Dogs can suffer from allergies just like humans do. Most allergies for dogs are either food allergies or environmental allergies like pollen. Pollen lands on the skin and can cause irritation. Breathing pollen an irritate their very sensitive nasal passages and cause sneezing and backward sneezing – dogs sneeze in both directions.
Many dogs will respond to the allergy by itching. They will scratch and dig at their skin, sometimes chewing themselves until they have open sores and hot spots. Hot spots can cause bald spots, open sores that get crusty and ooze. Hot spots are very tender and irritated. Why do they do this to themselves?
How the Body Responds to an Allergen
When an allergen enters the body, the body responds by releasing white blood cells into the bloodstream. These white cells release histamines as part of the response to the allergens. It is an anti-inflammatory/immunity response. They are going to battle.
Histamines can cause severe itching. Many foods can cause this reaction as well. When the body is releasing histamines like crazy, intense itching is the response. The best way to get the dog to stop scratching is the give them an anti-histamine. This will lower the production of histamine in response to the allergen which caused the chain reaction.
There are a few things you can use to treat the allergic reaction. Many people use Benadryl but the effects are not good for some dogs as they cause extreme lethargy and sleepiness. A better solution is Claritin. Yes, the same Claritin that humans use. It will work as an antihistamine and it doesn’t cause the horrible drowsiness.
Be VERY SURE NOT TO USE CLARITIN-D. Claritin-D is very bad and sometimes fatal to dogs. You must administer the Claritin by weight. If they weigh twenty pounds or less, they should only have half of a 5mg tablet. You may give them this up to twice daily.
Bathing your dog every four weeks can help reduce allergens on their skin and give them relief also. When you have a dog that suffers from allergies, it can be a real nightmare at times. They scratch and cry. If you let your guard down and forget to give them a dose of medicine, they can wake you in the middle of the night, crying while scratching.
Some dogs are more susceptible to allergies than others. Some breeds seem to have more allergy issues than others and it can be genetically passed. Beagles can have skin issues and allergies at various times of the year.
Bathing them regularly, using ear wash, and giving them Claritin will help them to have fewer reactions to environmental allergens.
Food allergies can cause these same reactions so you might try to change the foods that you are feeding. Some suspicious foods that may trigger allergies in dogs include chicken, beef, wheat, corn, and some chemical additives.
Try eliminating one thing at a time to see if you can make a difference in your dog’s reactions to their food. It is also possible to have your veterinarian do an allergen test to find out what your dog is specifically allergic to. For dogs that are miserable and quickly losing fur, keep them on Claritin and work on resolving the problem as quickly as possible.
Healing Hot Spots
Using sulfadene shampoos can be an effective treatment for hotspots. Hydrocortisone creams can be prescribed which will help them but you’ll need to make certain that your dog cannot lick the cream. They may have to wear a cone style collar over their head to prevent them from licking or chewing.
Castor oil can be rubbed directly onto skin lesions and irritate spots and it may be useful in helping hot spots. If castor oil is licked it will not cause any harm and shouldn’t be enough to cause diarrhea. Castor oil is also a potentially effective flea and tick deterrent.
Hotspots don’t feel good and your dog may not like you touching it. Be gentle and cautious. Even the sweetest dog can lash out at you with teeth when they are in pain. Always apply medical creams to sore spots with care.
Some dogs are allergic to flea bites. One bite can send them into an itching tirade that they can’t stop. Histamine is released in the body from one tiny flea bite. Sadly, many of the flea and tick preventions on the market only work after the bug bites. This is very problematic for dogs with flea allergies.
While your dog may have no visible fleas, before that flea died, it bit your dog and set a chain reaction into motion that now has their poor body fighting an allergen from the saliva of the flea. Claritin should help with this and you may try using a medicated shampoo that is formulated in a way that makes fleas want to stay away from your dog. Eucalyptus is a scent that fleas hate, for example. Many types of flea shampoos are formulated to prevent them from jumping on your dog at all and this will be the best prevention for you in a case of a dog that is allergic to the flea bite. This is called flea dermatitis. Veterinarians tend to want to prescribe steroids but this has many drawbacks.
Prednisone For Dogs
This is a steroid that is often prescribed for allergies in dogs, as well as many other things. The problem with using steroids is that they cause a lot of side-effects which include but aren’t limited to:
- Excessive drinking/thirst
- Increased hunger/weight gain
- A loss of energy
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Skin infections – bacterial in nature
As you can see, the potential issues that arise from using prednisone are many. This is just a short list and there can be other complications. You should only resort to steroids after all other options have been thoroughly exhausted.
Salt Water Soaks
Soaking in salt water is great for the skin and helps draw infections out of wounds. If there are open sores on your dog’s skin, you should avoid salt water soaks but many people swear by this remedy, even for helping ease the discomfort of mange.
Salt water will soften skin and has no adverse reactions to worry about. Some people enjoy taking their dog to the ocean and allowing them to frolic in the ocean water, enjoying the benefits of the salt water naturally.
Seresto Flea Collars for Flea Control
The jury is still out on these collars. People either love them or hate them. If your dog has horrible flea allergies, they may be worth trying. They are a long-term flea collar that deters fleas from landing on your dog at all and they won’t bite because Seresto will kill them on contact.
The potential downside with Seresto is that it is not tolerated well by all dogs. Reports of skin breakouts happening in the neck area, under the collar, show some animal’s skin is highly allergic to the chemicals in the collar and they cannot tolerate them at all. If you choose to use these collars be very vigilant to check your dog’s neck frequently and be prepared to remove the collar immediately if you see the first signs of a reaction.
Allergies can be tough to handle and require a bit of thought. Find products that work and use a combination of them to give your dog the best comfort level possible. They may still have a slight itch that comes and goes but if you can keep them from excessive chewing, scratching, and licking, they will be so much more comfortable that they can live relatively normally.
You’ll also feel better knowing that they aren’t being drugged with harmful things and they aren’t in total distress. When you itch all over all the time, it is very stressful for them.
Work on finding out what their allergies are specifically. Treat them with Claritin, monthly bathings and make sure that you are using all of the other things at your disposal between baths. Keep a regular routine and stick with it. Keep their diet relatively the same so that you know you aren’t going to set off a severe bout of itching that will leave them with bald spots and open sores. It is shocking how much dam
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.