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Your dog is constantly itchy, scratching and chewing themselves to the point of hair loss. You've noticed red, inflamed skin, and perhaps a funky odor coming from your pet. It seems like they have more dandruff than usual.
Symptoms like these often have one common cause: allergies. And allergy symptoms are more than a nuisance. If not dealt with, allergies can have serious side effects like skin infections, permanent hair loss, or digestive issues.
Asking yourself, “What can I give my dog for allergies?” If you think your dog has allergies, it's best to set up an appointment with your veterinarian to get your pooch examined. The first step will be to rule out other possible causes of your dog's symptoms, like parasites or insect bites, and diagnose an allergic reaction. Working together, you can set up a treatment plan that includes one or more of the methods described below.
Let's take a look at different types of dog allergies and how to help your four-legged friend.
Generally, allergies in dogs are categorized into three groups: environmental allergies, food allergies, and flea allergies.
Environmental allergies, sometimes called seasonal allergies, involve allergic reactions to things like pollen, mold, dirt, or dust. In other words, things dogs come across in their environment, perhaps seasonally.
Food allergies are also relatively common, affecting about 10% of all dogs. When a dog has a food allergy, the immune system is reacting to an allergen that’s an ingredient in their dog food. Beef, chicken, dairy, soy, and wheat are common offenders.
Last but not least is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). A dog with FAD reacts to a protein in flea saliva, which causes intense itchy skin and excessive scratching.
Whether it's environmental or related to a dietary ingredient or a flea infestation, your dog's allergies will cause some noticeable symptoms. Symptoms of environmental allergies include:
Symptoms of food allergies include:
Symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis include:
Talk to your vet if you notice these symptoms of allergies. Your dog may need to undergo allergy testing so that treatment can start. Here's the good news: Dog allergies are treatable.
No one likes to see their beloved pet suffer. So how can you give your dog some allergy relief?
Depending on what your veterinarian recommends, there are options like over-the-counter medications, DIY remedies, diet changes, and prescription medications.
You can safely use many over-the-counter medicines for your dog's allergies, especially for environmental allergies. Just get your veterinarian's approval first. Don't give your dog an over-the-counter medication designed for humans unless you have the express permission of a veterinary professional.
The most commonly used antihistamine for dogs is something called diphenhydramine. You probably know it by its brand name, Benadryl. Benadryl is safe for most dogs when given in the proper dosage.
Other over-the-counter antihistamines can work for dogs, too. Loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine, chlorpheniramine, and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are a few examples. Again, you need to check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication made for humans.
Natural remedies are most often helpful when your dog suffers from environmental allergies, and they can also help while your dog is recovering from flea allergy dermatitis.
Apple cider vinegar is a natural anti-inflammatory and has anti-bacterial properties as well. You can add diluted apple cider vinegar to your dog's food (use the ratio of one-third apple cider vinegar to two-thirds water). If your dog doesn't like the taste, you can apply the diluted solution to your pet's skin.
Native Pet's all-natural Allergy Chicken Chews can help make allergy management easy. These chews help to build your dog's natural defense against allergens, and they even aid in long-term immune system support.
Changing your dog's diet is particularly helpful for food allergies, but it can help to treat or manage other kinds of allergies as well, like environmental allergies.
If your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy, you and your veterinarian can do a food trial or elimination diet. This involves switching foods in and out of your dog's diet to find out what they react to. Then, you can change your dog's food to one without the ingredient that they react to. (These foods are known as limited-ingredient diets or hypoallergenic diets.) Learn more about allergy testing in dogs here.
You might also consider adding a dietary supplement to your pet’s diet. Because allergy symptoms tend to get worse when the digestive system's microbiome (the mix of good and bad bacteria in the gut) is out of balance, a probiotic supplement can be helpful. A probiotic like Native Pet's probiotic powder reintroduces good bacteria to the gut in order to create a thriving environment for healthy flora. This helps regulate digestive health and keep allergy symptoms to a minimum, and it boosts the immune system to help keep allergic responses at bay.
An omega-3 fatty acid supplement is another good option, as well as fish oil supplements (which contain high levels of omega-3). Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and nourish your dog's skin and coat. Plus, they help comfort and mobility by reducing pain and inflammation in the joints. Try Native Pet's Omega Oil — it can help reduce itching and scratching and alleviate joint pain at the same time.
When options like over-the-counter antihistamines, natural at-home remedies like aloe baths, dietary changes, and supplementation don't work, it may be time for prescription allergy treatment. And while steroids like prednisone used to be the only kind of medications available for dog allergy treatment, we now have many more options.
Apoquel is one example of a prescription allergy relief drug that many pet parents find effective. It's given orally and takes effect in only a few hours. Many veterinarians and dog owners prefer it over Atopica, another oral option that causes side effects like loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea in some dogs. Ask your vet what kind of oral medication might work best for your dog.
In addition to oral medications, there are allergy shots or injections that work to reduce allergy symptoms and enhance your dog's natural allergy defense. Cytopoint is one example; it targets the histamines in your dog's body that makes them itchy.
Consult your vet to find out whether injectable allergy treatment might be the solution for your pet. Note: Allergy shots are most often used for environmental allergies and sometimes for food allergies.
If your dog has flea allergy dermatitis, they may need a combination of antihistamines and corticosteroids as well as a quality flea control product to prevent flea bites. Your vet will help guide you through the treatment process for flea allergy dermatitis.
Symptoms like constant itchiness and excessive scratching, inflamed skin, hot spots, skin odor, and hair loss are often caused by allergies. Environmental allergies and seasonal allergies, flea allergies, and food allergies could be behind your dog's symptoms.
Still wondering, “What can I give my dog for allergies?” Talk to your veterinarian about the best route. Options include:
What works best for your dog will ultimately depend on your dog's particular type of allergies and what your veterinarian recommends. In most cases, you can treat dog allergies so your pup lives a normal, happy life.
For more tips about your dog's health and wellness, check out the Native Pet blog.
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