If your dog has an allergy it will often present itself in the form of scratching or licking which can lead to inflamed and reddened skin, or in more severe cases, open wounds and loss of fur. Ear infections are common in dogs with allergies and in some cases may be the only sign. Typically symptoms worsen as the animal age’s and so may not be evident in the younger years.

Dog allergies explained

There are different types of allergies but the major players include:

Atopy

Atopy is caused by environmental allergens that are inhaled or come into contact with the skin; commonly pollens, dust mites and mould.

Flea allergy dermatitis

Flea allergy dermatitis is caused by flea bites and in dogs and cats severely affected, just one flea bite can precipitate a nasty reaction.

Food allergies

Pets may have a range of food allergies, but symptoms usually manifest themselves in the form of skin irritation in contrast to food intolerances that result in vomiting and diarrhoea.

Contact allergies

Contact allergies are caused by something pets come into direct contact with such as carpet fibres or plastics from food bowls for example. These are often noted around the thinly haired areas of the muzzle or belly.

You Cheshire Vets can diagnose your pet’s allergy

Diagnosis of allergies can be complex and requires the ruling out of skin conditions caused by parasites e.g. sarcoptic mange (fox mange) or demodex. Yeasts and bacteria may exacerbate symptoms. The distribution of your pet’s skin complaint, along with the time of year they are affected and response to trial medication can give your vet a lot of information.

However, should they be severely or recurrently affected it is often worth investing in allergy testing. This can be done either with intradermal skin testing or with blood testing. The latter is less invasive and is increasingly accurate with tests more widely available.

Identification of specific allergens allows these to be avoided where possible and in the case of food allergies can make a huge difference in the dog’s wellbeing by a simple change to a diet their immune system will not react to. Such diets range from novel protein and carbohydrate sources in a purer form than some commercial diets, through to veterinary prescription diets that are specifically designed to prevent the body from recognising proteins and reacting to them.

For environmental allergens e.g. house dust mites and pollens, treatment can be tailored to suit the individual, including the use of shampoos, skin supplements, antihistamines, avoidance of allergens and environmental sprays. A further advancement is immunovaccines, which work to try to desensitise the body to the specified allergens over a long period of time.

These can be very effective in dogs, to the exclusion of all other treatments.
In many cases, however, treatment is multi-modal and may change depending on flare factors present at any given time. It is important to remember that these are often some of the most frustrating cases both for owners and vets, as they can be difficult to manage and quite debilitating for our furry friends.

Just call 01565 337999 or register online at Knutsford Vets if you think your pet may be suffering from an allergy.