical examination and allergy signs in
the pet are all important in making an accurate diagnosis.

Can allergies be prevented?

Since allergies are inherited, there is no absolute way to prevent them.
However allergies can be controlled.. The best control is achieved through
avoidance of the offending allergens, so if, for example, your pet is
allergic to fleas, it is better to prevent flea infestation. But allergens
like dusts and mites are virtually impossible to avoid resulting in the need
for alternative allergy treatments. How do I know if my dog has allergies?
If your dog is persistently chewing its feet or scratching at its face,
allergy may be a possible cause. Unfortunately, there are no specific signs
for allergy so you will need to rely on your pet’s vet to make that

Allergy diagnosis requires eliminating other causes for your dog’s clinical
signs. This involves taking a detailed history of your dog’s signs, a
complete physical examination and some preliminary laboratory tests. If it
is found that an allergy is the likely cause, your vet may recommend allergy
testing to confirm the diagnosis.

How are allergies treated?

There are a number of different ways or combinations of ways to treat
allergies. If it is mild, control may be achieved through avoiding contact
with the offending allergens and medications to control the clinical signs.
In pets with more severe allergies, or in pets where allergies occur year
round, specific allergy treatments such as immunotherapy (allergy shots) may
be needed. This is often recommended because prolonged use of certain
medications, especially steroids, reduces itching, but produces serious
side-effects which may decrease the quality and length of your pet’s life.
The vet may, therefore, discuss various alternative treatments with you
based on your needs and the needs of your pet.

How successful is treatment?

The success depends on several factors including the overall health of your
dog, the severity of the allergies,
and a commitment to therapy. In general, the steps to successful allergy
treatment involve the following:
1. Trying to avoid or reduce the allergens in the environment.
2. Giving recommended medications to control clinical signs, and
3. Identifying the specific allergens causing clinical signs in your pet,
followed by allergy immunotherapy.This combination will result in successful
allergy treatment for most pets.

Allergies to dogs.

Sneezes, rashes or asthmatic reactions can be triggered by any breed of dog.
Dandruff from the top skin and certain proteins in saliva and urine cause
allergic problems in humans. Most research on allergies caused by pets has
centred on those created by cats. This is not surprising because they are
twice as likely to make their owners sneeze as dogs. For example it has been
discovered that cats with long hair tend to shed less allergen and so their
owners have fewer reactions. Cats with short hair give off more allergen.

Sufferers should keep their dogs outdoors at night. Certainly dogs and cats
that live indoors should not be allowed on beds or even in the allergic
person’s bedroom. However research has shown that if a cat or dog is washed
once a week the airborne allergens are cut drastically.

Dandruff collects on the carpets and in upholstered furniture so for those
suffering allergies it is better to be without carpets and have wooden
furniture or leather. If it is impossible to remove carpets then these
should be steamed cleaned every three months to remove allergens. It is also
advisable to wash walls and floors. Animal allergens are very small and very
sticky and once they are secreted they dry on the animal’s fur. There they
stick until becoming airborne during petting and grooming. Then, because
they are so small, they can stay airborne for a long time and, because they
are sticky, they adhere to walls, clothing, and heating and cooling ducts.
Some years ago I gave up smoking and noticed that I was coughing and choking
when handling dogs. After a few tests I was told: “Mr. Dogman you are an
asthmatic and allergic to dogs.” Sadly I now have to take all kind of things
to help control my allergic symptoms from medication to inhalers and I wash
my hands more than a surgeon, change my clothes several times a day and wash
my dogs every week. But with all my allergies I could not live without dogs
because I know that dogs enhance our quality of life and are worth having
around. So, if you are allergic to dogs, don’t give up on them, they are
still worth having around.

Article By David The Dogman

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