Allergies are common in humans, but they can also affect animals, including dogs. The number of allergic dogs is even increasing.
So how do you know if your dog is allergic? And how to treat it? We explain it all to you!
Our four-legged friends can develop different types of allergies. To know everything about allergies in dogs, read our article!
The different allergies of the dog
An allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to a substance called an allergen. Antibodies are then produced in excessive quantities, causing an inflammatory reaction.
In the case of flea bite allergy, also called DAPP (Dermatitis by Allergy to Flea Bites), it is a protein contained in the saliva of these small parasites that is responsible for the allergic reaction.
Food allergies (not to be confused with food intolerance) are generally caused by an animal protein source.
Our four-legged friends can also suffer from seasonal allergies caused by pollens.
Sometimes our furry friends are allergic to more than one thing, which is called atopy.
In dogs, allergic reactions are triggered after prolonged exposure to the allergen. An allergy to flea bites is therefore more common in dogs that often have parasites. Similarly, food allergies are usually caused by protein sources that are widely used in dog food, such as beef.
Allergies in dogs usually appear between the ages of 1 and 3 years, and as a rule never before the age of 6 months.
What are the symptoms of allergy in dogs?
All types of allergies have common symptoms in dogs. These symptoms are usually skin-related:
- Itching (pruritus) and biting;
- Irritation of the skin;
- Hair loss;
- Ear infections.
In case of food allergy, digestive problems can also be observed: vomiting or diarrhea for example.
Seasonal allergies (pollen allergies) can also cause respiratory problems (coughing) that can lead to asthma attacks.
How do you diagnose allergy in dogs?
As you can see, identifying the cause of the allergy is quite difficult since the symptoms can be similar for each type of allergy.
Therefore, diagnosis can only be made by exclusion. If you suspect that your dog is having an allergic reaction, you should consult your veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis.
First, the veterinarian will check your dog for fleas. Indeed, for flea allergy, it is appropriate to treat the dog against these parasites to cure it.
If the veterinarian thinks it's a food allergy, then you'll have to opt for an avoidance diet. You will need to feed your dog a diet containing a source of carbohydrates and protein that he has never eaten before for at least 8 weeks. This should eliminate the allergy symptoms. You will then return to the old diet to see if it triggers any new allergic reactions. If it does, it was a food allergy.
How to treat an allergic dog?
The treatment will obviously depend on the type of allergy. But, in all cases, it will be necessary to avoid contact with the allergen in question.
In the case of a flea bite allergy or an atopic dog, all animals in the house should be treated permanently. You will also need to clean the home thoroughly, as flea larvae may be hiding in the home.
If your pet has a food allergy, you will need to switch to a hypoallergenic food.
If your dog is allergic to pollen or dust mites, he should be brushed after every walk to remove allergens from his coat.
Your allergic dog's ears should also be monitored and cleaned regularly.
In any case, it is important to follow the treatment recommended by your veterinarian.
Special case: atopy
In some cases, the dog may be allergic to several substances, which is called environmental allergy, or atopy. Atopy is generally the result of a genetic predisposition. It is estimated that 15% of dogs are affected by atopy.
Several breeds of dogs are concerned:
- French Bulldog, Bull Terrier, English Bulldog;
- Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever;
In the case of atopy, the skin of the doggie presents redness on the legs, the belly and in the skin folds. The skin may also thicken and become superinfected. In addition, the dog may suffer from chronic ear infections.
To diagnose atopy, the veterinarian will perform an intradermal test or an allergological test based on a blood sample.
To treat atopy, it is possible to proceed with desensitization (immunotherapy) but this is a long treatment, with no guarantee of cure.
You now know everything about the allergies that can affect our hairballs. Did you already know that dogs can also suffer from allergies? Tell us in comments!