Our dog is terribly itchy. She is always chewing on the pads of her feet and constantly scratching at her ears, back and belly. Is it possible for pets to have allergies this time of the year like humans do?
Itchy in Independence Heights
We turned to our friends at Texas A&M University to scratch the surface of this common pet problem. Dr. Adam Patterson, a clinical associate professor and chief of dermatology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said that every animal has a different reaction to allergies, just as people respond to allergies differently. However, most animals display itching as a hallmark sign of allergic skin disease.
“An itch may be manifested as licking, chewing, biting, rubbing, scratching, head shaking, and/or scooting,” Patterson said. “Common itchy body areas include the face, ears, paws, armpits, groin, rump, and anal region.”
Allergens that most commonly irritate pets include fleas, pollen, molds, mites, insects, danders, and food. Some breeds are more prone to allergies than others. Your buddy may have an inherited tendency to develop allergies, including inhalant allergies, flea allergies and food allergies. In some cases, an allergy may worsen the breathing difficulties in flatter-faced pets, but allergies in dogs are far more likely to show up as skin problems.
Your dog may be allergic to the same kinds of things you are, such as airborne pollens, dust and molds and even human dander. She could also be allergic to an ingredient in the shampoo you use to bathe her or the laundry detergent that you use. Inhalant allergies may start as seasonal symptoms, plaguing your pooch only a few weeks during the year; but over time, they can begin to bother her constantly.
Allergies can’t be cured, but the good news is that your vet can offer ways to manage the symptoms and make your pooch far more comfortable. A few small changes that you can make might be the difference between comfort and misery for your pooch. Vets recommend trying the following to see if your pet’s symptoms seem to abate:
• Adding essential fatty acid supplements to your dog’s diet (salmon oil, fish oil, krill oil, etc.). A lack of omega-3 fatty acids is an extremely common cause for dry, flaky skin.
• Daily brushing
• Regular baths with oatmeal shampoo (once a month)
• Finish bath with a moisturizing rinse and/or anti-itch spray
• Antihistamines (if severe)
• Install humidifiers in living/sleeping areas
If your vet rules out environmental allergens as the problem, an elimination diet might be the next step to rule out food allergies. Even after years of eating the same food with no problem, dogs can sometimes suddenly develop an allergy to certain ingredients in their food. Items such as wheat, soy and meat are all common food allergens. A hypoallergenic dog food will likely be just what the doctor (or, vet) orders to alleviate symptoms of a food allergy in your pup.
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