If sneezing and itching drive you crazy, you can bet that your dog feels the same way. Just like a human allergy, a dog allergy can be incredibly frustrating for your canine. So is there any way to give them relief?
Here’s some information on why your dog might be suffering an allergic reaction and ways you can help him or her find relief safely and naturally.
Why Your Dog Has Allergies
Allergens are all around us. They’re in our food, in the air we breathe, and even in our beds, furniture, and carpeting. Allergic reactions occur when your dog’s immune system perceives these allergens as threats. Some of the more common allergens that affect dogs include pollen, dust mites, fleas, and mold. In some cases, a dog can develop a food allergy, just as a human can.1
It can take months, or even years, for an allergy to develop. The immune system gradually builds up a sensitivity to certain allergens. Then, one day it will simply over-react to this supposed threat. An allergy is basically an unnecessary response to a substance that would otherwise be harmless.2
All dogs are susceptible to allergies, regardless of breed or age.
The signs of an allergy could start showing up in a puppy as early as six months, but they typically don’t begin until the dog is about one or two years old. Dogs with a skin allergy will usually experience itching. It could be in just one spot, or throughout their body. Some dogs show symptoms like sneezing, coughing, or wheezing, while others will have a runny nose. Allergic reactions can also result in diarrhea and vomiting.3
Is it a Food Allergy or a Seasonal Allergy?
A seasonal allergy is an allergy to something in your dog’s outdoor environment. For example, this could be pollen from a plant that grows during a certain time of the year. The symptoms of a seasonal allergy and a food allergy are similar. They include itchiness, hair loss, and infected skin.4
But there can be significant differences between food and seasonal allergies as well. As the name implies, a seasonal allergy will typically develop only during certain times of the year. A food allergy, on the other hand, will occur year round. A food allergy also tends to cause lesions on your dog’s skin, especially on the hips, knees, and flanks.5
Diagnosing an Allergy
Your veterinarian can perform tests to determine the specific cause of a dog allergy. One method is known as intradermal skin testing. This typically involves shaving an area of fur from your dog’s abdomen or side. Then, small needles are placed under the skin to inject small amounts of different allergens. The vet will then examine the injection sites to see whether or not a reaction, such as hives or redness, is occurring.6
Another method is serum allergy testing. The vet will take a blood sample from your dog instead of shaving their fur. Then, different allergens will be added to see which ones cause a reaction.7 However, there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether serum allergy testing is reliable.8
Helping Your Dog Find Relief
Many pet owners prefer to seek natural remedies to treat a food allergy or skin allergy in their dogs, rather than conventional medications or steroids. Thankfully, you have a lot of choices that may help relieve your dog’s symptoms.
· Vitamin E
If your dog is suffering from dry skin due to an allergy, you can try giving them a bath with vitamin E oil mixed into the water. Vitamin E is a natural moisturizer, and it might bring your pup some relief. You could also give your dog a vitamin E supplement in pill form, or you could try applying vitamin E oil directly on areas of your dog’s skin that have been causing problems.9
Quercetin is a compound found in many fruits and vegetables. It’s largely responsible for giving them their coloring. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine, which may help reduce itching in your dog. You can find it in pill form at your local health food store. Talk to your vet about what dose will be exactly correct for your dog’s weight.10
· Coconut Oil
Coconut oil might help dogs who have an allergic reaction to flea bites. It also helps fight harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause itching.11,12
· Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is another substance that inhibits the development of harmful fungi and bacteria. You can apply aloe vera gel directly to the areas of the skin that are giving your dog problems. But you should never use the whole aloe vera leaf. The rind contains substances known as saponins, which can cause diarrhea.13
· Oat Bath
An oat bath can be very effective when your dog has allergies. However, stay away from this remedy if your dog is itching due to a yeast infection. Oats are high in carbohydrates, which can promote the development of yeast. If your dog has a skin or food allergy that’s causing itching and discomfort, oats may offer relief. The bath will also help eliminate any allergens on your pup’s skin and coat. Boil some organic oat straw in water, let it cool, and then add it to your dog’s bath.14
Chickweed is often effective for “hot spots” on your dog’s skin, and it may also help relieve itching when your dog has allergies. You can apply chickweed gel directly to any areas affected by rashes.15
This is a type of enzyme found in pineapples that helps a dog’s body absorb quercetin. Bromelain is available in supplement form.16
One Last Note
These natural remedies should be completely safe for your dog. However, you should never give your pup anything without first having a discussion with your vet. They might recommend another holistic remedy instead.
Either way, you and your vet can come up with a plan to finally bring your pooch some much-needed relief from dreaded allergies.