Just like people, dogs can develop allergies too. Here are some of the most common signs your dog may have allergies and some of the best ways to treat them.
Some of the most common signs your dog may have allergies are itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, snoring, itchy ears or ear infections, and diarrhea or vomiting. Your dog may also have skin symptoms including itchy skin, hair loss, frequent licking, and swollen paws.
Diagnosing potential allergies will depend on the type of allergy your dog is suspected of having. Your vet may be able to diagnose your dog's allergies simply by a physical examination. If your vet is unable to determine the cause of your dog's allergies, further tests may be ordered.
Many allergies can be tested for with a skin test similar to the ones used to test humans for allergies. This is usually done if your dog is having skin problems.
If your dog is having gastrointestinal symptoms, your vet may recommend a change in diet. If the symptoms go away, then your dog was allergic to something in their diet. You will then begin adding things back to their diet one food at a time, to see if it causes a reaction.
Some allergens can be reduced or avoided. Food allergens can be avoided with a special diet. Dust can be reduced by frequent cleaning, fleas can be avoided with flea medications, and environmental allergens can be reduced by frequent bathing. However, some allergens can't be avoided. Some dogs are so sensitive that allergens can't be reduced enough not to bother them. These dogs may need allergy treatment.
Your vet may suggest the use of antihistamines like Benadryl, which are used to treat some types of dog allergies. These are only effective for about 30% of dogs, and these dogs may eventually build up a tolerance to the medicine making it ineffective for them as well. The exact medicine and dosage should be determined by your vet.
Some may need a stronger medication. The same corticosteroids humans receive for severe allergies are also effective for dogs. These are the highly effective short term but can have serious side effects if they are used for a long period of time.
Dogs can also receive allergy shots. For many dogs, this may be the best long-term solution to their allergy problems.