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Dog allergies - what to look for, how to help

Allergies in dogs, or allergic dermatitis, is when a pet’s immune system is triggered by an allergen. How do you know if your dog is suffering, and what can you do to help?
Dog allergies - what to look for, how to help

To most dogs these allergens are harmless, but a pet with allergies can have an extreme reaction to them. Some dogs are affected by allergies all year round, while others are only itchy at particular times of the year, similar to us humans suffering with hay fever. Often it is not possible to find the single trigger of the allergy, but you may suspect a particular event has caused the allergy.

Common allergens that can causes of allergies in dogs:

  • Flea/insect saliva (from bites)
  • Pollen
  • Trees
  • Grass
  • House dust mites
  • Household products
  • Certain foods

Common signs of allergies

  • Itchy skin
  • Licking or biting one area
  • Rashes
  • Fur loss
  • Scabs
  • Itchy/runny eyes

Top tips to help your dog with allergies

  • These are some simple steps you can take at home to improve your pet’s skin health.
  • Ensure all pets in the household are treated for fleas every month all year round, many treatments can be ineffective and it's best to consult your vet who can advise the best treatment and use a household flea spray, which will kill any fleas and help to control house dust mites too
  • Vacuum regularly to reduce dust and mites
  • Clean your pet’s bed regularly and rinse well so your dog doesn’t react to any soap/powder residue
  • Use a supplement to reduce itchy skin (ask your vet or vet nurse for details). Identifying the cause of itchy skin can take time, but itch relief can be provided while investigations take place
  • For dogs that are sensitive to pollen and other outdoor irritants, don't walk your dog through tall grasses or meadows, particularly during spring and autumn when pollen counts are higher. Try to also tailor your daily walks to times when the pollen count is lowest, normally between 5am and 10am
  • Every time your dog has been outside, wipe their feet with a damp towel. This can help prevent pollen and other irritants being brought into the home
  • Always follow your vet's recommendation about recheck appointments
  • Avoid your pet coming into contact with anything that you suspect is an allergy trigger
  • In the case of skin allergies, treatment is likely to be more about long-term management and prevention rather than finding a cure. Many dogs will need long-term anti-itch medication
  • Food allergies or intolerances can be tested for by carrying out a dietary exclusion trial. This involves feeding your pet an alternative diet for a period of 6-8 weeks. The choice of food is very important and your vet will advise you on the most appropriate diet to use.

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