How can you tell if your dog has allergies?

How can you tell if your dog has allergies?
Allergies in dogs.

Are you in confusion seeing your dog being uncomfortable and inactive? The first question that might have hit your mind would be if your dog has an allergy? And if your loyal companion is actually allergic so what’s the severity of the allergy? All these questions would be answered in this article.

What are allergies?

Allergies are the dog body’s response against a specific particle (allergen) which it recognizes as a foreign particle and the body starts to act against it. The first antibody produced against allergens is IgE by a process of sanitization. Mainly 10% of dogs encounter different types of allergies.

What is the most common allergens in dogs?

Just as Humans are allergic to different antigens, the same is the case with dogs but since humans can speak about their discomfort, dogs cannot which is why they represent their discomfort via signs and symptoms which is exactly what you have to notice to say if your dog is allergic. Each type of allergies has its own specific symptoms and some may have alike symptoms, while in some there might be skin rashes apparent on your dog but in some, the symptoms might not be clearly visible this is because some allergies take time to impress physically while some have instant physical reactions although you can’t say that instantly expressive allergy is less harmful than the one that takes time to express or vice versa because it’s all the game of antigens or allergens. The type of allergen that has affected your pet is the prime focus in identifying the cause of allergy.
Let’s see what those allergens that cause terrible allergies are.

The most common allergens are:

  • Proteins
  • Flea saliva
  • Fungi
  • Grass
  • Pollen

Types of dog allergies

Dog allergies types have broadly been categorized into below 4 categories and the terms like skin, food or seasonal allergies fall into its sub-categories mainly in immediate hypersensitivity (another term for allergy)

  • Immediate hypersensitivity
  • Cytotoxic hypersensitivity
  • Immune complex hypersensitivity
  • Delayed hypersensitivity

Immediate hypersensitivity

As the name indicates, these are the type of allergies in which symptoms appear immediately usually within 30 minutes or can take 12 hours this is because the allergens come in direct contact with the tissues of the skin, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal system which is way rashes, breathing problems or stomach imbalance is mostly seen in such kind of allergies.

It is subcategorized into:

  • Food allergies
  • Inhalant allergies
  • Fleabite allergies
  • Allergic contact dermatitis

Food allergies

Food allergies are often confused with food intolerance and this confusion arises due to the alike symptoms that they both possess. However specialist says that both of these terms are different. A true food allergy takes into account the immune system response against a certain food ingredient. In simple words, the body’s immune system recognizes a food ingredient let say a protein, and produces antibodies against it while food intolerance is referred to when a dog is unable to digest a certain food ingredient. Food intolerance is more common than true food allergy.
Food allergies can be inherited as well, the best thing you can do to prevent it is to do different food trails on your dog and see his reaction to it.

Food allergy symptoms
  • Itchy skin and paws
  • Skin rashes
  • Pigmented skin
  • Hot spots caused by excessive scratching
  • Scaly or oily skin
  • Sneezing
  • Red sour eyes and eye discharge
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hair loss
Common food allergens and its sources
  • Proteins in beef, chicken, eggs, soy, and lamb
  • Lactose in dairy
  • Carbohydrate in wheat
Diagnosis of food allergies

If the above-mentioned symptoms are found in your pet, then it’s always recommendable to put your vet a visit however if somehow you can’t pay a visit and decide to treat on your own so you can make the commercial skin and blood cells however it said that its accuracy is not evident.
As discussed above, the best practice is to put your dog on an elimination diet, try to eliminate the suspected ingredients one by one, and see the results. This process was initiated by veterinary nationalist Dr. Susan Wynn where she first put off all the food the dog was eating and gave him the food he has never eaten before. After seeing the improvements, the old food is reintroduced usually the one that is suspected to be an allergen, if the reaction is caused, then the allergen is automatically identified.

Inhalant Allergies

Evident by its name, these allergies are caused when the dog comes in contact with allergens present in the environment such as pollen, dust, or mold. It is also known as Atopy and is the main reason behind itching and respiratory problems in dogs. It’s said that 10-15% of the dog population gets affected by environmental allergens which is why you can say that it’s also the most common type of dog allergies however this one is a bit harder to control due to its contact with nearly unavoidable items such as lawns for instance.

Inhalant allergy symptoms
  • Itchy skin
  • Redness
  • Dandruff
  • Scaly skin
  • Hair loss
  • Rashes
  • Ear Infection
  • Respiratory problems such as difficulty in breathing, sneezing, etc.
Diagnosis of inhalant allergies

Diagnosis of inhalant allergies is comparatively difficult to diagnosing other allergies due to its allergen type. Pollens, dust particles, and mold spores are present in an infinite amount in the environment which is why its diagnostic procedure is quite complicated and expensive as well.

Flea Allergies

These are caused when a dog gets bitten by a flea and they inject their saliva into the dog’s body that contains histamine-like compounds and protein. As soon as the protein enters into the dog’s body, it provokes itching all over the body. These allergies are most common in warm spring and summer. The main cause behind flea allergies is the environment in which you have put your dog in. these mini bugs just take a single bite to create dangerous itching on the soul of your poor pet. Control of the flea population is the only solution to get rid of this allergy.

Flea allergies symptoms
  • Extremely itchy skin especially in the area above the tail. The most common areas of itching are:
    • Lower back
    • Tail base
    • Inner thighs
    • Lower belly
  • Brown color fur in the affected areas due to excessive licking
  • Hair loss
  • Crusty and Blackened skin in some cases.

Contact dermatitis allergies

Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is a rare yet dangerous type of allergy that causes awful inflammation on dogs when it interacts with an allergen. Although this one is not so common because dog's fur has in them some protective chemicals however if the allergens somehow seek to surpass the barrier, you will clearly be able to see inflammation in thin furred areas such as paws and abdomen.

Contact dermatitis symptoms
  • Sore skin
  • Inflamed pattches of skin
  • Itchiness
  • Color change
  • Scaling
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Fluid discharge from the affected area
  • Dry skin
  • Self-mutilation
  • Secondary skin lesions from scratching
  • Secondary bacterial infection

Cytotoxic hypersensitivity

Cyto is the word used to define cell, in this allergic reaction the body’s antibodies attack its own tissues by mistaking them as allergens. In other terms, we also call this an autoimmune response. These allergies are caused as a result of a transfusion reaction or due to vaccine-induced autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Its reaction can be seen mostly in 3 to 10 hours.

Immune complex hypersensitivity

Not regularly found in dogs, in these types of allergies, an antibody-allergen complex is formed that is capable of integrating into tissues such as skin, joints, and vessels, etc. and there they are used to initiate the classical pathway which is the normal body procedure of killing antigens. It occurs within 3-10 hours of exposure to the allergen.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is one of its examples.

Delayed hypersensitivity

Also termed as contact allergy is an uncommon type in pets or dogs and is mostly caused as a reaction to poison ivy that comes from the detergents or stuffing used for dogs. You can see the rashes on the areas that have a low amount of fur in this type of allergy.

Dog allergies diagnosis

Diagnosis of dog allergies is depended on the allergy type and on the area where symptoms have appeared. For instance, allergies involving skin reactions are diagnosed via Intradermal skin testing.

  • Intradermal skin testing - a diagnostic procedure where dozens of allergens are injected into a dog’s body while the dog’s body has been made anesthetized for the process and its reaction is checked.
  • Blood test - another diagnostic procedure is to check allergens variety via a blood test. It is mostly done to check an antibody reaction against allergens.

However, it said that both of these tests are not sure to provide you with 100% accurate results but can definitely help in précising your list of suspected allergens.

Dog allergies prevention

Allergies can’t be cured but are managed with proper care and protocols. You can easily control a dog’s allergies and prevent them for long by following the below-written practices.

Review your dog’s vaccinations

Although vaccinating your dog is a good practice but you should be careful at not vaccinating it often this is because with vaccination the immune system is stimulated, and if vaccinations are taken in excessive amounts there is a high risk that the body will tend to form antibodies against its own tissues and cause serious allergies so it’s important to have a complete overview of the vaccine you are going to treat your dog with.

Focus on avoiding dog’s interaction with allergens

You possibly can avoid dog interaction with food allergens but that of the environment is difficult to control which is why the below-written practices might come to your rescue.

  • Try to replace the dog’s carpet with hard flooring
  • Vacuum the dog’s place frequently
  • Install air filters
  • Keep the dog bedding clean
  • Installing a dehumidifier can help you deal with the pollens and mold spores
  • Proper attention to Flea control
  • Make a practice of frequent bathing to wipe of allergens such as pollens and irritating skin secretions as well.

Pay attention to your dog’s diet

Dog’s diet is a very crucial element to eliminate the risk of getting food allergies. Set up a periodic diet plan and it’s good to change brand and flavors every 3-4 months. This change is good in order to make your pet adjust to different food channels and sources. Dry food is most susceptible to allergies than canned, raw, or homemade this is why having a multiple diet plan can help you cope with the dog’s immune system in a good way. The Appropriate use of Supplements can also add to your dog’s health.
Supplement such as omega-3 fatty acid has in itself anti-inflammatory properties which are very important in preventing allergies. Other supplements such as antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and probiotics can also hold your hand at preventing allergies.

Dog allergies treatment at home

Try out the following practices to treat dog allergies at home.

  • Wiping your dog often to shed off the allergens
  • Use a hypoallergenic dog shampoo
  • Use of supplements such as fish oil, Probiotics, digestive enzymes, or Omega 3 fatty acid
  • Use Sulphodene products for treating itchiness
  • Use Medicated sprays to treat Fungal and bacterial infections

What dogs are worst for allergies?

Due to the hereditary nature of the disease, several breeds, including Golden Retrievers, most terriers, Irish Setters, Lhasa Apsos, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, and Old English Sheepdogs are more commonly atopic, but many dogs, including mixed breed dogs can have atopic dermatitis.