What Is An Allergy ?
A Dog allergy is when the immune system is hyperactive and oversensitive to a particular substance called an allergen. Maximum allergens are proteins from plants, insects, animals, or foods.
For allergy to happen allergen, protein combines with antibodies in the blood and then attaches to a cell called a mast cell. When the antigen and antibody react with mast cells, the mast cells produce chemicals, i.e histamines, which cause inflammation such as hives, redness, swelling, and itching.
What are the Types & Causes of Allergy in Dogs?
Respiratory Allergy: Respiratory allergy causes sneezing, reverse sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and itching. in ears. This is generally caused by seasonal changes when there is pollen in the air or by strong-smelling substances like cleaning agents, fragrances etc.
Digestive System Allergy: Digestive system allergy causes diarrhea or vomiting in dogs. This is generally caused by food (food allergy). PLant based protein in certain food items can be treated as Allergen by dog’s immune system and can create allergic symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.
Food Allergy: Food allergy is an overreaction of the immune response, which treats protein generated from some plant-based food as an allergen. This creates symptoms ranging from skin conditions i.e hives, facial swelling, itchiness, digestive system conditions i.e vomiting and/or diarrhea or a combination of both. In some cases but very rarely it can be fatal too.
Seasonal Allergy: Seasonal allergy is the allergy that happens in changing seasons when there is an abundance of pollen in the air and dogs allergic to pollens can show skin allergy or respiratory allergy symptoms.
Skin Allergy: Skin allergy can be caused by food allergy- plant proteins being the allergens, seasonal allergy- pollen being the allergen and flea allergy which happens in some dogs since they are allergic to flea saliva. Flea saliva makes dogs extremely itchy and their skin may become red, inflamed, and scabbed.
Acute Allergic Reactions: Acute allergic reactions happen when a dog gets an anaphylactic shock in which dog might have swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyelids, or earflaps. This is rarely fatal. Causes of this allergic reaction can be Bee Stings or medicine/vaccine side reactions among other reasons.
What are Dog Allergens?
Following are common dog allergens:
- Cigarette smoke
- Cleaning products
- Drugs – prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)
- Dust mites
- Bird Feathers
- Food – Plant proteins
- Fleas and flea-control products
- Mold spores
What are Dog Allergy Symptoms?
In general, however, the following symptoms could be a sign of an allergic reaction.
- Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
- Red and inflamed skin
- Itching in ears
- Watery Eyes
- Constant licking
How is Dog Allergy Diagnosed?
There are two types of allergy tests which can be performed to find the allergen which caused the allergy in dog:
Serum Allergy Testing:In this test and blood sample it taken from the dog. The lab tests the serum for the presence of the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood. Antibodies are the reasons for the allergic reaction in the body. However, serum allergy testing is not highly accurate to detect the reason for allergy.
Intradermal Allergy Testing: This is a skin test generally performed by a dermatologist to identify the allergen which is causing the allergic reaction. In this test the dermatologist will place a series of injections containing 60-70 types of allergens under the skin and check the reactions on the site of injection. If the dog is allergic to a certain type of allergen then the site of injection will turn red and swell in few minutes. This will confirm what types of allergens the dog is allergic to. Many allergic dogs will have reactions to multiple allergens. This type of testing is considered most accurate to determine the allergens the dogs are allergic to.
Are There Any Dog Allergy Home Remedies?
In case of allergies you should always consult a vet however there are some home remedies that can benefit your dog along with doctor’s consultation.
Colloidal Oatmeal Baths
Colloidal Oatmeal Baths can soothe your dog’s itchy skin by reducing inflammation and washing away allergens that get trapped in the fur. Oatmeal bath has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease redness, swelling, and itchiness, and cool your dog’s hot, uncomfortable skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has strong antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. You can create a spray by mixing 50% of apple cider vinegar and 50% of water. Spray the mixture on your dog skin where the dog skin is irritated and it should relax the bacterial or fungal infection at the spot of spray.
Please Note: Apple cider vinegar should not be used on open wounds of dogs. It will be extremely painful for dogs.
Coconut oil can be applied on the coat or fur of the dog and it will soothe the area of eczema or irritation in the skin. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Coconut oil can also be given in small quantities in dog food for the well being of skin and coat.
Aloe Vera has healing properties and is also known to cool down the hot areas on the skin. Application of un-flavored aloe vera will help treat itchy skin, eczema, skin allergy, hot spots and skin rashes.
Please Note: Aloe vera should not have any artificial flavors and should be alcohol-free.
Baking soda paste, when applied on a dog’s skin, can help dry out rashes on the skin, reduce itching, and reduce redness and inflammation of the skin. Baking soda paste can be made by mixing 50% baking soda and 50% water. Blend the mixture to create a paste and apply it at the affected area.
How Can Dog Allergy Be Prevented?
Following are the preventive measures to avoid allergic reactions in your dog:
- Prevent Fleas: All dogs who are allergic to flea saliva should be treated with flea preventive treatments all year long. Flea allergy makes dogs bite off the fur from the area where flea had bitten them and making those areas open for other bacterial infections. Flea allergy causes itching, redness and rashes.
- Bathe your dog regularly: Bathe your dog regularly (once a week) with a soap-free shampoo made especially for dogs. Shampoos with oatmeal and aloe vera can help soothe the skin irritation caused by allergic reactions. In case of severe allergies, doctor may prescribe medicated shampoos to treat flea infestation and soothe the skin allergy symptoms.
- Choose Right Food: Choose the right food for your dog basis his body reactions for different food items. Eliminate food that causes food allergy and focus on high-quality food which makes a balanced diet for your dog.
- Pick the right dog bed: Pick a foam-based bed for your dogs since foam beds don’t harbor mites and other insects which can cause allergies in dogs. Wash beds once per week to keep your pet safe from allergies.