How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Allergies?
Allergies in dogs generally fall under three categories – flea allergies, environmental allergies and, less commonly, food allergies. If your dog is itchy it could be a sign of one of these allergies - 10 of the most common symptoms of allergies in dogs are:
1. Itchy or red skin
2. Hair loss or scaly skin
3. Excessive scratching or licking
5. Swelling around the face, ears or eyes
8. Unpleasant odours from skin, coat or ears
9. Sore, runny eyes
10. Changes in appetite.
Environmental Allergies in Dogs
Dust, dust mites, mould, pollen and grass are amongst the most common environmental allergies, so rolling around in the grass is going to leave your dog with more you bargained for. Often the more your dog is exposed to allergens, the more severe the allergic response becomes so without diagnosis and treatment it will become worse.
Signs that your dog is suffering from an environmental allergy may include lesions on the underside or top of the feet, itchy skin, sore runny eyes, sneezing, and inflammation or areas of hair loss. Occasionally you may also see respiratory symptoms in your dog as a result of seasonal allergies like hayfever.
Diagnosing and Treating Environmental Allergies in Dogs
The most common way of identifying this type of allergy in dogs is testing (where a small amount of an allergen is injected under the skin). Lifestyle changes like walking in different areas to avoid grass may also help you to identify allergens by a process of elimination.
Your vet may suggest steroids if your dog has really itchy and uncomfortable skin as it can provide welcome relief from the allergy symptoms – but be aware that there are side effects which can impact your dog’s health in other ways such as high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Antibiotics may be recommended if your vet feels there is a secondary infection as a result of your dog’s itching, licking and chewing.
Symptomatic relief for environmental allergies can be given in the form of antihistamines for dogs (for example Benadryl) to reduce itching – but you should always check with your vet before giving over the counter medication.
Again, supplementary nutraceuticals like Omega3 essential fatty acids can also help to maintain the natural anti-inflammatory actions of the dog’s body and reinforce the skin’s barrier.