Dog owners should learn to recognize dog allergy symptoms. In recent years there is increased incidence of allergic reactions. Being allergic means a person suffers a hypersensitive response to an allergen. An allergen can be any substance that is otherwise harmless.
When exposure to an allergen occurs, an antibody response is triggered in the immune system. With the next exposure, white blood cells wage war against the allergen. The severity may range from very mild to fatal. It can be the result of inhalation, skin contact, ingestion, injection, or absorption. This is true of both humans and animals.
The most common human response to allergens affects the upper respiratory tract. In dogs, sneezing and watery eyes may occur. But the most frequent, and serious, are skin conditions. They present as redness, rashes, and itching. As the animal scratches, bites, rubs, and chews the affected areas, infection is likely. Hair loss may be the result of infection, or from intense scratching. Hyperactive behaviours may also be seen.
Atopic allergies are the most common in dogs. It can be caused by airborne allergens. Ordinary items such as air fresheners, dust, smoke, mold, pollen, etc, can cause allergies. Some veterinarians believe it to be from a combination of airborne and skin contact sources. The presenting symptoms are the same with either source.
Contact dermatitis allergies are from direct skin contact with offending sources. Carpet fibers, grass, bushes, fabrics, lawn fertilizers, plastics, are possible allergens. Highly scented shampoos, or other topical applications may also cause allergic reactions.
Dogs do not have flea allergies. But they are allergic to a protein in flea saliva. However, those that are accustomed to fleas seem to have some degree of resistance to it. Those that are not accustomed, once exposed to them may develop sensitivity quickly. The bite areas become inflamed and itchy. Hair loss usually occurs.
People should refrain from sharing their food with pets. Many food items for humans are toxic to dogs. Grapes, raisins, chocolate, onion, and others can cause illness or death. All types of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and grains may be allergen sources. Some become allergic to dog food they have eaten for years. A good quality brand should be provided. Even then, hypersensitivity is possible. Manifestaton is with signs of itching anywhere on the dog. Anal itching may cause the dog to scoot on the carpet or lawn.
Other conditions, such as sarcoptic mange, may mimic signs of allergy. It is caused by mites which burrow under the skin, causing itching and rash. Treatment must be with specific medication that kills the mites. Cool baths may temporarily relieve many skin discomforts. For effective treatment, accurate diagnosis by a veterinarian must be made.