How Do You Know if Your Dog Has Allergies?
All we want as pet parents is for our dogs to be happy and healthy, so it’s distressing when we suspect they could be uncomfortable. Dog allergies are surprisingly common, so here are six tell-tale signs to look out for to keep your dog living their best life.
1. Is Your Dog Is Scratching More Than Usual?
Scratching is among the most common identifiable symptoms when it comes to skin allergies, both in dogs and in people. Any number of environmental allergens can prompt this type of allergy. Take a closer look at your dog’s skin to see if you can notice any hives, redness, or irritation referred to as hot spots.
Hot spots are a special kind of skin condition characterized by a red, inflamed, moist lesion. Hair loss is also typical with these spots, and this is often exacerbated by a dog constantly picking at the area out of discomfort.
If you notice one or more hot spots on your dog, it is best to bring them to the vet sooner rather than later. One hot spot is not a massive cause for alarm, but it is essential to do everything in your power to keep it from getting infected.
Keep in mind that a dog can be itchy for a wide number of reasons, such as parasites, skin problems, skin infections, and more. Diagnosing if these common symptoms are due to a type of allergy may require some testing. Discuss your pet’s allergy symptoms with a veterinary dermatologist. It might also be time for some allergy testing or blood tests to rule out bacterial infections.
2. Is Your Dog Constantly Licking?
This is yet another strong indicator that your dog is feeling itchy. Many pet guardians might think of licking as just a form of grooming, but it also can indicate an allergic reaction that manifests as itchiness.
At first, it can be somewhat difficult to tell exactly why your dog is licking themselves. Even though self-grooming is more typically associated with cats, dogs also maintain their fur through licking. If the allergic reaction is not very severe, distinguishing between a normal amount of licking and an excessive amount can be hard to identify.
If you think this licking might be due to itchiness or discomfort, look at your dog’s skin. Does it appear red or swollen? If there are any patches of hair missing, this is a clear indication of overgrooming and means that something is amiss. This hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, but keep a close eye on the frequency with which your dog licks their paws.
Environmental, seasonal, and food allergies can all result in discomfort in a dog’s paws. The paws are also often affected because they have the most contact with the elements. If your dog has recently come into contact with an allergen outside, the chances are that they stepped on it or investigated it with their paws in some way. This results in skin irritation, itchy skin, and other forms of dog allergies.
3. Has Your Dog Been Exposed to a New Allergen?
When your dog starts showing signs of a possible allergic reaction, you should consider if there have been any changes in their routine. It’s possible that everything is exactly the same as always, but you might realize your dog has encountered something new.
There are a few common dog allergens, with most falling into the following categories.
Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies are a common cause of discomfort in dogs, so it is crucial to keep an eye on what your dog eats and when. If your dog is experiencing an allergy to their food, they could experience a number of different reactions. Anything from skin irritation to stomach issues is possible, but there are ways to help your dog feel better. However, GI symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting should be brought to your vet’s attention if they persist.
If you recently started your dog on a new food or treat when the symptoms began, it’s reasonable to assume that’s what is causing the issue, but you should still consult with a vet. However, you should also identify the specific allergen that started the problem so it can be avoided in other forms.
Most often, a form of protein sparks an allergic reaction to food. However, this is not always the case. To get a more thorough picture of what’s going on, your vet might recommend putting your pet on hypoallergenic dog food. This way, if the symptoms go away, you have determined for sure that the food was the issue, and you can move forward.
Environmental Allergies and Seasonal Allergies
Environmental allergies are incredibly common, and they can seem difficult to manage. For some allergens like dust, you can clean your house more often to help with your dog’s symptoms. However, when it comes to environmental allergies that are more seasonal, you might have fewer options at your disposal.
Seasonal allergies are an unfortunate reality that both pets and pet parents alike know all too well. Most of these allergens are pollen from various plants, trees, and flowers.
Spring is a beautiful time to get outside with your dog and experience the weather as it shifts into a warmer temperature, but those with allergies know that it’s never quite that simple. Since so many plants are in bloom, this season can be a nightmare when it comes to pollen production. These allergens are typically inhaled, but the allergic reaction can manifest in different ways all over the body.
4. Is Your Dog Is Sneezing or Sniffling?
Sneezing, sniffling, and runny nose are symptoms that humans often associate with their own seasonal allergies, but they can happen to dogs as well. A small amount of sneezing should not be overly concerning, as long as there is no indication that your dog is having trouble breathing.
However, if your dog begins to run a fever, you should take them to the vet immediately. This could be a sign of an upper respiratory infection, rather than a simple allergy. If you notice your dog sneezing significantly more after going on a walk or after sniffing something specific outside, it’s likely that they encountered an allergen.
If these symptoms persist, your vet might recommend antihistamines or allergy shots to lessen this reaction in the future. Make sure that you fully discuss and understand the potential side effects before pursuing immunotherapy or other forms of allergy relief. Other measures such as skin testing or an elimination diet could also be in order to determine the root cause of the allergy.
5. Do You Notice Evidence of Fleas on or Around Your Dog?
If you suspect your dog has fleas, you can first look at their skin. Fleas tend to prefer warm areas, so they often hang out in your dog’s armpit or around the groin area.
A visual inspection might be all you need. If the infestation is bad enough, or if you simply pick the right spot, you could see minuscule dots crawling around the strands of your pet’s hair.
If this does not yield a satisfactory result, you can go for a more in-depth look. Use a fine-toothed flea comb to see anything lurking in the fur, from flea dander to the actual fleas themselves.
Why Do Flea Bites Itch?
Many of us think of bug bites as being in their own special category of annoying. In reality, bug bites are so itchy and uncomfortable due to an allergic reaction. It is not the actual bite itself that irritates, but what the pesky flea leaves behind. When it comes to flea bites, dogs are allergic to flea saliva.
Fleas bite hosts to suck their blood and use it as fuel. After they are done biting, the flea deposits a small amount of their own saliva to stop the bleeding. Your dog’s immune system then perceives the saliva as an intruder and attacks it to drive it out of their body. This attack comes in the form of a chemical known as histamine. The histamine makes the skin itchy, inflamed, and uncomfortable.
Since each dog ’s immune system and immune response is different, it is typical that certain animals will have stronger reactions to a flea infestation than others. That being said, at least some discomfort can be expected. Flea allergy dermatitis is quite common, and treatment might be required to help your dog feel less itchy.
6. Did Your Pet’s Parents Also Have Allergies?
Not all pet parents have the luxury of knowing the exact health and condition of their dog’s biological mom and dad, but this information can be helpful. People are predisposed to having stronger allergic reactions based on how their parents reacted. Your dog is the same way. For instance, if your dog’s mother had a severe reaction to bee stings, it is more likely that your dog will too.
This predisposition toward more severe allergic reactions is known as atopy. These atopic reactions can be caused by mold, dust mites, pollen, and more.
How to Keep Your Dog Comfortable
If your dog is experiencing allergies, they will need a comfortable place to lay their head and sleep. We know that a little rest and relaxation is exactly what the vet ordered when it comes to feeling better (plus maybe some fatty acids and corticosteroids). Luckily, the Complete Crate Set has your pet covered.
Your dog can feel safe and comfortable while they heal or go through treatment. And you will feel better knowing your dog has somewhere all to themselves where they feel happy and relaxed.
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