Identifying Pets' Allergies

Pets allergies can cause a lot of problems for both the animal and for you as the owner. A pet's allergic reaction can be to a wide variety of different offending allergens. These allergies develop when a substance that is foreign to your pet's body is introduced into his environment. In most cases, the reaction that his body makes to such an element is minimal.

However, in certain situations, his body will begin to treat that foreign element as an enemy and will launch a protective attack against it by releasing histamines. Read on for a brief overview of how to identify your dog's allergies.

Types of Allergies

There are three primary allergies that dogs suffer from, as follows:

  • Contact
  • Food
  • Atopic

Contact allergies develop as a result of your pet touching something in the environment. This may be a natural product like a certain plant or animal, or it may be a chemical or another item found inside of the house. Food allergies are reactions to particular types of food or certain ingredients. It's not uncommon for dogs to develop allergic reactions to a distinct ingredient in their food. Atopic allergies are those that are a response to particles floating in the atmosphere.

Look for Symptoms

Many of the common allergies that dogs experience result in the same sets of symptoms. These generally include the following:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Rubbing nose and eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loose stool
  • Vomiting

If you notice those symptoms, pay particular attention to anything that may have been different about your pet's situation. If the symptoms come on suddenly, it's unlikely that they're a product of an allergic reaction. However, if they seem to vary according to the time of year, the amount of time that your pet spends outside, or to coordinate with a change in your dog's diet or other behavior, this may be a sign of allergic reactions.

Diagnosing the Allergy

Your vet will oftentimes administer an anti-histamine to your pet to try to quell the allergic reaction. If it's serious and is potentially life threatening, there are other measures that can help to reduce the problem immediately. If the symptoms respond to an anti-histamine, it's likely that they do represent an allergic reaction. The next step is to determine exactly which allergen is causing the problem. Because the three main types of reactions have distinct types of symptoms, your vet will likely be able to identify which it is.

Next, you'll need to run elimination tests. These tests will either involve feeding your dog specialized limited-ingredient diets to check and see which ingredient he's allergic to, or they'll involve injecting him with minimal amounts of several common allergens to witness his skin's reaction.

Between these different tests, you and your veterinarian should be able to determine exactly which allergen is causing your dog to have a negative reaction. Once you've done this, you can discuss ways to eliminate that allergen from your pet's environment so you can reduce his symptoms.