Man’s best friend can get allergies, too. In fact, many veterinarians believe we are experiencing an “allergy epidemic” with a ballooning number of pets developing allergies. Some attribute this to more stringent vaccination protocols. Others blame poor breeding practices or chemicals in processed pet foods.
So how do you know if your dog has allergies? The main symptom includes rashes, excessive itching, and paw licking and chewing. Dogs may rub their face against furniture items in an attempt to alleviate itching. As they itch and chew at their body, they may create bald spots that can develop into warm, red infected patches that may ooze and bleed and are warm to the skin (“hot spots.”)
So what is your dog allergic to? Chances are, many of the same things you are. Dogs are affected by seasonal pollens as well as dust. They can also be allergic to proteins, grains, and dairy products found in their food. (If it’s a food allergy, note that your dog may react with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.) And did you know that just as people may be allergic to dogs, dogs can be allergic to humans? Their immune system may react negatively when it encounters human dander (the tiny specks of dead skin we slough off throughout the day).
See a vet if your dog is demonstrating allergy symptoms. Topical solutions can work, though they are usually limited to short-term results. (When you stop the cream, the allergy symptoms may return.) Antihistamines can also provide short-term relief. Steroids may be a longer-term solution, but keep in mind that they can compromise your pet’s long-term health.
For a more lasting treatment without the side effects of medications, consider allergy immunotherapy which can retrain the immune system to stop having allergic reactions in the first place. Immunotherapy is available through allergy shots and also through easy-to-administer allergy drops available through companies like PALLERGY®.