You might be wondering why your dog gets a dull coat or even hair loss despite quality feeding? Or why is he constantly scratching himself even though no parasite infestation can be detected? Some dog owners even observe changes in the nature of their fur noses, which appear to occur suddenly and without reason. Not many dog owners associate these and similar symptoms with a dog allergy. An allergy is a disease of the immune system from which more and more four-legged friends are suffering.
Recognizing and understanding dog allergies in good time
Did you know that around one in five dogs suffers from an allergy? Ascending trend. The reasons for this alarming development are manifold and cross-allergies with diverse symptoms make a clear diagnosis difficult. In order to properly understand dog allergies, it is first important to uncover the possible sources of the cause. These include, among other things, environmental pollution, feed intolerance Intolerance, and allergy is medically completely different!! This is also the reason for the enormous number of allergy sufferers lately… So: An allergy is a hypersensitive reaction caused by the immune system.
Intolerances are hypersensitivity reactions that are not caused by the immune system. e.g. B. by a lack of enzymes, metabolic diseases, or additives that can trigger hypersensitivity reactions. Certain components of food cannot be digested. but also race-specific dispositions.
Dog allergy – what is it?
Veterinary medicine, like human medicine, understands “allergy” to be an innate tendency of the body to react to certain substances with a pathological reaction. These substances are actually harmless to the animal. In the event of external (skin, respiratory tract) or oral contact (ingestion), the misguided immune system classifies these substances as toxic or intolerable and reacts with a defensive response, putting the entire body on alert. Substances that trigger such an immune reaction are called allergens.
Skin diseases in dogs are often equated with allergies. Although dog allergy belongs to the field of skin diseases, this generalization is not correct. Skin diseases in dogs require a more precise differentiation.
What are the most common dog allergies?
The most common dog allergies include environmental allergies, parasite allergies, and food allergies.
When does a dog have an allergy?
When and if an allergy will break out cannot be predicted. As a rule, it takes the dog to have repeated or prolonged contact with the allergen for an allergy to become manifest. This usually only happens when the dog is two or three years old. Food intolerances, on the other hand, can occur in dogs of any age. Allergies and food intolerance are easy to get under control as long as you know the cause.
On the trail of dog allergies and food intolerance
The symptoms at a glance:
- Monitor your dog closely for a few weeks. Does he scratch certain parts of his body all the time?
- Does he even have sore patches of skin that he constantly licks?
- Does he regularly have gastrointestinal problems, maybe even diarrhea and vomiting?
- Does he suffer from ear infections or other sources of inflammation skin edema and swelling?
All of these can be serious signs of one or even more allergies. If you suspect a dog allergy, it is best to consult a veterinarian who specializes in allergies or an animal hospital.
Describe to the vet all the symptoms that you have noticed in your four-legged friend over a longer period of time. Keep in mind that flea saliva allergies and some contact allergies can occur seasonally or at intervals. Feel free to make videos, as the animals in the treatment room often do not show their natural behavior.
When the animal suffers greatly, its character changes! If your “cuddly dog” doesn’t let you touch him or scratch his head or ears, or maybe even responds aggressively when you come near him, then this can be due to an allergy that has existed for a long time.
What can the vet do to diagnose an allergy in dogs?
There are several ways a veterinarian can diagnose an allergy in a dog.
- Blood test
- Allergy test (intracutaneous test)
- An elimination diet (favorite for food allergies and intolerances)
- Clinical exclusion procedure/exclusion diagnostics
Experience in veterinary diagnostics has shown that blood tests and intradermal tests (tests under the skin) alone do not provide reliable information on the dog’s allergy status.
Finally, the veterinarian makes the diagnosis using the clinical process of elimination, gradually excluding those diseases that are accompanied by the same symptoms. Blood tests and allergy tests can provide additional clues for the diagnosis.
If intolerance to feeding is suspected, an elimination diet is prescribed. At first, you only feed meat that your dog has never eaten or only sporadically eaten. This can be, for example, horse or ostrich meat with a side dish of carbohydrates. If the dog’s symptoms improve during this strict diet, then other ingredients are gradually added in order to determine the cause of the symptoms. This diet should definitely be accompanied by an expert in order to identify undesirable side effects or deficiency symptoms in good time.
Treatment options for a dog allergy: the avoidance strategy!
The veterinarian can first give your four-legged friend medication to relieve the acute symptoms.
However, once the trigger of your dog’s allergy – the allergen – has been found, avoidance is the best medicine!
In the case of a contact, mite, or flea saliva allergy, action is taken against the cause itself, and fleas, mites, or allergy-causing substances are removed or killed from the dog’s environment.
If your dog’s allergy is an intolerance to individual ingredients in dog food such as certain proteins, gluten, or carbohydrate sources, the feeding must be changed in a targeted and consistent manner.
The following are suitable for conversion:
- Hypoallergenic dog food from specialist shops that is free of contamination (PCR test).
- Hydrolyzed diets: Amino acids in the food are broken down into molecular components so that the allergic dog’s immune system does not recognize and attack them.
- BARF: Raw feeding consists mainly of raw meat and vegetables, which are enriched with minerals and additives according to the dog’s individual needs.
The advantage of BARFing lies in the natural components – meat, vegetables, fruit – which make up the main part of the menu. In order to avoid nutritional errors that could cause deficiency symptoms, get advice from a veterinarian specializing in animal nutrition, trained animal health practitioners or veterinarians and draw up a feeding plan.
Finally, factors to consider:
- Your four-legged friend’s special diet must be followed for at least 8 to 10 weeks before its effects can be assessed.
- The selected food must only contain ingredients to which your dog is not allergic.
- The feed should be free of preservatives and other by-products.
- Be consistent – no exceptions are allowed! This is especially true for the choice of treats.
- A dog allergy cannot be cured, but with the right treatment, allergy dogs can lead a long and symptom-free life!