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Dog Allergies: A Guide for Managing Digestive and Skin Allergies in Dogs

25 April 2024 |

Dog Health
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Our beloved dogs can face challenges similar to our skin and food allergies. Like humans, dogs can suffer from skin irritation, itchiness, and digestive issues due to allergies. If your dog is frequently scratching, chewing their paws, experiencing ear infections, or having gastrointestinal problems, they may be battling an allergen. Successfully navigating and addressing these allergies can help your pet’s quality of life and well-being.

Understanding and managing your dog’s allergies can be a multifaceted journey that requires detailed attention to allergen identification, dietary adjustments, and consistent home care routines. In this overview we will take you through key points for recognising and effectively handling food and skin allergies in your loyal four-legged companion, ensuring they lead a comfortable, itch-free life filled with joy and vitality.

Recognising Allergy Symptoms

Early detection of allergy symptoms is crucial for providing timely relief to your furry companion. Common signs of food and skin allergies in dogs may include:

  • Persisting Itchiness: Excessive scratching unrelated to flea infestations or dry skin conditions. (Remember to regularly provide your dog with flea treatment so you can rule those nasty little critters out!)
  • Redness or Swelling: Visible skin inflammation, often seen around the paws, ears, underarms, and groin areas.
  • Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach noises, and increased gas.
  • Bacterial Complications: Allergy-triggered skin problems that may lead to bacterial skin infections.

If your furry friend exhibits any of these symptoms, keeping a detailed record and consulting your veterinarian promptly for professional advice is recommended.

What Causes Dog Allergies?

Now that we’re all tuned into the signs and symptoms of allergies in our four-legged friends, you might wonder, “What’s at the root of all this?” Dog allergies can be as complex and varied as the breeds we love. At their core, allergies stem from the immune system’s overreaction to certain allergens. These can sneak into your dog’s day-to-day in a few main ways:

  • Food Allergies: Just like us, dogs can develop allergies to specific food ingredients. Common culprits include beef, dairy, wheat, egg, and soy. It’s a long list, but fear not! Identifying the offending ingredient can bring immense relief to your pet.
  • Environmental Allergies: These allergies spring from the world around us. Pollen, mould, dust, and even flea saliva (yep, it’s not just about the bite) can trigger allergic reactions. Seasonal changes can often bring about symptoms, so watch as the weather shifts.
  • Contact Allergies: Less common but equally pesky, contact allergies arise from direct contact with allergens, which could be anything from certain fabrics to household cleaning products. It’s a sneaky cause, but staying vigilant about what comes in contact with your pet can make a significant difference.

Identifying Allergens

Accurately identifying the allergen causing your dog’s reactions is crucial for effective allergy management. Common food allergens in dogs may include proteins like beef, dairy, and some grains, while environmental allergens can vary from dust mites to pollen.

Ultimately, we would always recommend a visit to the vet. Equally, we understand this may not be possible, and if this is the case, to kickstart this investigative process at home, maintain a detailed diary of your dog’s diet and exposure to potential environmental triggers. Remember, allergies can develop gradually, underscoring the importance of consistent monitoring and awareness in effectively managing your pet’s health and happiness.

Dietary Management

Once the allergen is identified, the next step is eliminating it from your dog’s diet. This process of identification typically involves an elimination diet. Consult with your vet on how to conduct this diet experiment safely. They may advise feeding your pup a novel protein and carbohydrate (ingredients they’ve never eaten before) to ease symptoms and then reintroducing other foods systematically to spot the issue.

Hypoallergenic Dog Food Options

Hypoallergenic dog foods are formulated with special care to minimise the risk of allergic reactions. They often contain novel ingredients such as game meat (duck) or less common meats like Turkey, easy-to-digest fish, and various carbohydrates and vegtables (e.g. lentils, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale) that are not commonly included in standard dog food.

At Green Pantry, we have various hypoallergenic dog food products. In particular,

For dogs with sensitive digestion, we recommend our Green Pantry, Trout and Salmon diet, which aids digestion.

For dogs with skin and coat issues, we have our Green Pantry Chicken with apple and pumpkin that aids skin and coat issues.

At home, we have two Lurchers, a mother and a daughter, who are fussy and have very sensitive tummies. They used to suffer a lot from runny poo (until we changed them onto Green Pantry), but we have found that the Green Pantry hypoallergenic diets, with a focus on high-quality, natural ingredients, are perfect.

Alternatively, there are some other great options on the market. Our personal favourites are Lilly’s Kitchen and Pouch and Mutt. Like Green Pantry, these two great companies carefully formulate their foods.

Skin Care Routine

A regular and gentle skincare routine can help dogs with skin allergies keep allergens at bay and soothe discomfort.

Bathing Frequency

Regular washes can help clean away allergens and reduce itching, but over-bathing can also dry your dog’s skin. A bi-weekly to monthly bathing schedule is generally recommended, but consult your vet for your dog’s needs.

Use of Hypoallergenic Shampoos

Invest in a high-quality hypoallergenic dog shampoo that is fragrance-free and contains soothing ingredients like oatmeal or aloe vera. Shampoos from companies such as Wildwash or Bugalugs can be ideal for pets with skin sensitivities.

Flea Treatment Advice

An effective flea treatment strategy is vital to keeping your furry friends healthy and happy. It’s also essential to be able to rule this out when trying to identify other skin-related issues. Fleas can cause discomfort and irritation and even lead to allergies in sensitive dogs. That’s why at Green Pantry, we stress the importance of using treatments that are not only effective but also safe for your dog’s specific health needs.

Choosing the Right Treatment

Opt for vet-recommended flea treatments tailored to your dog’s size, age, and health condition. Remember, what works for one dog may not suit another, especially when dealing with sensitivities.

Frequency of Treatment

Regular treatments are essential to keep fleas at bay. Often, monthly applications are recommended, but your vet can provide guidance tailored to your dog’s environment and lifestyle.

Natural Alternatives

For those looking for a more natural approach, options like diatomaceous earth and essential oil-based sprays can repel fleas. Nevertheless, always try to speak with your vet before trying new remedies to ensure they’re safe for your pet.

At Green Pantry, we believe in a holistic approach to your dog’s health. We combine high-quality nutrition with proper skin care and responsible parasite control. Remember, a healthy dog is more often than not happy dog.

Consulting a Veterinarian

Your vet is your best ally in fighting your dog’s allergies. They can guide you through safe dietary changes and help with long-term management strategies.

Importance of Professional Guidance

While many more common or straightforward allergies can be identified through the elimination process, diagnosing and treating more complex allergies without veterinary expertise can be risky and potentially harmful to your dog’s health.

If you can, we recommend starting with a trip to the vet when you suspect allergies.

Allergy Testing Options

If your vet suggests an allergy test, there are two standard methods used:

  • Intradermal skin testing: Small quantities of allergens are intentionally introduced into the skin during a process known as allergy skin testing. This method monitors and assesses the body’s reactions to specific allergens, helping identify potential allergies and develop appropriate treatment plans.
  • Blood testing: A blood sample is tested for antibodies to common allergens.

While not foolproof, these tests can help identify allergens more definitively, making management much more straightforward.

Conclusion

Understanding and managing your dog’s allergies doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By carefully observing symptoms, identifying allergens, making smart dietary choices, and ensuring proper skin care, you can significantly help your pup. Remember, your veterinarian is your best resource; with their guidance, you’ll develop the best plan for your dog. Stay engaged, stay informed, and give your pup the comfort they deserve.


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