Like people, dogs can be allergic to many elements of their environment. The air they breathe, food they eat, and items they come into contact with can all spur allergic reactions. Although there is no cure for canine allergies, there are treatments available to relieve your dog’s allergy symptoms. Choosing a treatment option can be difficult and leaves many pet owners asking the question, “what can I give my dog for allergies?” without a clear answer.
We’ve developed a guide to help you determine if your dog has allergies, and, if so, to explain the pros and cons of different treatments.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has Allergies
Allergy testing can be expensive, and unfortunately, there usually isn’t much you can do to avoid allergens once they have been identified. Before taking your pet to a professional for testing, here are some common dog allergy symptoms you can look for:
- Increased scratching of skin, eyes, or ears
- Swollen paws from excessive chewing
- Sneezing, coughing, or wheezing
- Constant licking
- Vomiting or diarrhea
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, an allergy treatment could provide relief.
Types of Allergies
As mentioned above, there are many potential causes of allergic reactions in dogs. Here are some of the most common culprits:
Airborne, or Inhalant Allergens
- Pollen from grass, weeds, and trees
- Cleaning products
- Some rubber and plastic materials
- Insects including fleas, ticks, and mites
- Ingredients in food such as wheat or soy
Identifying the type of allergen your pet is reacting to is essential for determining how to treat the allergies effectively, and provide your dog with quicker relief.
What Can I Give My Dog for Allergies? Choosing a Treatment Option
An allergic reaction occurs when your dog’s immune system responds to a stimulus, even if that stimulus is not actually threatening. If possible, the first step in treating any allergy is to remove the stimulus causing the reaction. Unfortunately, for most allergies, this is not possible. However, depending on the type of allergen, other options are available.
The allergen that is causing your dog’s symptoms can be identified through a medical history and current health status evaluation. This method might not always pinpoint a specific allergen; therefore, skin or blood tests, or an elimination diet, may be recommended to determine the cause. When diagnosing your pet, it is important to be aware that dog allergy symptoms may be indicative of another disorder.
A tailored regimen can be started once the source of the reaction has been identified. Common treatments based on allergy type include:
To address inhalant allergies, your dog can be treated with anti-inflammatory therapy. This uses drugs, such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, or antihistamines which block the allergens from attaching to cells, preventing the allergic reaction.
Allergy shots are another possible treatment if the specific allergen has been identified. Allergy shots involve injecting your dog with trace amounts of the antigen. These small amounts train your dog’s body to be less sensitive to the allergen causing their reactions.
Contact Allergy Treatments
Insect bites pass along their saliva, which is often the source of an insect allergic reaction. While many insect bites can lead to reactions, flea bites are known to cause some of the worst reactions. To prevent fleas, there are several existing products you can apply to your dog’s skin. However, severe cases might require a stronger treatment, such as cortisone. Due to its strength, it should only be used under proper guidance.
Shampoo therapy is one option used to treat skin allergies, as it can contain anti-inflammatory ingredients and can rinse out allergens that have accumulated on your dog’s coat and skin. If initial treatments are not effective, allergy testing should be performed. Allergy symptoms, such as scratching and licking, can cause secondary bacterial skin infections. In these cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection.
As with inhalant allergies, corticosteroids can be used to treat your dog’s contact allergic reaction. However, steroids can negatively affect your dog’s liver and only work as a symptom suppressant; therefore, they do not address the cause of the problem.
Food Allergy Treatments
There is really only one way to treat a food allergy, and that is to remove the offending food from your dog’s diet. To diagnose a food allergy, your pet must be put on a special diet, free from ingredients that could cause allergic reactions. This prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet should last twelve weeks, and it is important to feed your dog only what is prescribed. Otherwise, you won’t be able to determine what foods are causing the allergies.
Once your dog’s allergy symptoms have disappeared, you should slowly begin to reintroduce other foods to see which one might be responsible for the reaction.
Natural Support for Seasonal Discomfort
Since some dog allergy pharmaceuticals can cause adverse side effects, many dog lovers turn to natural supplements as an alternative. Spirulina, a type of microalgae, is one of the go-to natural solutions for seasonal issues. It is an immune booster, making it especially effective. Giving your dog high-quality spirulina is essential in order to fully reap the benefits.
Moreover, garlic can be an effective insect repellent for your dog. When given correctly, it can effectively provide a 24-hour shield against disease-carrying and allergy-causing insects like ticks and fleas.
“What can I give my dog for allergies?” The answer is it depends on the type of allergy your dog is experiencing. If you think your dog has allergies, it’s important to evaluate your alternatives before deciding on the right course of action.