Allergy in dogs occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to allergy antibodies in substances (in the environment) that it normally would withstand. The most common allergies are airborne allergies, so-called atopic dermatitis, and food allergies. Dogs can also develop contact allergy. In some cases, you can not find the exact allergy.
Allergy manifests as scratching and inflammation of the skin. Airborne allergy is a life-long condition that needs individual care for the dog to feel as comfortable as possible and to alleviate pain. The goal is for the dog to feel good despite his disease and to prevent chronic skin problems. In the case of food allergy, the dog can be kept symptom-free if the pet owner, along with the veterinarian, discovers a food that can be tolerated by the dog, or if food that cannot be tolerated can be avoided.
Dogs with allergies often have itching as the most common problem. The itching is most common in the face, ears, armpits, groin and the area around the anal opening. Some dogs have problems with recurring ear infections or persistent paw problems.
Additional symptoms of allergy can also be that the dog tears, bites, nibbles, licks and rides on the tail. The skin becomes inflamed, reddened, thickened, pigmented, dandruff, furless and infected to varying degrees.
Additional signs of allergy can also be that the dog cries, kicks, nibbles, licks and rides on the tail. The skin is reddened, thickened, pigmented, furless and infected to various degrees. You should also be on the lookout for dandruff.
In order to diagnose allergies, the veterinarian must evaluate the various symptoms and changes in the skin and rule out other itchy causes such as parasites or skin infections.
In many cases, an allergy test is performed through a spot or blood test when checking the skin.
The first step is usually to rule out if the dog is allergic to food. This is done by allowing the dog to eat the so-called elimination diet for about eight weeks. This means a diet with completely new protein and carbohydrate sources that has not been eaten before. Most common nowadays is that the dog is given so-called hydrolyzed food, which is a special food usually purchased from a veterinarian, which is broken down so that the immune system cannot react to the proteins in the food.
If a home-made diet is given instead the ingredients must be carefully chosen and not contain what the dog has previously eaten. The elimination diet is given strictly, ie the dog must not eat anything other than the selected diet. Chewing bones must also be avoided.
During the diet, the hope is that the skin will change and that any ear infections will heal. To know that the animal really has a food reaction and that the improvement / healing has not taken place due to other treatment, a provocation is performed with the previous food. During the provocation, the dog usually gets a reaction within 14 days, but a reaction is often seen a few days after the dog has received food that it does not tolerate.
If a food allergy cannot be detected, the next step in the investigation is to perform a so-called spot test or a blood test for allergies. In these tests, allergic reactions to various substances can be detected, such as mites, pollen, mold or animal epithelium. The purpose of the test is that the dog can thereby more easily avoid what it does not tolerate and that a so-called allergy vaccination or immunotherapy can be carried out.
Allergic dog treatment is always tailored individually to the dog’s symptoms, the degree of itching and discomfort, and the pet owner’s options.
On the one hand, it is about trying to avoid what the dog does not tolerate, especially if it is a food or something that can be changed in its environment. It is partly about medical treatments with tablets or capsules with cortisone, ciclosporin or other allergy medicines.
The vast majority of dogs are often treated externally with a shampoo or spray. This is particularly important for the prevention of bacterial or fungal infections that aggravate itching. The dog is often bathed daily or every other day at the initial stages, and then at longer intervals, when the allergy is better and under control.
Shampoos used all have different structures, which may be bactericidal, antipruritic or dandruff. It is necessary to use shampoo correctly to make sure that they are able to sit in and work for 5-10 minutes until they are rinsed out. It’s important to rinse out all the shampoo.
Many dogs also require regular ear cleaning and cortisone drop treatment to avoid inflammation of the ear.
Fatty acid supplements with omega 3/6 fatty acids are also part of the treatment because the skin barrier is worse on allergic animals and it is important to try to restore this. Fatty acids can also be added to food for allergic dogs. The fatty acids have a certain antipruritic effect.
Many dogs are also treated with allergy vaccine. This means that a vaccine that contains the substances the dog cannot tolerate is produced and the pet owner gives it as injections or a spray in the mouth. Many dogs respond well to this type of treatment which has few side effects. The purpose of the allergy vaccine is to reduce the need for other medicines. Often it is sufficient to lubricate or spray cortisone externally as part of the procedure or as an allergy supplement.
Gluten Allergies In Dogs
When a dog is gluten intolerant, it reacts to grains found in dry food, e.g. wheat, oats, corn, rice or cereals. The allergy usually manifests itself by the dog getting diarrhea, but other symptoms can also occur. Dog food that is free of grains is becoming more and more common, even for dogs that are not hypersensitive to gluten. Reducing or completely avoiding carbohydrates can in many cases be beneficial for the dog.
Gluten-free dry food for dogs is available in different forms and from different suppliers. Here they focus on having as high a protein content of meat as possible and often avoid seasonings, preservatives or even artificial dyes to give the dog as clean a diet as possible.
Yeast Allergies In Dogs
In some dogs, yeast can grow strongly and cause a troublesome skin or ear infection. The yeast infection is inherently harmless, but affected dogs often relapse. Usually there is an underlying sensitivity in the skin that should be investigated.
Dogs with yeast infection get itching and redness in the skin. Areas that are more often affected by yeast infection are the skin around the rectal opening or vulva, between the toes and pads or in folds around the lips. In the case of ear infection with yeast, in addition to itching, the dog also gets increased production of earwax.
Often, the infection itself can be managed with the help of frequent cleaning with special antimicrobial agents or shampoos. To prevent recurrence, cortisone treatment can also be given locally or in tablet form. The treatment is carried out for the most part by the pet owner in the home, with regular return visits to the veterinarian.
If the dog has long-term or chronic issues with yeast infection, further investigations and treatment may be needed.
The vast majority of allergic dogs have fewer symptoms with proper care and treatment. What must not be forgotten is that allergy is a lifelong disease, and it is often crucial, through close collaboration and a good dialog with the veterinary, for the dog to get the best out of it.