Dogs are much like their human friends when it comes to susceptibility to sickness—including allergies. Triggers like seasonal pollens, flea allergies, dusts, food and molds can set off miserable allergy symptoms. The most prevalent allergy symptom is dog atopy (atopic dermatitis) which is characterized by an itchy skin rash, but there are many other symptoms to watch for:
- Constant licking and scratching (especially at back or bottom of tail)
- Gnawing on swollen paws
- Throat inflammation that causes excessive snoring
- Ear infection with itchiness
- Runny and itchy eyes
- Bald patches or scabbing skin (dog hot spots)
Allergy Treatment for Dogs
The first step in minimizing your dog’s exposure to allergens is to identify his or her triggers. An allergy veterinarian can help you diagnose the underlying cause of your dog’s atopy (or other allergy symptoms) so that you can avoid or treat allergies in your dog from there.
Eliminating the allergen from the dog’s environment is one way to help manage dog allergies. Keeping your home regularly cleaned and free of dust and mold can help. In some circumstances, something as simple as regularly bathing your dog may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Note that it is not possible to avoid allergens altogether, though, as many are airborne and can make their way into indoor spaces with each opening of a door or window.
Whatever may be at the root of your pet’s allergies, talk to an allergy veterinarian to learn about allergy immunotherapy. Medications or steroids may be helpful for short term symptoms, but they can have harmful side effects over time, and they don’t treat the source of the allergy symptoms. Allergy immunotherapy can actually treat the underlying allergy (not just its symptoms) for lasting relief. It is available through allergy shots or through sublingual immunotherapy. (Sublingual immunotherapy is administered through oral allergy drops for dogs that are safer and easier to administer than allergy shots.)