Dog allergies can be defined as hypersensitivity to the exposure of allergens. Allergic reactions are caused by the immune system responses of the dog to combat the foreign particles such as pollens, dust mites, household dust, grass, and other particulate matters. Though canine allergy may often occur due to inhalation of allergens (contact allergy), other triggering factors include bacterial infestation, food allergy, and flea allergy.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
In majority of cases, the visible symptoms involve the skin. Hence, canine skin diseases are considered as the indicators of allergies. Other symptoms of canine allergies are more or less similar to nasal problems. Common signs of allergy other than skin irritation include running nose, red and itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Some pet dogs suffer from ear infections, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea as a result of allergic reactions.
Dogs in the age group of 3 - 5 years are at a higher risk of developing allergic reactions. Diagnosis of the same is done based on the symptoms, physical examination, and laboratory tests like blood tests and stool analysis. After correct identification, the vet may prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, corticosteroids, and other medications. For managing skin diseases, topical ointments and medicated shampoo are recommended.
The effectual home remedies for dog allergies vary depending upon the type of hypersensitivity reaction. If the dog manifests severe itching and scratching, chances are high that the pet is suffering from flea allergy. In another case, if the pet is showing symptoms after feeding, allergy to food items may be the root cause. Likewise, keep a watch over change in dog's behavior and health to identify the allergy type. Once the causal factor is confirmed, you can proceed with the appropriate remedial measures to alleviate the irritation symptoms.
Avoid Exposure to Allergens
Hypersensitivity reaction to environmental pollutants (pollens, dust) is a common trigger of canine allergy. This can be overcome by limiting exposure to the source. A simple approach is to let the pet stay indoors when the environmental allergens are present at a higher concentration (morning and evening). Make sure you vacuum clean the area where your pet plays most of the time, to kill dust mites and fleas.
Eliminate Allergenic Foods
Canine food allergy can be treated by changing the diet and/or avoiding the particular dog food items, which are responsible for causing the problem. In most instances, dogs are sensitive to protein (beef, chicken) and at times, carbohydrates (wheat, corn). So, while buying the pet's food, check the product label and choose the brand that contains a different source of protein and carbohydrates.
Make Dietary Changes
Crush about 1 - 2 cloves of garlic and add it in the dog's diet. While feeding excess garlic is bad for dogs, a low serving amount improves your pet's health. The flavor of this herb will help in repelling fleas. If the dog is allergic to food additives, replace them with other healthy dog food alternatives. Supplementing the dog's food with flaxseed oil and salmon oil will help in boosting immunity against contact allergens.
Follow Proper Hygiene
Maintaining proper hygiene is also very important for the sake of dog's health. The pet's bedding should be washed and dried every week. Preferably use an antibacterial soap for washing it. In addition, the lawn and backyard should also be kept clean in order to prevent fleas. Laying a clean plastic sheeting over the dog's favorite area will help in avoiding the dog's contact with the fleas.
Use a Medicated Shampoo
For the treatment of flea allergy, bathe the pet using a tearless medicated shampoo after diluting with lukewarm water (follow the usage directions). Gently rub the solution to all the body parts of the dog, excluding the nose, eyes, and mouth. Massage well, so as to remove fleas that are hidden within the fur. Also, bathe the pet dog regularly, at least once in a week to get rid of fleas.
Rosemary and Oatmeal
Another effective home remedy for flea allergy is to add 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary in one pint of boiling water. Allow the solution to stand for 15 minutes. Remove the rosemary leaves, and massage this rosemary water extract on the dog's coat after bathing. The same procedure can be followed by using a handful of ground oatmeal.
Allow the allergic dog to sit in a large tub, filled with soapy water. This will help in killing the fleas by drowning them. Rinse off the soap and towel dry your pet properly. Flea allergy can also be treated by using a solution of apple cider vinegar (an acid) mixed with water in an equal ratio. Rubbing the dog's skin with this mild acidic water for 2 - 3 times a day will help in repelling the fleas.
Over the Counter Medicine
Antihistamine medication sold over the counter should be given as the last resort for canine allergy treatment, i.e., when other natural remedies do not show satisfactory results. This therapeutic formulation suppresses the action of histamine, which is produced by the immune system at the time of allergies. The correct dosage would be 2 milligram for every two pounds weight of the pet.
Following the above simple home remedies will surely help in combating dog allergies and keep your pet healthy and playful. In case, your pet is scratching continuously even after adopting remedial measures, give a cold water bath, or wet a clean cloth with cold water and apply it over the irritated skin areas. The water will soothe the affected skin, thereby giving instant relief. This is just a temporary solution and a visit to the vet is recommended at the earliest possible date.