Itching Dog!? How To Tell If Your Pooch Has an Allergy

An itching dog is a miserable dog. Itching in dogs is a fairly common problem yet many dog owners know little about it. All too often, the problem is an allergy. And an allergy is always unpleasant whether in a human or in a dog. An allergenic reaction can be mild or severe, depending on the cause and the degree of sensitivity. A common reaction to canine allergies is swelling and itchy skin. If untreated, itchy skin that is constantly scratched will become infected. The infection will have to be treated.

Dog Itchy Skin

At first glance, an allergy in a dog can be mistaken as a flea infestation. After all, this is often the case with a dog itch. All dog owners have something to control dog fleas. So the first thought when seeing a dog itch is to reach for the handy flea power, or whatever you might use. But, is the problem really fleas? Fleas are very small, but they can be seen with a magnifying glass. So, first, look for fleas. If you don't see fleas, then perhaps the dog itch is an allergy. The reaction of a dog with fleas is not necessarily the same as a dog's reaction to an allergy. Flea itching tends to be shorter bursts of itching, while itching from an allergy tends to be more continuous. Mind you, this is a broad over-generalization and may not hold true to your dog. Another factor is that itching is sometimes present with other symptoms.

The following symptoms are the most common. They include:

  • Constant scratching

  • Licking and chewing, especially the paws

  • Discharges from the eyes and nose

  • Rubbing the face or ears

  • Swelling

  • Unusual hair loss

  • Red armpits and abdomen

  • Coughing and wheezing

  • Vomiting

  • Increased number of daily bowel movements (say three instead of one)

  • Diarrhea, and

  • New behavior or negative temperament changes

You must keep in mind that while these are symptoms associated with allergies, dog itchy skin can be a symptom for a variety of other more dangerous diseases. These other diseases must be ruled out before attempting to determine a food allergen. So, if they occur it may be time to visit the vet.
Also be aware that chronic dog itching that is untreated over a length of time will develop into a skin infection.

Dog Food Allergies

Dog food allergies usually come as a surprise to most dog owners as most are unaware that dogs can develop a allergy. Well, dogs can and do develop allergies, including dog food allergies.

Symptoms of Dog Food Allergies

When a dog develops sensitivity to a substance, whether food, airborne or environmental, that substance is referred to as an "allergen." Some folks refer to the problem as ' dog food skin allergies', but that is misleading because it is not skin allergies, it is dog food allergies. Common reactions to allergens might include, but are not limited to scratching, coughing, wheezing, and discharges from the eyes and nose. Dog food allergies are specifically associated also with vomiting, increased number of daily bowel movements (say, three instead of one) and also with diarrhea. Of course, dog food allergies symptoms vary from dog to dog.

Dealing with any food allergy usually involves three steps. These are the easing of the symptoms, treating any skin infections, and identifying and eliminating the allergen.

Dry Dog Food

While many dogs do very well with dry dog food, nevertheless it is a common cause of dog food allergies. Some species of dog do not tolerate dry dog food well. For these species, dry dog food is more difficult to digest and it is much more prone to triggering an allergenic reaction. The allergen is usually a common problem food such as milk, soy, corn, wheat or eggs, or a chemical preservative. Sometimes an easy switch from a dry dog food to dog food in a tin may be all that is required. In other cases, its not that easy and considerable effort must be taken to isolate the exact allergen so it can be completely avoided in the future. Whatever steps are necessary are worth the effort as the elimination of the allergen will often reveal a much happier dog with an improved disposition and mood.

Dog Food for Dogs With Allergies

So, what to feed a dog with food allergies? Is there an allergy free dog food? While the search for the offending allergen can be difficult, at other times a simple change in diet is all that is needed to dramatically improve the symptoms and to effectively stave off dog food allergies. The fact is that many times, dog food allergies can be completely avoided by simply providing your dog with species-appropriate food. However, the elimination of dog food allergies it is not always so simple. An allergy free dog food for your pooch may or may not be apparently available. So, what is an allergy-free dog food? The best dog food for allergies is one that does not have the one offending allergen your dog finds troublesome. Of course, this could be any one of many foods or additives. Any one of the most common dog food allergies may not be the one that is causing the problem. However, the more common foods and additives are a good place to start.

Dogs food allergies are certainly a growing problem. Some folks try to cook specifically for their canine companion only to find their companion has developed homemade dog food allergies. This is really the same problem, one allergen causing trouble. When a dog has an allergy caused from food, it doesn't matter if the cause is with homemade or commercial chow. Again, if a simple switch to a "safe" species-appropriate dog food doesn't do the trick, then the lone allergen must be identified and eliminated. Some folks will hunt for "dog food for allergies." Again, it is not necessarily a matter of finding correct recipes. Some "safe' recipes may not be effective for your dog. If that is the case, it is a matter of finding the lone allergen causing the problem and eliminating it from the dog's diet. That is the trick in dealing with dog food allergies successfully.

Dog Skin Allergies

Dog skin allergies are common in dogs. At first, a skin allergy, called atopy, is usually mistaken as a flea infestation. Itching from fleas and itching from an allergy can certainly look the same. It is only when you look closer that you realize there are no fleas. As with humans, irritated skin is a symptom of an allergy. However, there are many other allergy symptoms, especially with food allergies. In this article we discuss only dog skin allergies. Sometimes a canine skin allergy will be caused by an airborne allergen. A common airborne allergen is the most notorious dust mite!

Our houses are filled with dust mites. They are very small creatures that live in our carpets, beds and other soft furnishings. These small creatures feed on human skin flakes that constantly fall from human bodies. These creatures then litter our environment with hard to see fecal pellets. It is these minute fecal pellets that contain the troublesome allergens that affect dogs. Have you sometimes wondered why you sneeze inside your house? More than likely you are responding to dust mite pellets. Dogs respond to the same allergens with itchy skin. In many dogs this is a minor irritant. However, sometimes it can become a major problem. Of course there are many other causes for a dog having itchy skin. Other environmental allergens can exist concurrently or separately from allergies to airborne particles. Veterinarians can conduct sensitivity testing to identify a troublesome allergen.

For treatment, dogs are sometimes given oral medications, although traditionally side effects have always been a problem, so whatever is given must be administered very carefully. Infected skin may need antibiotics. Cortisone tablets may also be recommended. In some cases, an antihistamine will be recommended if your dog has developed asthma, or to support other medication. Each case is different. Sometimes a veterinarian will recommend a hyposensitizing vaccine series, or "allergy shots" that are formulated to your pet's specific needs. Very small doses are started and are gradually increased so the dog's body will slowly get used to these allergens. The dog will need to get a daily shot, administered by the dog's owner, family member, or the dog might have to be transported to the vet, daily. Needless to say, this can be expensive. Also, only about 60% of dogs will eventually show permanent positive results.

In almost all cases, a medicated dog shampoo can be used to stop discomfort and stop the spread of any skin infection that might have taken hold. Infected skin may need washed with medicated dog shampoo as often as twice a week until conditions improve. When washing your dog make sure to use cool water (not hot, not warm and not ice cold) when you bathe your dog.

While a canine food allergy can be cured by identifying a specific food allergen and then eliminating it from the dog's diet, skin allergies from airborne allergens are more a matter of controlling the symptoms than actually curing the allergy. In dealing with Dog skin allergies from airborne allergens patience is required as you should expect set-backs along the way. However, with some trial-and-error with different treatment methods, eventually your dog should respond favorably to a treatment and become a comfortable and contented pooch.

Allergies In Dogs

A dog's environment including the air and a dog's food are possible sources of allergies in dogs. An allergy is an acquired sensitivity. Our lives have become ever more filled with an ever-growing number of things that can cause allergies. As allergies are becoming more common in humans, so they are also becoming more common in dogs. In fact, dogs are in a position to become more affected by many contaminants in our environment than are humans. This is because dogs walk barefoot or bare paw, and their heads are at a distance that is much closer to ground level than humans. Also, dogs sniff whatever they find on the ground. Conversely, us humans wear shoes and we walk upright, at a much higher level from the ground level. I might also add that humans as a rule do not sniff everything in sight. Thus so, it is only natural that dogs might be exposed to a wider range of environmental contaminants, certainly those on the ground.

What Causes Allergies In Dogs?

An allergy is a reaction to a substance, called an allergen. Therefore, allergens can be thought of as the cause of allergies. (Technically this is not correct, but lets not split hairs.) Allergens can be a wide range of natural substances or unnatural substances. In a manner of speaking, the skin 'breathes in' or absorbs substances and 'breathes out' or eliminates small qualities of toxins through the skin. If the substance being eliminated has become an allergen, then the skin will react and become irritated by swelling and/or itching. Dogs can also become prone to asthma, just like a human. This is a swelling of the inner lining of the airways, which becomes irritated. Breathing could become more difficult. They can have bouts of coughing and wheezing, just like humans. However, the most common form of allergies in dogs is skin irritation. This is usually in the form of skin itching but can also include other specific problems.

Dog Allergies - An Introduction

Dog allergies are not always obvious. You look down at your dog and he scratches and licks and bites himself. Your first thought is to grab the flea powder thinking that it's a new flea infestation. But is it? Is your dog allergic to something you don't know about? Just like humans, dogs can suffer from all types of allergies. The truth is that allergies in dogs are common. It is thought that one in five dogs suffer from some form of allergy. Most dog owners are only casual observers of their pet. And a casual appraisal of their dog's itching usually leads to the flea power. However, a closer look might show something different.

I should be clear in stating that not all dogs are prone to allergies. In fact many dogs will live out their lives free of allergies. That said, the age of a dog is an important factor. Normally, a dog over one year old will be more prone to an allergy than a dog under one year old. Also, older dogs seem to be subject to allergies more often than younger dogs. So for example, a dog that is eight years old is more likely to be affected by an allergy than a dog three years old. Also, pure-line species dogs seem to be subject to allergies more often than mixed-species dogs. Nevertheless, all of these factors are quite variable as there is no hard and fast rule. The truth is that while all dogs are not prone to allergies, any dog can come down with Dog allergies