How to Rid Skin Allergies for Dogs
Perhaps you have noticed your dog seems to be scratching more than usual or maybe they are licking their legs or feet consistently. You have probably checked for fleas, and have found nothing. It is very likely that your dog has developed a skin allergy. Skin allergies are very common in most dogs but some breeds are more prone to skin allergies than others. Golden retrievers, Poodles, Dalmatians, Boxers and Terriers can often have difficulties with these conditions. Dogs with double coats such as Akitas, Chows, Newfoundlands and other dogs are also potentially at greater risk as the double coat holds allergens to the skin and allows bacterial growth to occur more readily than in a single-coated dog breed.
Symptoms Of A Skin Allergy
Dogs will often display one or more of the following symptoms when they have a skin allergy:
1. Biting or chewing at the skin
2. Licking of the feet, legs and belly area
3. Rubbing of the head
5. Bare patches of skin
6. Irritated or red patches
7. Dry or flaky skin
The behavior will come and go depending on the exposure to the particular allergen. The exposure can be through mites, fleas, insects, the environment, cleaning products, changes in diets or medications. The dog first encounters the irritating compound and the body begins to build antibodies to attack the substance the next time the dog is exposed. They body simply overreacts to the exposure causing irritation and the behaviors listed above.
How To Control Allergies
Just like with humans there is no way to "cure" allergies, rather there are some ways to manage the allergies and control the environment to minimize the contact between the dog and the allergen.
The first step is to try to find out what the cause of the allergy may be. Look for any chemicals or perfumes that may be in the area. Pot pourri, air fresheners, carpet shampoos, dog shampoos or even paint or wallpaper or new carpeting can often trigger allergic reactions. Try to find new items or products being used in the house and eliminate them if possible.
Food items can also cause allergies that appear to be skin related. If the dog has recently had a change in diet or has started to eat plants or vegetation in the yard try changing the diet to the previous food or keeping the dog indoors for a few days to see if the allergy goes away. Often a diet that avoids commercially prepared foods and relies on more natural foods or foods specially formulated for allergies will provide good control and management of symptoms.
Seasonal allergies can often be controlled with small environmental changes and the use of antihistamines. A vet can prescribe and monitor the use of antihistamines for the dog, never use human medications, as there can be other serious health risks for your dog or puppy. For dogs with chronic skin allergies there are vaccinations that can be administered by your vet that will provide protection for several weeks per shot.
Skin allergies are serious and can lead to bacterial infections and other conditions as the dog's immune system is weakened. Be sure to talk to your vet about managing the allergies to keep your dog happy and healthy.
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