Just like humans, dogs can be prone to allergies and skin issues as well. Typically, allergy and skin problems are not life threatening; but that does not mean they are not important. It is essential to address any issues with your dog to help them continue living their best life as your loyal companion. Having a dog that is miserable due to an allergy or skin problem is no fun, that is where we come in!
The most common allergy symptoms include:
- Excessive sneezing
- Reverse sneezing
- Constant itching
- Licking more than normal
- Rubbing parts of their body on other objects such as furniture or floors
- Loss of fur or excessively flaky skin
What causes canine allergies?
Canine allergies have many sources including food sensitivities, environmental allergens, underlying infection, or parasites they may come into contact with. When exposed to an allergen a dogs immune system will provoke an external response that indicates that something is not quite right. The first step in the treatment of many allergy or dermatology issues in dogs is to uncover what the cause is. Your veterinarian will be your best ally to discover what is causing all the fuss; they are practically medical detectives!
Diagnosing Allergies or Other Dermatological Issues
The first step to diagnosis is to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog. They will need to know what kind of food they are on, what their normal outdoor environment is, what adventures they have been on recently, etc. Oftentimes your dog's history will be enough for your veterinarian to be able to diagnose the source of the allergy. However, when their history is not enough, further testing may be required. To further diagnose allergies, your veterinarian may recommend testing such as blood work, a simple skin scraping, or a cytology among others.
The good news about allergies and dermatologic issues is that they are treatable! Thanks to fantastic advances in veterinary medications, there are a wide variety of treatments available to help your dog and improve their quality of life. Some of the most popular treatments include a simple food switch, a non-steroidal daily pill, an injection that can last up to two months, and topical medications.
When to see a specialist
Before seeing a specialist make sure you have gone to your dog’s primary care veterinarian first. If your dog’s primary vet has exhausted their depth of knowledge and your pup is still experiencing discomfort, it may be time for a referral to a veterinary allergy and dermatology specialist. A discussion with your dog’s primary veterinarian can guide you to know when it is time to seek further assistance.