Your dog is a special, furry member of the family. Just like us humans, they can get sick and need your care, or even suffer from allergies. Plus, just like humans, their allergies can have several possible causes, like genetics, environment, and food.
Common symptoms to look for in your canine include chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, or gas. You may also notice your furry friend excessively licking his paws or scratching themselves. This can indicate an allergic reaction. Other symptoms to look out for include red irritated eyes, nasal discharge and coughing, and sneezing.
If you notice your dog scratching or chewing any specific body part, you may want to check for fleas. You should get a flea comb to check. Then, bring your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. It’s important to nip a flea problem in the bud before an infestation occurs.
In the case that you got rid of them and still find your dog continuing to itch long after the fleas met their fate, your dog may have Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). This is an allergic reaction to flea saliva. A similar situation is people with nut allergies. All it takes is the tiniest bit of peanut butter or brushing against a peanut to cause swelling. Like this severe sensitivity, a dog with FAD can experience skin irritation from just one or two fleas.
Dogs may also suffer from food allergies and experience common digestive system symptoms. It is possible for dogs to become allergic to foods they have long been exposed to and love.
The most common food intolerances include beef, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, fish, dairy, wheat, soy, and eggs. This may seem like every food your dog eats so check in with your pet’s vet to see what other food options you can transition your dog to.
Keep in mind when food intolerances appear in dogs it is not usually an intolerance to simply one food. That is partially why the list is so long. It can also be a reaction to the way the food is processed, so trying a few different brands or types of food (i.e. fresh food, kibble, freeze-dried, etc.)
Ten percent of dog allergy cases are food related, so if you aren’t sure what is causing your dog’s symptoms, the food is a good place to start after checking for fleas.
Dogs can also experience environmental allergies in the same way humans experience seasonal and annual allergies. If your pup is experiencing allergies year-round, it’s likely he has indoor allergies. If your dog experiences allergy-related symptoms after being outside, it’s likely he has seasonal allergies. It is especially important to find the root cause of any environmental allergens to prevent the symptoms from severely worsening.
Finding the cause of your dog’s allergic reaction(s) and eliminating them is the best way to address the issue. Simply alleviating the symptoms will not solve the problem and your pet’s allergies may continue to persist, creating a lifelong health issue. Drugs used for treating the allergy cycle can be helpful, but can also come with serious side effects.
Steroid therapy is one pharmaceutical method commonly leaned on to treat dog allergies. It works by stopping the allergic reactions by shutting down the immune system all together. While it may successfully cure your pup of experiencing allergic reactions, it can have powerful effects on your dog’s body, so be sure to research and consult your vet.
If you’re keen to stay away from pharmaceutical options, there are safer alternatives that you can take to find the root cause of your dog’s allergic reaction. Here are some things you can do to alleviate and/or eliminate your dog’s allergy symptoms:
How to help alleviate their symptoms
Bathe and groom your dog more often
Bathing your dog regularly will wash away any topical allergens that are irritating his skin, and can provide instant relief. The severity of the symptoms will determine how frequently you will want to give your dog a bath.
Use a hypoallergenic or oatmeal-based shampoo. Oatmeal shampoos are great for maintaining moisture in the skin and coat, so you don’t dry his skin out and cause more irritation than he is already feeling. This will also allow you to wash your pup more frequently if need be.
If your dog has fleas, use a non-grain herbal shampoo to soothe and help heal the skin. It is important for the shampoo to not be grain-based because the coarseness will irritate the damaged skin from flea bites or the FAD reaction. A clean coat is less attractive to fleas and everyone loves a clean dog.
Brushing your dog’s coat on a daily basis will help you check for fleas. This allows you to catch them as early as possible and control shedding. Many dogs consider it a pleasant, full-body scratching session, so you shouldn’t have too hard of a time getting your furry friend to cooperate with you.
Use a natural pest and flea repellent during flea season
Natural pest repellents are great for households that share dogs and cats or other furry friends. This is because they are safe for all of them, not just your dog.
Clean your dog’s indoor environment
Cut out any indoor smoking or scented candles because it will likely bother your furry friend. You should also try to rid your house of all toxic cleaning products and transition to pet-friendly, all-natural cleaning products.
After your dog plays outside, if he has environmental allergies, he could bring them inside, and get the allergens all over the place. To maintain a mostly allergen-free safe zone for your pup, clean wherever your dog sleeps on a weekly basis. If he sleeps in a bed, chair, or on a blanket, be sure to vacuum or wash it. In general, vacuuming and sweeping your indoor areas more often will help your furry friends.
You may also want to consider getting a HEPA air purifier or air purifying pet-friendly plants to filter the air. This will benefit you and your pup by reducing pollutants, dust mites, and dog dander that you, your dog, or visitors may be aggravated by.
Give your dog high-quality drinking water
Make sure you give your dog fresh, clean water. It should be free of fluoride, heavy metals, and contaminants. If you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t make your dog drink it, especially if he is experiencing food or environmental allergies. Be sure to clean and refresh the water daily as well to prevent bacterial build-up on the bowl.
Develop an allergy elimination diet
Consult your dog’s vet when developing a diet. This is important to pinpoint any food intolerances your dog may be experiencing. After the elimination diet, which should last 2-3 months, you can begin to incorporate new foods and monitor your dog’s response.
Alongside the elimination diet, your pet’s vet should recommend incorporating natural supplements to support detoxification, allergy relief, and the immune system during and after the process. Once the body has been detoxified, it is possible previous problem foods to no longer cause any issues. This process will also be beneficial because pets need variety in their diet in the same way humans do.
With this, you may choose the option of providing your dog a cooked or raw diet, instead of just trying different kibbles. You may also consider preparing your dog’s food since you would know exactly what your dog is eating. If you choose this, be careful to ensure that you are giving your buddy a well-balanced diet.
These processes are sometimes lengthy and complicated and may include some lifestyle changes to adjust to the allergy-related symptoms your dog has. Fortunately for you, the reward of seeing your best friend sleep comfortably and running around with their tail wagging makes it all worth the effort in the end.