Pet Allergy Week (PAW) campaign was originally formed by Avacta Animal Health in 2015 to help vets increase awareness of allergies in dogs and cats.
This year the focus is ‘The Allergy Threshold’ which endeavours to help understanding that multiple allergens could be contributing to the clinical signs seen in dogs, cats and horses and the importance of eliminating other causes of pruritus (severe itchiness) first.
Can My Dog Have Allergies?
Just like people, dogs can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain everyday substances-or allergens- as dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in most environments and harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies may have an extreme reaction to them. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or contact a dog’s skin. As his body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear.
What Are the General Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?
Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
Itchy, runny eyes
Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
Itchy ears and ear infections
Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
Paw chewing/swollen paws
Allergic dogs may also suffer from secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections, which may cause hair loss, scabs or crusts on the skin.
Which Dogs Are At Risk for Getting Allergies?
Any dog can develop allergies at any time during his life, but allergic reactions seem to be especially common in Terriers, Setters, Retrievers, and flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston terriers.
What Substances Can Dogs Be Allergic To?
A few common allergens include:
Tree, grass and weed pollens
Dust and house dust mites
Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)
Fleas and flea-control products (Only a few flea bites can trigger intense itchiness for two to three weeks!)
Rubber and plastic materials
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Food?
Yes, but it often takes some detective work to find out what substance is causing the allergic reaction. Dogs with a food allergy will commonly have itchy skin, chronic ear infections or sometimes gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, and an elimination diet will most probably be used to determine what food he is allergic to. If your dog is specifically allergic to chicken, for example, you should avoid feeding him any products containing chicken protein or fat.
Please note that food allergies may show up in dogs at any age.