Do Pets Get Seasonal Allergies like People Do?

Spring is here and the flowers are blooming and the plants are coming to life.  Are you enjoying it or are your eyes watering and you’re sneezing?  Yes, allergy season is upon us.  Luckily, I only get mild symptoms, but for some, it’s a miserable time.

How about your pets do they get allergies?  Of course they do.  Grasses, insects, molds and weeds to name a few can lead your pet to scratch, bite and sometimes cause open sores on their bodies.

When my late dog Nikki was little, she used to scratch all the time and get hot spots.  I was a new dog owner and would literally follow her around to see where she was scratching and spray some medicine on it.  It got to the point that she would stop scratching when she saw me coming or would go out of site to scratch!  I was very annoying .  Around 4 years of age, she grew out of it and didn’t have any more problems with the hot spots.

The most common types of allergies in dogs are Food, Contact, Inhalant , Bacterial, and Flea Allergies.

Food Allergy

Pet food has come a long way to removing ingredients that pets can be allergic to such as corn, wheat and grains.  It is believed that if they are introduced to these too early of an age they may always be allergic to it.  Mold is sometime inherited with grains because they are stored for long periods of time in grain silos.  The symptoms from food allergies usually manifest themselves as digestive problems or skin problems.

To treat food allergies, you have to start by eliminating the food they’re eating and give them a chicken and rice diets (or whatever your vet recommends).  Vets can also prescribe hypoallergenic packaged dog food.  Slowly, one by one start adding in other foods.  Starting your pet out in life with a nutrient rich, holistic pet food may be your best defense to food allergies.

Contact Allergy

Contact Allergies are the least common type of allergies.  This is usually caused by a chemical such as flea products, disinfectants and even types of bedding such as beds filled with cedar.  To treat  a contact allergy is to remove the substance that’s causing it.  However, if it’s not readily apparen’t what the substance is, you might have to do some detective work.

Inhalant Allergy

Inhalant Allergies are triggered by the things we get allergies from, pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, mold, mildew and dust mites.  Instead of getting a runny nose and sneezing, dogs manifest their symptoms through their skin.  This can cause itching, scratching, shaking their heads or rubbing their ears or muzzle and licking.  Depending on what they are allergic to, symptoms could last for a few weeks for seasonal allergies or longer.

To find out what is causing the allergy, your pet can go through testing by injecting possible allergens, or do a blood test and send it to a lab so they determine what your pet is allergic to.

Treatments for Inhalant allergies  are:

Anti-Inflammatory therapy using steroids/cortisone.  This will block the allergic reaction in most cases.

Shampoo Therapy: Shampooing frequently with a hypo allergic or natural dog shampoo made for this reason can help considerably.  Antigens can be absorbed through the skin and it is thought that frequent shampooing can lessen the absorption and also quickly relieve the itching by removing surface antigens.

Hypo sensitization is basically allergy shots.  By giving your pet small amounts of the antigen, it’s hoped that weekly shots can retrain the body’s immune system to become desensitized and lessening the effects of the allergy substance.

Flea Allergy

By far flea allergies are the most common type.  To most dogs fleas are just a pain in the rump, but for some, it can cause intense itching and cause them to scratch until they have an open sore.  This in turn can cause other secondary infections.  If your dog in severely allergic by the fleas saliva, its best to remove all fleas.  Easier said than done.  There are several spot on medications you can purchase such as Frontline, however spot on flea medication has come under some scrutiny in the past months.  There are natural flea shampoos, and Diatomaceous Earth.   In some cases steroids can be prescribed.

Flea Allergy

Bacterial Allergy

Staph bacteria is common in dogs.  For some it’s not a problem, but if their immune system is comprised, it can become a severe problem and invade the deeper layers of the skin.  This infection is called pyoderma.  The symptoms are hair loss, raised circular lesions, flaky skin.  This staph infection can occur as a secondary infection from the scratching and itching from other allergic reactions.

The treatment is usually antibiotics, topical and oral medications.  Providing a natural, holistic pet food can bolster the immune system so that a staph infection can’t escalate.

Lola R. Steele

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