Does your dog lick its paw or leg? Do they scratch their shoulders, neck, or ears with their hind leg? Or do they bite at their skin with their front teeth trying to scratch a seemingly never-ending itch? Itching caused by dog allergies can be localized to one or a few specific spots or affect the entire body. In some cases, allergy symptoms can include sneezing and coughing or even diarrhea and vomiting.
What Causes Dog Allergies in Zion, IL?
Dog allergies in Zion, IL are caused by an over-reactive or hypersensitive response of the immune system to an allergen. In dogs, most allergens come from proteins found in animals, insects, plants, and even dog food of all quality levels.
A dog’s immune system protects them from disease and infection by mounting a response to bacteria and viruses that invade their bodies. If a dog eats something that they should not, perhaps a bug or toxic plant, their immune response could save their lives. But with dog allergies, the immune response is a long-term situation that can be harmful to them.
Most dogs will not react to a particular allergen the first few or several times they are exposed. Their immune system simply deals with the irritant without any warning sign at all. Over time as the allergen is frequently or continually introduced, the dog’s immune system can become hypersensitized to it and eventually over-react. This is when symptoms will become noticeable, and dog owners will start to look for answers.
It can be challenging to determine the exact source of the allergen. Many dog owners will try to think of something new in their dog’s lives. Maybe a change of food, or washing the dog’s blanket in a new detergent, or a change in dog parks caused this sudden onset of allergic reactions. But the truth is that it may take up to a year for an allergen to sensitize the immune system and manifest into symptoms we can see.
Contact allergies are the least common allergy type in dogs. Contact allergies can develop over time to almost anything and at any age. Pesticides found in flea collars and lawn care products, some grasses and trees, and materials like wool or synthetics found in carpets or bedding are common allergens. This type of allergen is indicated by irritation and itching at common contact points such as the feet and stomach.
The Allergic Reaction in Detail
The immune response to an allergen is complicated, but we will simplify it a bit here. Most common allergens in Zion, IL in dogs come in the form of protein molecules combined with antibodies in the dog’s bloodstream. There is no specific protein that causes this reaction as each dog reacts differently to various protein sources. Once the protein molecule is attached to the antibody, they adhere to mast cells found in many of the tissues within the dog’s body. In response, these mast cells release histamines and other chemicals, trying to eliminate the unwanted attachment. This response leads to inflammation, redness, swelling, and itching, which are the signs we see as an allergic reaction.
What are Some Common Allergens in Zion, IL?
While ingested proteins in dog food make up a large percentage of allergens affecting dogs, there are other sources as well. When fleas, ticks, biting flies, or mosquitos bite, they inject saliva to facilitate blood flow and prevent clotting. This injection often includes various proteins and other small molecule chemicals that can cause an allergic reaction. Inhaled allergens that can lead to allergic reactions include pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and shed skin cells. It is also quite common for dogs to be allergic to medications or household chemicals.
What Are Some Different Dog Allergy Treatments in Zion, IL?
Steroids and antihistamines are used to block allergic reactions. In some cases, fatty acid supplements can be added to the diet to improve dogs’ response to steroids and antihistamines. In cases of chronic allergy-induced itching, prescription drugs such as Apoquel, a daily oral medication, or Cytopoint, a longer-lasting injection, may be suggested by your veterinarian in Zion, IL.
In most cases, simply removing the offending material will relieve the allergy. If the culprit is the lawn or a nearby tree, other means to control the allergic response may be necessary.
Flea or Insect Bite Allergy
Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most common insect-related allergy condition. Strict flea control is by far the most essential component to treating dogs with FAD, as even a single flea bite can cause a severe reaction. If complete flea elimination is not possible or where immediate relief is desirable, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory treatment to alleviate allergy symptoms. In some cases, dogs can injure themselves while scratching, or an infection can occur at the bite sites. If so, your veterinarian may wish to proceed with a course of antibiotics.
Food allergies tend to develop over long periods of exposure to the offending protein. They are often associated with other types of allergies, making them difficult to diagnose. While medication may reduce symptoms, eliminating the offending ingredient is the only cure. This is accomplished by feeding a special diet that excludes the suspected ingredient for eight to twelve weeks. If symptoms persist, your veterinarian will prescribe a different diet, excluding the second most likely ingredient for another eight to twelve weeks. This process is repeated until the offending component is determined.
The allergens that cause inhalant dog allergies in Zion, IL are common in the environment and not easily controlled. Your veterinarian may perform skin or blood tests to determine the specific allergen affecting your dog. Allergy shots may be prescribed if the tests are successful in determining the culprit. Otherwise, your veterinarian may recommend a shampoo or anti-inflammatory therapy.
Frequent bathing with a hypoallergenic shampoo can provide immediate relief to a dog’s itchy skin. Washing allergens from the dog’s coat prevents them from contacting the skin where they can be absorbed or cause inflammation. Your veterinarian may prescribe a therapeutic shampoo that contains anti-inflammatory ingredients.
What Should I Do if I Think My Dog is Suffering from Dog Allergies Zion, IL?
No one should ever attempt to diagnose or treat their dog’s allergies without consulting a professional. There is no doubt that a dog suffering from allergies is a severe condition. It is crucial to have your dog thoroughly evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out any other causes of itching and inflammation. Changing diets and implementing shampoo therapy could take considerable time, and anti-inflammatory treatment could simply mask the symptoms of life-threatening conditions.
Once diagnosed with an allergy, your entire family and anyone that interacts with your dog must follow the prescribed treatment regimen. Following the treatment plan is the only way to reliably ensure that your dog will no longer suffer from allergies.
Contact Your Vet About Dog Allergies in Zion, IL
If you have questions about dog allergies in Zion, IL or would like to set up an appointment for your dog, please give Gray Animal Hospital a call at (224) 304-0668 or make an appointment online today!