Pet Skin Allergies and How to Deal with It
It is a key responsibility for every pet-owner to ensure that their dogs have the best quality of life. Unfortunately, there are several possible issues that may arise in a dog’s lifetime. There are possible diseases and mishaps that could possibly affect a dog’s quality of life.
One of the major problems that dog owners face is skin allergies. Most, if not all dogs would usually experience having skin allergies at least once in their lifetime. As a pet owner, it would be such a pity to see your dog uneasy and always stopping to scratch. In extreme cases, these itches can actually get infected.
Nevertheless, skin allergies in dogs are actually nothing to be afraid of. With the proper information, management, and treatment, it can be easily overcome.
Skin allergies in dogs
Just like us, our dogs can also have allergic reactions. For them, it is usually caused by various factors including diet and environment. Some dogs may be allergic to certain food groups or food types that ingesting certain items could cause them to itch up. For some, it can be due to pollen or dust exposure. Insect bites and other parasites can also lead to dog skin allergies.
Different types of skin allergies
While symptoms of skin allergies may be similar, dog allergies actually come in different types. The most common of which are as follows:
- Flea allergy dermatitis
A flea infestation can actually cause a major problem if your dog is allergic to flea saliva. If so, this would make the flea bites extremely itchy. It would cause redness, inflammation, and even scabbing. If not given proper attention, this could lead to infection.
- Food allergies
Your dog’s sensitivity to certain food groups and food items could likewise be the cause of skin allergies. Some dogs are intolerant to chicken and poultry by-products. Others are sensitive to some types of fish. Aside from causing skin problems, it can also cause gastrointestinal issues.
- Environmental allergens
Just like us, dogs can also be allergic to certain elements in the environment. Allergens such as molds, dust and pollen can also be the cause of atopic allergic reactions. In most cases these allergies are seasonal and are most likely to occur during springtime when a lot of allergens lurk around.
All types of skin allergies could lead to a possible secondary infection. When your dog uncontrollably scratches and bites the affected areas, it could cause abrasions. These scrapes and scratches could end up getting infected by yeast or bacteria. In such cases, medical attention is already necessary.
Symptoms of skin allergies in dogs
To detect the occurrence of skin allergies early on, it is best to be mindful of the common symptoms. These symptoms occur for most types of skin allergies in dogs.
The symptoms include frequent uncontrolled scratching. A dog with skin allergies would usually stop in the middle of doing a certain activity to scratch incessantly and for some breeds, even obsessively.
Another symptom to be mindful of is the occurrence of red spots or redness in certain areas of the skin. This could usually be found under the ears, in between paws, in the belly and even in the muzzle.
In some cases when infection has already set in, you would notice a foul smell that’s different from your dog’s usual smell. This could already be due to the growth of yeast or bacteria in the affected areas.
It is always best to deal with your dog’s skin allergies by taking them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. Some types of allergies can be easily spotted. However, there are others that would require a bit more complicated procedure.
A veterinarian would usually start off by ruling out any other condition that might cause the allergy-like symptoms. By careful observation of other symptoms aside from the itching, they could easily conclude that your dog indeed has skin allergies.
One of the easiest types to spot is flea allergy. All that the vet needs to do is check for the presence fleas and flea eggs in your dog’s bodies. In this case, the flea issue should be addressed first in order to check if the skin allergy problem has also been cleared.
For possible food allergies, vets usually do an interview and probe on your dog’s diet. They will then suggest elimination of possible allergens from the diet and recommend hypoallergenic food options.
In some cases, serologic allergy testing can be performed. They would take a blood sample from your dog for analysis. Intradermal testing could also be done by injecting possible allergens to see if a red bump or any other allergic reaction develops.
How to treat skin allergies
Essentially, skin allergy management is centered on avoiding the allergens. However, treatment could involve various methods depending on the type of allergy and your preference.
For flea allergies, the primordial treatment involves getting rid of fleas. Specially formulated shampoos and dog powders can be used to get rid of these parasites. In extreme cases, your vet may also recommend oral medication to address the flea problem. In case of food allergies, most vets recommend careful diet planning and the use of hypoallergenic dog food formulas.
In some cases, the vet would likewise recommend the use of topical ointments or creams in order to stop the itching or inhibit the growth of bacteria or yeast. Most of the time, your dog will be required to wear a cone of shame to prevent him from licking the medication or biting and scratching the affected areas.
You can also try some home remedies which can ease the itch and stop your dog from continuously scratching the affected areas.
One natural remedy is aloe gel. If you have an aloe plant, the gel in the middle contains enzymes that can help relieve itch and inflammation.
How to prevent skin allergies in dogs
Of course it is always best to prevent the occurrence of skin allergies. Foremost, it is very important to avoid exposure to allergens.
Regular bathing and proper hygiene can help avoid flea infestations. Proper diet management will also prevent food allergies. Be mindful of what you feed your dog as not everything that’s edible to us humans can be fed to your dog.