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Allergies in Dogs


Allergies are very common in pets. Your dog or cat may become sensitized to allergens. Molds, pollens, grass, tree, weeds and dust musts are the most common ones. Once your pet comes into contact with these allergens, its body starts an inflammatory response to try to fight off this enemy and inflammation of the skin, ears and gastro-intestinal tract occurs.

Allergies account for about 25% of all skin diseases and there seems to be a genetic predisposition in dogs and cats. The local environment plays a factor with this condition also. Seasonality of allergens (temperature, humidity, etc) will also influence the severity.

Beagles, Boston terriers, Cairn terriers, Sharpeis, Dalmatians, English bulldogs, English setters, Golden retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Schnauzers, Scottish terriers, West Highland Terriers, and Wirehaired Fox Terriers have found to be predisposed, but breed predilections have not been reported in cats.

Most sign develop at around 1-2 years old and usually worsen with age and females are more commonly affected than males.

Most pets present with itching and scratching of the skin along the back, licking and biting between the toes and in the groin area, and redness and irritation around the face, muzzle and ears. Most lesions are due to self-inflicted trauma from this licking, chewing and scratching.

There are several disorders that can appear similar to allergies. The most common ones are sarcoptic mange, demodectic mange, photosensitivity (sun burn) and fungal infections (ringworm). With flea allergy dermatitis being the most common cause of allergies.

Sarcoptic and demodectic mange generally occurs more in younger pets and is most often on the chest, elbows, hocks and ears. Contact dermatitis generally affected the chest, abdomen or feet. Food allergies often affect and ears and are non-seasonal. And inhalant allergies are generally along the back and hips.

Diagnosing allergies in your pet will be based up presenting signs and locations of these signs but other testing may be needed. Additional test may include skin scrapings, fungal culture, skin culture, skin biopsy, intradermal skin testing or serum allergy testing.

Treatment depends on the underlying condition but often includes anti-histamines, corticosteroids, antibiotics, fatty acid supplements, medicated shampoos, immunotherapy, anti-depressants and antibiotics. Often treatments are only symptomatic and may need to be given for life.

If you think your pet has allergies…

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