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  • Jennifer Misfeldt, MABTR

Options for Treating a Dog with Allergies

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds and need to be addressed. Ignoring such condition is discomforting and sometimes painful to our four-legged friends. For a dog the most common symptom associated with allergies is itching of the skin, either localized (in one area) or generalized (all over the body). In some cases, the symptoms involve the respiratory system, with coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from eyes or nose, hair loss, ear and skin infections. In other cases, the allergic symptoms affect the digestive system resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.

Something so common you've probably witnessed your dog doing it every day, and ignored it, telling yourself it's "natural" and they are "just grooming". In fact, there is always reason for a dog to lick their paws.

You should not wait to see a vet until your dog is miserable, because to get him back to comfort, it will cost you more money and take longer to see a resolution.

There are three types of allergies (your dog can have one of the following or a combination).

1. Food allergy is most commonly developed in response to protein of the food of a particular food origin. Dairy products, beef, wheat gluten, chicken, chicken eggs, lamb, and soy are commonly associated with food allergies in dogs. -Treatment requires identifying the offending component(s) of the diet and eliminating them. One simple way is purchasing a grain free, single meat diet. Single meat should be a non-common protein such as rabbit, venison, bison, and turkey. Stay away from common protein such as chicken, beef and fish. This includes fish oil tabs you may be given your dog. -Identifying root cause: changing a diet needs time to determine results. Because it takes at least eight weeks for all other food products to be eliminated from the body, the dog must eat the special diet exclusively for eight weeks. -this includes removing all treats and digestible chew toys

2. Environmental allergies can be outdoor allergens like ragweed, grasses and pollen, as well as indoor irritants like mold, dust mites, cleaning chemicals and even fabrics like wool or cotton. -As a general rule, if your dog is allergic to something inside your home, he'll have year-round symptoms. If he's reacting to something outdoors, it could very well be a seasonal problem. Dogs with environmental allergies should be wiped down every night with a cool wash cloth and bathed every week to two weeks. Remember that allergens stick to the dog's coat until wiped off.

-Indoor: Simple ways to identify root cause is first give your dog a bath with an oatmeal shampoo and wash (minus fabric sheets) all their bedding including collar/harness, clothing and toys. * Change bedding from cotton to fleece

* Remove air fresheners from the home including powder that may be laid on the carpet before vacuuming

* Remove conditioners and perfumes used on the dog

-Outdoor: Simple ways to identify root cause is first give your dog a bath with an oatmeal shampoo and wash (minus fabric sheets) all their bedding including collar/harness, clothing and toys.

*It is critical to bathe your dog weekly and wipe him down with a cool wash daily as allergens will continue to snowball until the next bath.

*Give your dog an antihistamine. Over-the-counter can include Benedryl or Zyrtec (consult with your vet on dosages); however, they will not work in all cases. A step-up is a prescription from your vet that can include a cytopointe injection, apoquel or predison.

3. Flea allergy dermatitis is actually sensitivity to flea saliva. It's not the bite of the flea that causes most of the itching in dogs; it's the saliva. This does not mean your dog has fleas in order to have flea dermatitis.

-Treatment: A soothing bath will kill any fleas on your dog if they exist, help heal skin irritation, and make her feel more comfortable and less itchy.

-Keeping the dog on flea preventative and making sure his environment is flea free

When should I give my dog a bath and how often? The answer varies. Ask yourself where your dog has been, walked and rolled in, then remind yourself he is coming into your home, into your bed and on your furniture bringing long anything on his feet and coat.

*Soaking your dog’s feet in Epsom salt can also provide relief.

When your dog should get bathed:

· After a visit to the dog park, dog event, lake, or forest

· After swimming

· After a visit to doggie daycare or boarding

· After rolling on the ground where a rabbit, rodent or worms laid.

If licking continues after a bath it could be one or more of the following items. Do not just assume behavior. Always weed out medical concerns.

1. allergies – food or/and environmental - number one cause for most dogs

2. a bad tooth

3. yeast infection

4. side affect to medication

5. discomfort, body ache, or pain – not specific to pain in the foot but other places on the body. This action takes their mind off the pain

6. anxiety - comforting motion

7. blister, cut, or cyst on the foot – could be a silver (foreign object) in the foot

8. broken or torn nail

Remember your dog cannot talk so you need to read the signs given to you and react.


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