Keeping Dog Allergies in Check

Research completed by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech proves that dog allergies affect 10 percent of canines throughout the United States. The allergies range from reactions to insect bites to full-blown food allergies. Dogs rarely develop symptoms like watery eyes or runny noses. The number one symptom of a dog allergy is persistent itchy skin.

Common Causes and Symptoms

If your dog is always licking or scratching a particular area of his/her body, chances are dog allergies are to blame. Allergies occur from reactions to foods, bug bites or contaminants within the air. Most allergies occur seasonally, particularly in the spring and fall when wet weather causes an increase in mold and mildew. In addition, researchers find that an increase in carbon dioxide levels also increase the pollen levels in spring and summer.

Fleas are a Leading Cause of Allergies

The most common allergy in dogs is fleabites. When fleas bite a dog, they deposit saliva onto the dog's skin. This saliva irritates the skin. Dog allergies from fleas cause the dog to lick, bite and scratch in areas where fleas reside. The itching occurs because of the fleabite and the allergic reaction to the saliva. With fleas, many dogs develop bald spots from the excessive scratching. Fleas are easy to spot. Preventative flea medications help prevent flea allergies. In addition, Borax powder sprinkled onto the carpet or around the outside of your house helps rid your home of these parasites.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when exposure occurs between the dog's skin and irritants like Carpet Fresh or perfumed shampoo or allergens like wool and grass pollen. Dog allergies from irritants and allergens generally take little effort to avoid.

Many pet owners find that switching their dog's food and water bowls to glass or stainless steel ones makes a huge difference. Others find more investigation is necessary. Walk your dog on pavement and avoid all grass. Refrain from using carpet cleaning powders and scented sprays in areas where the dog frequents. Purchase hypoallergenic bedding for your pet. Once you have narrowed down the item or items causing the allergic reaction, you can eliminate exposure to it.

Food Allergies

Dog allergies that involve foods may be hard to diagnose. Most dogs throw up when they eat a food that doesn't agree with them, but with others, the signs are less obvious. Many dogs develop allergies to corn. Other common ingredients linked to food allergies include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Milk
  • Seafood
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Dogs with food allergies tend to scratch at the face and ears prominently. Feeding your dog a grain-free, protein rich food is always best. Avoid grocery store foods. They are heavy in preservatives and unnecessary fillers.

Uncovering the food item to which a dog is allergic takes a lot of time, trial and error. Start by feeding single ingredients to learn what foods are okay for your pet and which are not. You may end up making dog food at home, but your pet will be happier and healthier.