As the owner of two dogs with allergies, we have a good impression of the causes, symptoms, and therapy and what you can do about it yourself. The goal should of course be that the dog owner can give his four-legged friend a comfortable and beautiful life despite allergies.
What Is It – An Allergy?
Just like in humans, an allergy means that the body shows an excessive defensive reaction to certain environmental substances that are harmless to others. In other words, allergies are an over-sensitivity of the body. There are also many different causes and triggers of allergic reactions in dogs.
Which Allergies are Most Common in Dogs?
First of all, allergies in dogs can be divided into three classes that occur in dogs: food allergy, flea saliva allergy, and environmental allergy. There are numerous types of allergies within the classes: flea allergy is the most common. Atopic dermatitis (environmental allergy) is less common and food allergy (e.g. grain allergy) occurs in third place. Grain allergies in particular can be combated simply by changing the feed, for example with the grain-free dog food from Bestesfutter. In summary, it can be said that the affected dog will not care about the statistics, it is important that they are handled correctly.
What are the Symptoms?
There are different symptoms and reactions that can be used to identify an allergy in dogs. Of course, the dog owner can only be absolutely sure if he has visited a veterinarian and had an allergy test carried out. This procedure is recommended in any case, as it is not expensive or complicated and protects the dog from misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment.
The easiest way to recognize an allergy in a dog is that it wears sore, scratched areas of skin on its body. Constant itching, scratching, and biting in the same places can therefore give the first indication and should be checked by the veterinarian. Chronically inflamed ears also indicate an allergy. In case of intolerance, triggered by a feed allergy, diarrhea, and general gastrointestinal problems can also occur.
If you ask yourself “Is my dog affected by an allergy?”, then first check the coat and skin for the above symptoms and if you are unsure, then go to the vet.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms:
- Scabbed, red skin with a moist film
- Strong urge to itch and scratch
- Inflamed ears that the animal constantly itches
- Digestive problems, diarrhea, and less often vomiting
- Swelling of the neck or paws
- Dog bites its hindquarters or the base of its tail
- Loss of hair and fur, often on spots or abdomen
Diagnosing Allergies – How Does it Work?
How are allergies actually diagnosed, you might be wondering right now. Our answer: At the vet. Because it should be ruled out in advance that other diseases and stresses on the immune system can be ruled out. Parasite infestation, i.e. worms, fleas, and mites, can cause similar symptoms and this should be clearly clarified and ruled out in advance.
In most cases, the veterinarian uses the elimination method here as well and will try to find evidence of the parasite infestation with a flea comb or skin scraping. For this purpose, the samples are examined in the laboratory with a microscope. Only then does the clinical examination usually follow?
A clinical examination can be done with blood tests and by injecting the allergen under the skin. If both allergy tests are carried out in combination, there is the highest hit rate. Only in the case of feed intolerance should the exclusion diet be used to examine whether the symptoms are changing over a longer period of time.
How much does a dog allergy test cost?
The prices for a dog allergy test vary, so here are only the guide values from 250 € to 700 €. On the one hand, it depends on how many allergens the dog is tested for and also on the fee charged by the veterinarian. There is no lump sum that applies to all examinations.
You can ask the vet about the cost of the allergy test in advance to avoid nasty surprises.
Which Breeds of Dogs are Particularly Prone to Allergies?
Overall, allergies are increasing in both dogs and humans. Changes in the environment, such as higher dust levels or industrial dog food, are certainly contributing to this. However, there are also problems with moderate breeds, for which the demand can only be met if “semi-professional” breeders reproduce their dogs without paying attention to genetic material and genes.
For example, a grain-free diet is recommended for the Dogue De Bordeaux and the Irish Setter, since Irish Setters are considered to be very sensitive to gluten. However, the latter is only scientifically based to a limited extent and therefore one can only make vague assumptions about the individual breeds.
Elimination Diet for Suspected Food Allergies – Makes Sense?
First of all, to clarify: With the help of the elimination diet, an attempt is made in the elimination process to find the food that is causing the allergy. Simplified, the dog is only offered one protein source (e.g. only chicken, only ostrich meat, or only horse) with additional carbohydrates for between 8 and 12 weeks and it is examined whether the body shows a positive or negative reaction to it. If the itching decreases here or diarrhea stops all of a sudden, you may have already found the source with which the immune system cannot cope and can delete it from the food list.
In the further course, you feed additional protein sources or other types of meat. Only one additional source should be added at intervals of two to three weeks so that the culprit can be identified. The be-all and end-all of an elimination diet is consistency.