Can dogs have allergies?
Dogs are pretty hardy animals but just like their human friends dogs too are vulnerable to the irritants in the environment. Given the fact that dogs are treated as family members and loved with the same affection a parent would love a child, it is but natural for pet owners to be concerned if the dog falls ill. We know that allergy problems are common human ailments. Not many pet owners though are aware that the dog can have an allergic response to some substances.
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Can dogs have allergies?
Dogs can have allergies too. When the offending substances enter the body, the immune system will overreact and produce antibodies that will protect the body against potential attacks. These antibodies reacting to the allergens and antigens will stimulate the immune cells to produce powerful chemicals called histamines. Histamines are the body’s defense against infections. In the case of allergies, the histamines are released by the immune or mast cells in the lungs, throat and nasal passages causing inflammation and itching.
Chewing and scratching are normal canine behaviors. However, these can be the pet’s allergic reaction to allergens. Itching is the most common symptom of allergies. The dog will excessively scratch the ears, the paws and the skin until bald patches develops. Other symptoms are sneezing and coughing. Allergies will cause the dog to have watery eyes.
Allergies arising from the bites and saliva of fleas are the most common dog allergies. Dogs that are occasionally exposed to flea infestation are most affected. Dogs that are constantly exposed to these external parasites are no longer affected as they are already immune to flea bites. A flea allergic dog will suffer severe itching. Incessant chewing of the skin will result to hair loss and open sores. Obviously, the dog’s allergic reaction will be resolve if the infestation is eradicated.
A change in diet can cause itching and skin inflammations. However, a dog can also develop food allergy from foods that it has been consuming for a long time. About 10% of dogs suffering from allergies are tested to have food allergies. The dog with food allergy will pass soft stools and have more frequent bowel movements.
Atopy is a form of allergy that is most prevalent during the months of August and September when the level of pollen in the environment is high. When the dust, molds and airborne allergens from trees and plants are inhaled by the dog, it would start to itch and to wheeze as if it is suffering from asthma. To block the allergic reaction, the dog will be given anti-inflammatory therapy. Antihistamines and steroids will provide the dog with much needed relief.
This is the least common allergy of dogs. Contact dermatitis develops when the skin is exposed to irritating materials such as plastics, leather or metals. The skin that gets in direct contact with these irritating materials will have red and itchy bumps and blisters. Chronic contact dermatitis can result to bald patches. This kind of allergy can be easily resolve by removing the contact irritant.
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