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The "itchy" truth about allergies...
Dogs do not have to break out into a skin rash and loose hair to have allergies. Some symptoms are not so obvious. Since they can't tell us what is wrong, we have to pay closer attention. Please read the list of dog allergy symptoms below.
Surface bumps on skin
Inflamed Red Skin
Itchy Runny Eyes
Constant Licking & Chewing (especially the paws and legs)
Constantly Licking the surface around them like their bed, couch, and pillows
Odor (Usually from yeast)
Scooting (Itchy Bottom)
Diarrhea or increased number of bowel movements
Loss of energy
First of all what exactly is an allergy?
An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen.
So what type of allergy could it be?
Flea Allergy Explained
This is a very common allergy that occurs when your dog is sensitive to flea saliva. It is not so much the flea's bite that causes the itching. It is the saliva itself that causes irritation way out of proportion to the actual number of fleas on your pet. All it takes is just one or two fleas to make he or she very miserable for many weeks even after the flea has past on if they have a flea allergy.
Tips to help with flea control:
- Comb their fur at least once daily, every day during pest season with a flea comb. To see what is coming off try doing this on a white towel or other light colored cloth. It you see something that looks like dirt aka "Flea Dirt" this is actually flea feces. To know the difference between real dirt and flea feces just put some in a little rubbing alcohol or water. It will dissolve and release a red color (blood) allowing you to discern real dirt from flea feces. This is a great way of telling if your dog has a flea problem or not.
- Bathe your dog often. A soothing bath will kill any fleas on your dog, help heal skin irritation, and make her feel more comfortable and less itchy. Also, clean animals aren't as attractive to fleas. Pick a non-grain (no oatmeal) herbal shampoo.
- Make liberal use of an all-natural pest repellent like Natural Flea and Tick Defense during flea season.
Food Allergy Explained
Common signs of food allergy in dogs include itchy skin especially around the face, muzzle, feet, pads, ears, armpits and behind, hot spots, vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies often develop in dogs after eating the same type or brand of food for long periods of time. Food allergy does not respond well to corticosteroids or other medical treatments. Treatment requires identifying the offending component(s) of the diet and eliminating them. Unfortunately many dog foods and treats on the market use ingredients that are common allergens for dogs. This is especially true when it comes to grains such as wheat, corn, and soy. We eliminate these ingredients from all of our recipes. They are commonly used simply because they are cheap fillers and binders. Many dogs tolerate them but there are many that don't.
If you suspect your dog has a food allergy here are some things that you can try:
- Purchase the Allergy Sensitivity Test by Glacier Peak Holistics. All you do is submit a hair sample by cutting a piece of fur and saliva sample by swabbing their mouth with a swab provided with the test kit. Just mail it off to the lab and in two weeks you will have a three page report telling what your dog is allergic to. We guarantee you that you will be absolutely amazed when you get the results.
- Work with your vet to develop an allergy elimination diet to help pinpoint the source of the problem. If your vet will not do this, then find another vet especially one that also practices Holistic medicine if available in your area.
Environmental Allergy Explained
In addition to flea and food allergies, your pet can also be allergic to an infinite variety of irritants in the environment. Culprits can be outdoor allergens such as ragweed, grasses and pollens, as well as indoor irritants like mold, dust mites, cleaning chemicals. Even certain fabrics like wool or cotton can be allergens. Finding the cause of these reactions is very crucial because the more your pet is exposed to the irritants, the more their sensitivity and reactions to them will grow.
A good way to know if it is something inside your home is he or she will have allergy symptoms year-round. If they tend to start having a reaction when outside then you will know that it is more than likely something outdoors.
A few suggestions for finding and resolving environmental irritants:
- Clean up your pet's indoor air environment. Don't allow smoking around your pet. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products. Consider investing in an air purifier to control dust mites.
- Make sure your dog's drinking water is high quality and doesn't contain fluoride, heavy metals or other contaminants.
- Don't allow your dog to be over-vaccinated or over medicated. Vaccines rev up your pet's immune system – too many vaccinations can send it into overdrive. An over-reactive immune system sets the stage for allergic conditions.
- Antibiotics wipe out good bacteria right along with the bad guys. Since the majority of your pet's immune system is in her GI tract, the right balance of gut bacteria is crucial for her health. There's also the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in pets.
- Steroid therapy (prednisone, for example) is often prescribed for pets with allergies. What these drugs do is turn off the immune system so it stops creating the allergic response. It does work for symptom relief, but unfortunately, the side effects make this a very serious, potentially dangerous drug.
- Bathe your dog. If your pet has irritated skin, bathing will rinse the allergens away and make her feel better immediately. Don't be shy about how often you bathe your pet, especially if she suffers from allergies that itch and irritate her skin.
- If you suspect something outdoors is irritating your dog, in between baths, do foot soaks. Chances are the allergen is coming inside on your pet's feet. She can't escape it, and she's spreading it around indoors to every room she visits.
If you suspect that your dog may have any of the above allergies please get them tested immediately. Order the Healthy Dog Alternative Sensitivity Assessment by Glacier Peak Holistics today. It will be the best $80 that you will ever spend. Once you get the results show them to your Veterinarian and work with him or her to come up with a plan to relieve your pet's symptoms and prevent future flare ups. If you find that your pet is allergic to some of the ingredients in their pet food, take the list to your local pet store and they should be able to help you select a food. If not, then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to assist you in finding a pet food. Plus you can customize a treat for your pet to eliminate any ingredients that they are allergic to by building your own dog treat. Check out our Build Your Own Treat option by clicking here.