Dog allergies: everything you need to know

Dog allergies: everything you need to know

Dog allergies are common – but they don’t have to affect your dog’s quality of life! Understanding the causes and solutions can help you keep her comfortable and symptom-free.

Dog allergies are common, and the symptoms that come with them can be incredibly frustrating for both you and your furry friend. The good news is there are things you can do to help manage your dog’s allergies and boost her immune system. Let’s take a look at some of the possible causes of allergies and the steps you can take to remedy them below.

Types of dog allergies and their symptoms

The triggers behind allergies differ from dog to dog, as does the severity of symptoms. There are three main types of allergies your dog might suffer from:

Flea allergies

A few flea bites is enough to make a dog with flea allergies itch like crazy! Flea saliva is believed to be the allergen that causes the itchiness associated with flea allergies (otherwise known as flea allergy dermatitis).

Environmental allergies 

These allergies can be hard to pinpoint because the allergen could be inhaled (like pollen or dust) or externally irritating to your dog’s skin (like laundry detergent or grass). Common symptoms include watery eyes, itchy or inflamed skin, sneezing, and pawing or biting certain areas of skin.

If your dog’s allergy symptoms seem to come and go with the seasons, it’s likely an environmental allergy is at play.

Food allergies

Dogs are carnivores – meaning they’re biologically designed to eat meat. If your dog has been eating highly processed kibble for a while, she might have developed a sensitivity to an allergenic ingredient such as grain, potato, rice or corn. Dogs can also suffer from sensitivities to a certain protein source such as chicken, beef, pork or turkey.

If your four-legged friend has food allergies, you may notice digestive upsets (such as vomiting, diarrhea and gas), itchy skin or general irritability. She certainly won’t feel like her happy self!

Dog allergy remedies

Whether you can identify the cause of your dog’s allergies or not, there are steps you can take to manage her symptoms.

If you don’t know what the allergy is:

Conventional treatments such as antihistamines can help alleviate symptoms. However, they don’t address the root cause of your dog’s allergies.

If your dog’s symptoms are severe, consider taking her to the vet for a skin allergy test. It’s not cheap, but this test is a quick and effective way of pinpointing the certain foods or environmental triggers that are causing issues for your dog.

If you think the allergy is food related, but you’re not sure what food is upsetting your dog’s tummy, start by removing fillers and common allergens.

If you don’t notice an improvement, you could then try an elimination diet. This is where you stick to a single source of protein – ideally a novel protein, which is an ingredient your dog hasn’t been exposed to and is therefore unlikely to cause a reaction (such as New Zealand Venison) – and remove all filler ingredients such as corn, wheat and grains.

Stick to this new diet for at least 4–6 weeks, and when you slowly introduce other foods, you’ll uncover the source of the allergy and can eliminate it from your dog’s diet completely.

If you do know what the allergy is:

Knowing what the allergy is makes treatment a little easier!

  • If you know your dog is sensitive to flea bites, it’s crucial to keep up with her regular flea treatments. Your vet can provide guidance on the best option for your dog.
  • For a dog with environmental allergies, small lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Try regularly washing her with hypoallergenic shampoo, keeping your house (and her dog bed) clean, moving her to another room while you vacuum and wiping her paws and body when she comes inside after being on grass.
  • If you know your dog has a protein allergy, it’s important to get clued up on food labels. For example, a pet food may be promoted as a ‘chicken’ recipe, but if you look closer at the ingredients list you might also find pork or beef. Some brands use multiple proteins or change their recipes without notice, so it’s worth doing your research.
  • If your dog has an allergy to a grain or ‘filler’ product, again it’s important to read food labels and do your best to eliminate it from her diet. Make sure you tell your friends, family, and anyone else who might look after your dog to ensure they only feed the foods you provide them.

When it comes to dealing with allergies, a holistic approach is the way to go. Focus on:

  • Getting your dog’s diet right. A diet based on meat, organs and bone offers all the nutrients she needs to start building a resistance to allergies and re-balancing her immune system. Start with a ZIWI Peak Air-Dried recipe like Venison if your dog has a particularly sensitive stomach.
  • Reducing inflammation with omega-3 fatty acids. While all ZIWI recipes contain 3% whole Green Lipped Mussel (a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as glucosamine for joint health), their Mackerel & Lamb recipe contains the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids and is especially helpful for reducing inflammation and improving skin health and coat condition.
  • Managing stress. If your dog doesn’t have enough mental stimulation, physical exercise, or positive interaction with people, she may start to feel stressed and anxious – which can wreak havoc on her immune system. Dogs are very aware of the atmosphere around them, so try to create a safe and positive environment for them to live.
  • Regular checkups. Visit your vet regularly so they can keep an eye on your dog’s overall health.

Just because dog allergies are common doesn’t mean you have to put up with them. There’s always something you can do to help your furry friend!

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