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This is the most comprehensive guide to knowing if your dog has allergies and how to treat them.
How To Tell If Your Dog Has Food Allergies
Dogs can be allergic to hundreds of allergens, and pinpointing the source can be difficult if you don’t know where to look. Because the two conditions can cause similar symptoms, many people experience allergy symptoms with other illnesses.
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For example, if your dog constantly itches or licks or has patches of skin that don’t look normal, your pup may have developed a skin infection from parasites such as fleas, ticks or non-allergic diseases. Also, seasonal dog allergies, dog food allergies, and other environmental factors (ie, dust and pollen) can also cause itching and skin problems in dogs. Still confused? Don’t be!
Today we cover all types of dog allergies and their symptoms, causes and treatment so you can easily find out if your dog is having an allergic reaction.
We also show you how to help with dog allergies, what to give your dog for allergies and when to visit the vet. Let’s get started!
Allergies in dogs are defined as a condition of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity in which the immune system responds to a certain substance called an “allergen”. The allergen can be any substance (ie food, dust, oils, dust mites, animals, insect bites). Therefore, it is difficult to tell the origin of your dog’s allergies.
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When an allergen enters or comes into contact with your dog’s body, it triggers an inflammatory response that prompts your dog’s immune system to “start defending against the intruder.” Symptoms are your dog’s body working to get rid of the intrusive allergen. Allergens can be eaten, inhaled or touched.
Dogs are not born with allergies, but the tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary. However, most allergies in dogs develop after repeated exposure to the allergen. This process is known as sensitization, and it occurs when the immune system identifies a harmless substance (allergen) as a threat. Subsequent exposure to the same or a related substance causes the immune system to overreact and eventually become allergic, says WCA Hospital.
A weakened immune system exposed to allergens also plays a role in the development of allergies. Allergies in dogs can be harmful if left untreated and can lead to secondary infections, illness and even death in severe cases.
Can dogs be allergic? Yes, allergies in dogs are common in the United States and are the number one reason dog parents go to the vet. According to CNN, 10% of all dogs suffer from allergies.
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And, about 1-2% of all dogs have food allergies, and 25% of dogs with skin problems have food allergies.
What can dogs be allergic to? Allergies are a multifactorial thing in pets, meaning most dogs are allergic to more than one thing.
Below, we will talk about each type of dog allergy in more detail. We explain their causes, differences, specific symptoms to look for, treatment and prevention so you know what type of allergy your pup is suffering from. Click here to go to this section.
, 10% of all allergy cases are food allergies. So food is most likely the culprit behind your furry friend’s allergies. Dogs are often allergic to beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. Rabbit and fish are less allergenic foods than the others.
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Seasonal allergies, environmental and skin allergies are also major causes, with insect allergies and acute allergy being less common but more dangerous.
It can be difficult to determine whether your dog has an allergy or a non-allergic condition because the symptoms are often very similar.
Like humans, many substances can be allergens, and every dog is allergic to different things. The cause of dog allergies will depend on the type of dog allergy. Below, we break down each type to better understand what your dog may be experiencing.
Remember that it is quite common for dogs to have allergies and bacterial skin infections at the same time. It is therefore a good idea to seek veterinary care if you suspect a skin infection, as treatment may differ depending on the type of infection.
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Other breeds include Pugs, Maltese Terriers, Pekingese, Bichon Frize, German Shepherds, Pitbulls, Yorkies, Poodles, among others. However, any dog of any breed (or mixed breed) can be allergic. The age of onset is generally between 6 months and 3 years. The signs are seasonal, but can be seen all year round.
Diagnosing dog allergies can be done by examining the most common symptoms, dog allergy testing, intradermal skin testing, blood testing and an elimination diet.
Usually, the most common sign of dog allergies is itching and scratching. The most affected areas are the dog’s legs, face, ears, front legs and belly. Itching can be localized (in one area) or generalized (over the whole body). If the allergy is not treated, constant scratching can lead to secondary wounds, scabies, skin and ear infections, hair loss, atopic dermatitis and scaling.
The easiest way to find out if your dog has allergies is to look for the most common signs of allergic reactions in dogs. Among others:
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Note: If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, do not attempt to diagnose your dog without professional veterinary assistance. Allergy symptoms can be confused with or coexist with other disorders. Your veterinarian should do a full evaluation to rule out other health problems that are causing these symptoms before diagnosing your pup with allergies.
The next most convenient way to find out what allergens are causing your pet’s distress is with home dog allergy testing kits.
You should not use allergy testing to diagnose dog allergies, but as a useful tool that you and your veterinarian can use to formulate a specific immunotherapy treatment program that will prevent ingestion or exposure to potential allergens that could harm your dog.
Another way to find out if your dog has allergies is a dog allergy skin test, also known as a skin prick test or intradermal skin test.
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This test is performed by a veterinary dermatologist, which can be expensive. Intradermal tests are considered the “gold standard” for determining the cause of atopic dermatitis. Your dog needs anesthesia and a haircut.
When your pup is asleep, dermatologists will inject small amounts of potential allergens into the surface of the skin and monitor the injection sites for allergic reactions. A positive reaction may occur immediately or may take 5-20 minutes. If there is no reaction, it is likely that your puppy is allergic to the substance. A typical reaction looks like a small hive with swelling and redness if the test is positive.
Blood allergy testing for dogs looks for immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in the blood to a particular food or other allergen. The higher the IgE level, the more likely your puppy is allergic to that particular food or allergen. Blood tests can be less accurate than skin tests, but they are safer because a single blood sample is taken and sent to a reference laboratory for analysis. Unlike skin tests, no allergens are introduced to your dog, so there is no risk of an allergic reaction.
An elimination diet is used to diagnose or rule out food allergies. It consists of giving a hypoallergenic, hydrolyzed or new diet for 8-12 weeks.
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All this means is that during this process you will switch your dog’s food to one that he has never eaten before. For example, if your dog eats a chicken-based diet, you should use another protein source, such as salmon or lamb.
An elimination diet should include a new protein source and a single carbohydrate source. An ideal weaner diet should be balanced and nutritionally complete, and should not contain any ingredients that have been previously fed to your dog. Treatments should also be discontinued.
The test diet should be fed for 3 months and see if itching or other symptoms stop. At this stage, if symptoms still remain after 12 weeks of food withdrawal, food may not be behind your dog’s allergies, and it’s best to let your vet know.
The next phase is the reintroduction phase, where you will slowly return to your original diet to confirm a possible food allergy. Gradually reintroduce the old food over 3-5 days and watch for symptoms (ie itching, licking) to reappear, which should return in 14 days. If your puppy has no symptoms during the reintroduction period, you can assume his diet is good And move on to the next food group.
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However, if his original food causes negative symptoms as mentioned above, you have successfully identified a trigger food and should remove it from your dog’s diet.
How to tell if your dog is having an allergic reaction depends on the type of allergy he is suffering from.
Allergy symptoms in dogs can be very similar or vary greatly depending on the allergen, so they are often confused with other diseases. In general, if you notice your dog scratching a lot, or if you see hives or redness on the skin, it could be an allergy. It is essential to recognize all types of dog allergies and treat their symptoms differently when they occur.
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