What Can I Give My Dog for Allergies? Get the Answers

Like people, dogs can be allergic to many elements of their environment. The air they breathe, food they eat, and items they come into contact with can all spur allergic reactions. Although there is no cure for canine allergies, there are treatments available to relieve your dog's allergy symptoms. Choosing a treatment option can be difficult and leaves many pet owners asking the question, "What can I give my dog for allergies?" without a clear answer.

We've developed a guide to help you determine if your dog has allergies, and, if so, to explain the pros and cons of different treatments.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Allergies

Allergy testing can be expensive, and unfortunately, it can be very difficult to avoid allergens even if you're lucky enough to identify the culprit. Before taking your pet to a professional for testing, here are some common dog allergy symptoms you can look for:

• Increased scratching of skin, eyes, or ears
• Swollen paws from excessive chewing
• Sneezing, coughing, or wheezing
• Constant licking
• Vomiting or diarrhea

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, an allergy treatment could provide relief.

Types of Allergies

As mentioned above, there are many potential causes of allergic reactions in dogs. Here are some of the most common culprits:

• Airborne or inhalant allergens
• Dust
• Mold
• Pollen from grass, weeds, and trees
• Contact allergens
• Cleaning products
• Some rubber and plastic materials
• Insects including fleas, ticks, and mites
• Ingested allergens
• Ingredients in food, such as wheat or soy
• Medications

What Can I Give My Dog for Allergies? Choosing a Treatment Option

An allergic reaction occurs when your dog's immune system responds to a stimulus, even if that stimulus is not actually threatening. If possible, the first step in treating any allergy is to remove the stimulus causing the reaction. Unfortunately, for most allergies, this is not possible. However, depending on the type of allergen, other options are available.

The allergen that is causing your dog's symptoms can be identified through a medical history and current health status evaluation. This method might not always pinpoint a specific allergen; therefore, skin or blood tests, or an elimination diet, may be recommended to determine the cause. When diagnosing your pet, it is important to be aware that dog allergy symptoms may be indicative of another disorder.

A tailored regimen can be started once the source of the reaction has been identified. Common treatments based on allergy type include:

Inhalant Treatments

To address inhalant allergies, your dog can be treated with anti-inflammatory therapy. This uses drugs, such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, or antihistamines, which block the allergens from attaching to cells, preventing the allergic reaction.

Allergy shots are another possible treatment if the specific allergen has been identified. Allergy shots involve injecting your dog with trace amounts of the antigen. These small amounts train your dog's body to be less sensitive to the allergen causing their reactions.

Contact Allergy Treatments

Insect bites pass along their saliva, which is often the source of an insect allergic reaction. While many insect bites can lead to reactions, flea bites are known to cause some of the worst reactions. To prevent fleas, there are several existing products you can apply to your dog's skin. However, severe cases might require a stronger treatment, such as cortisone. Due to its strength, it should only be used under proper guidance.

Shampoo therapy is one option used to treat skin allergies, as it can contain anti-inflammatory ingredients and can rinse out allergens that have accumulated on your dog's coat and skin. If initial treatments are not effective, allergy testing should be performed. Allergy symptoms, such as scratching and licking, can cause secondary bacterial skin infections. In these cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection.

As with inhalant allergies, corticosteroids can be used to treat your dog's contact allergic reaction. However, steroids can negatively affect your dog's liver and only work as a symptom suppressant; therefore, they do not address the cause of the problem.

Food Allergy Treatments

There is really only one way to treat a food allergy, and that is to remove the offending food from your dog's diet. To diagnose a food allergy, your pet must be put on a special diet, free from ingredients that could cause allergic reactions. This prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet should last twelve weeks, and it is important to feed your dog only what is prescribed. Otherwise, you won't be able to determine what foods are causing the allergies.

Once your dog's allergy symptoms have disappeared, you slowly begin to reintroduce other foods to see which one might be responsible for the reaction. Once the offending food is found, there are still challenges to be met. Pet food labels are not always helpful, because ingredient lists are often vague, if not outright inaccurate. Government oversight over the accuracy of commercial dog food contents is not as strong as one might assume. With all of this investigative work into your dog's allergen, you can end up feeding your dog the very thing he is allergic to without your knowledge.

Natural Remedies for Dog Allergies

Because some dog allergy treatments can cause adverse side effects, many dog lovers turn to natural remedies and supplements to safely relieve their dog's symptoms. Spirulina, a type of microalgae, is one of the go-to natural remedies for allergy relief. It is a natural antihistamine and immune booster, making it especially useful for minimizing allergies. Giving your dog high-quality spirulina is essential in order to fully reap the benefits.

Bee pollen is another natural supplement for allergy relief. Bee pollen refers to tiny nuggets of flower pollen (not to be confused with grass, weed or tree pollen) collected by bees, and they are known to provide relief from allergies by boosting the immune system and functioning as a natural antihistamine to non-threatening stimuli.

Moreover, garlic can be an effective insect repellent for your dog. When given correctly, it can effectively provide a 24-hour shield against disease-carrying and allergy-causing insects like ticks and fleas.

Next Steps

"What can I give my dog for allergies?" The answer is it depends on the type of allergy your dog is experiencing. If you think your dog has allergies, it's important to evaluate your alternatives before deciding on the right course of action.

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