Dog Allergies: Airborne and Food
Our pets suffer from the same airborne allergies as we do. Environmental allergies are the second-most common cause of allergic reactions in pets, after flea allergy dermatitis.
Common Triggers: Grasses, pollens, trees, ragweed, etc.
Signs are usually seasonal but may be seen all year.
Itching is the most typical sign, with long-term or recurrent ear infections being the only sign in a small number of dogs.
The longer the symptoms go untreated, the greater the likelihood of developing worsening allergies. Allergic reactions are produced by your pet’s immune system. Prolonged exposure spanning months to years, sensitizes the immune system.
Food allergies are less common than airborne allergies. Signs of food allergies are similar to airborne allergies except there is little variation in the intensity of itching.
The foods dogs are most often allergic to include beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, and milk. Food allergies are diagnosed by feeding a limited (elimination or hydrolyzed) diet to see if the itching resolves. Our doctors will develop a specific test plan for your dog. The ideal food elimination diet should not contain any ingredients that have been fed previously to your dog. Owners often do not understand that if any previously fed ingredient is present in the elimination diet, the dog may be allergic to that one ingredient and the diet trial will be a failure. The key point in any food elimination diet trial is that only novel food ingredients can be fed. This also includes treats and anything the dog eats besides its regular food (including table food, flavored medications, and toothpaste). An alternative to an elimination diet is a prescription diet that contains hydrolyzed proteins. These proteins are broken down into components that your dog’s body no longer recognizes.
The trial diet should be fed for up to 3 months. If marked or complete resolution in signs occurs during the elimination diet trial, food allergy can be suspected. Once a food allergy is confirmed, the elimination diet should be continued until signs disappear, which usually takes less than 14 days. At this point, previously fed individual ingredients should be added to the elimination diet for a period of up to 14 days. If signs reappear, the individual ingredient is considered a cause of the food allergy. Once the offending allergens are identified, control of the food allergy is by strict avoidance.
Should your pet begin to experience symptoms, we encourage you to call us for an exam. Treatment in a timely fashion may prevent painful infections and costs for further treatment or medicine.