Canine, dog, allergy, sneeze, spring, allergies, itchy, skin, eyes, nose, coat, fur, dandruff, lick, biting, thin, scabs, diet, antibiotic, anti inflammatory, symptom
Were you aware that dogs can suffer from allergies just like their owners? Dogs can be allergic to everything that irritates us and then some. Where a pet itches, bites, scratches or fusses can assist a veterinarian in determining the causative agent, but not always. Discovering the identity of the one or more offending allergens can be a frustratingly tedious process. Attempting to control the symptoms can be equally exasperating.
Though the skin is the largest organ of the body, it is very limited in the manner in which it can respond to allergens. Itching is the most common reaction. You might also see dandruff, incessant licking or biting of the paws, hair loss in only one spot or a generalized thinning of the coat. Additionally, allergies can also lead to chronic ear infections, occasionally in only 1 ear. Your dog may scoot on its bottom because of anal itch or it could be covered with scabs. These are but a few examples of how allergies can affect a dog.
So how can you figure out what is causing your dog's skin issues? The cornerstones are history, clinical signs, response to therapy and cooperation between you and your veterinarian.
Don't be surprised if your veterinarian starts asking you a myriad of questions before he or she ever lays a hand on your dog. Some of them may seem a bit off the wall or irrelevant. Be patient, answer the questions. There is a method to our madness. When did the problem begin, is it seasonal, what medications have your tried and how did they work? What food has your pet been eating? How often do you shampoo your pet and what products do you use? Do other pets in the household have similar problems? Has your pet been traveling? Do you have any skin issues yourself? Your veterinarian is not being nosey rather all of these questions can help shed light on the source of the problem.
My clients often want to know if there is a blood test that can make a definitive diagnosis for allergies. No. Blood and skin tests, similar to those used in people, are available for pets but they are not 100% accurate and are typically used for allergies due to inhaled irritants.
Therapy for allergies can run the gamut from very specialized diets, antibiotics to treat concurrent infections, anti-inflammatory medications, to immune modulating drugs. It can be tempting to run off and try a food or supplement that a friend or breeder will tell you has cured their dog. Remember, each pet is an individual, the cause of your pet's symptoms may be due to several factors and response to therapeutic agents will vary tremendously.
I regret to say that allergies are usually not cured. The goal of therapy is to control the symptoms and make the quality of life more comfortable for the pet and the owner. It is important that you follow the recommendations of your veterinarian especially when it comes to recheck examinations.