Dog allergies and dog skin conditions are extremely frustrating to treat. Immediate relief for your itchy dog can be found here www.itchydogtreatment.com The recurring nature of dog allergies leads to ongoing and chronic dog skin problems and frustration for dog owners and veterinarians alike.
Common dog allergies include flea allergy dermatitis, canine atopic dermatitis and food allergy also known as adverse food reaction. Contact allergies with plants and environmental allergens are also quite common. Dog allergies are the biggest cause of dog skin problems.
How do you know if your dog has allergies? What are the signs of allergies in dogs? Here is a video that might help you understand the Symptoms of Dog Allergies.
Flea allergy dermatitis in the dog is extremely common. It is also extremely easy to prevent with modern flea control products. FAD manifests as a dog skin rash on the caudal dorsal trunk and the base of the tail. Your pet is probably chewing and scratching at the back end and the tail base. The rash is red and very itchy. Your dog may have visible fleas and flea dirt also. You won’t always see fleas however and here is the frustration for dog owners. One flea will cause FAD. Flea allergy dermatitis is an acute allergic reaction to the flea saliva. The itch begins almost immediately causing a maddening pruritis that your pet will scratch at and even self mutilate. FAD is one of the most common causes of skin rashes on dogs.
Regular flea control is important in managing and preventing this condition. The modern oral treatments such as Bravecto, Nexguard and Comfortis are now considered the best flea control products because they are more effective than spot on treatments which was off and do not spread well across dog skin that is inflamed or infected. Skin infections in dogs are very common with flea allergy dermatitis due to intense pruritis and itching and scratching that damages the skin and causes pyoderma. If the skin is abnormal, spot on treatments are very ineffective. Fleas often get a chance to have a few bites on your dog’s skin before they die from spot on insecticides which still triggers an allergic reaction and intense pruritis. Frontline (fipronil) is now largely obsolete and we see a lot of pet owners still using it and being confused about why their pet has FAD. It doesn’t work well anymore.
Bravecto, Nexguard and Comfortis do not wash off and they are extremely safe and very effective. They are extremely effective products because they kill the flea before it gets a chance to inject the allergenic flea saliva. The flea is paralysed as the proboscis (tongue) is injected through the skin. Nexguard and Comfortis last for a month and Bravecto lasts for three months. It also seems that Bravecto works well against Demodex mange but resistance may develop into the future. Time will tell. I use Bravecto on my own dogs because of the convenience of the three month treatment regime which I synchronise with their anthelmintic intestinal worming tablet.
Capstar is a wonderfully effective product. If your dog has fleas, a single tablet will kill them fast. The only frustration is that the treatment is needed to be administered daily. Capstar has therefore been largely superseded by the longer acting oral products.
Food allergy or adverse food reaction is also a common cause of dog allergies. AFR often starts in the very young and sometimes as soon as your puppy starts on solid food. The symptoms are sometimes subtle. Here is a great video explaining the symptoms of food allergy in dogs.
Adverse Food Reaction commonly starts less than six months of age. You will see skin rashes like many other dog allergies however there is often some subtle symptoms that may give us some clues. Sometimes dogs with food allergy only have ear problems or sometimes only a chronic infection in the same ear. Sometimes AFR manifests as “ears and rears” ie your dog has chronic ear problems and an itchy bottom but no other skin problems. This can be an AFR.
A dog with AFR will often rub its face on the ground immediately after eating. This is because the lips are itchy. Dogs with food allergy often get chronic gastrointestinal problems like flatulence, intermittent vomiting and diarrhea and colitis which is seen as mucous on the stools. You may hear your dog having borborygmi which are “tummy rumbles” from food intolerance and an irritated bowel and small intestine. Sometimes the colitis is very mild and you will only see a “skin” on the stool. Sometimes the GI disturbance is violent causing hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
Scooting is one of the signs of a food allergy in dogs.
The common food allergies in dogs are beef, wheat and chicken. dairy is common as well but it tends to cause more gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence as well as colic. Grain free diets aren’t much good if your dog is allergic to beef or chicken.
We are often asked what dog food is good for allergies? Dermatologists actually recommend a home cooked diet to do an initial food trial to see if your dog does actually have a food allergy. You need to use one type of protein (meat) and one type of carbohydrate (vegetable). In Australia we tend to use kangaroo and sweet potato. We used to use potato but it is used in so many commercial foods now that we use sweet potato as a first recommendation. Horse meat is also good as a protein source if it is available and you don’t have ethical issues using it…as for any meat of course.
Commercially available dog foods for AFR need to be used with caution. Many commercial allergy free foods are not actually very good at all. They should really be labelled low allergy rather than allergy free.
At the time of writing, Royal Canin Anallergenic diet is considered the best allergy free dog food. It has superseded Royal Canin hypoallergenic diet. Hills ZD is also very good. Hills ZD is actually a hydrolysed chicken product. About 10% of animals that are allergic to chicken will still react to hydrolysed chicken.
back in the 1990’s fish protein was considered a good additive to allergy free diets. A number of products sprung up such as Eukanuba FP. There is a hangover from this earlier theory with many foods containing fish protein. Dermatologists no longer consider fish protein to be suitable for an allergy free diet. Many foods that are “allergy free” contain fish protein. They may work in selected cases but are not considered the best choice since fish is a common allergen in cats as well as dogs.
Food allergy is also a common underdiagnosed cause of hotspots on dogs. Hot spots on dogs are caused from intense pruritis generated from an allergic reaction which induces the animal to scratch at the area. Constant and intense scratching damages the skin causing it to weep. The hair then sticks to the weeping sore and the bacteria on the skin explode causing a severe dog skin infection we call a moist eczema or hot spot. It is a severe skin infection created from self mutilation. Food allergy is not the only cause but it is often an under diagnosed cause of a dog hot spot.
We’d strongly recommend you go to your veterinarian if your dog has a hot spot but here’s an interesting video about hotspots on dogs and how you can treat them at home if you cannot get to a veterinarian or your veterinarian is closed.
You may also like these home remedies for hotspots on dogs.
What causes hot spots on dogs? generally they are caused from an allergic reaction to biting insects such as fleas, mosquitoes or midges, food allergy or atopic dermatitis. In rare circumstances it can be caused from a wet coat that traps water on the skin causing an infection but generally it is an intense pruritis from an allergic reaction that causes excessive scratching and self mutilation.
The most common dog skin conditions are caused by canine atopic dermatitis or atopy. This video is a fun look at common dog skin conditions.
Atopic dermatitis is a very frustrating problem. It is recurrent and drives dog owners to despair. Atopy typically starts between twelve months and two years of age but can start anywhere from one to six years of age. It looks like this.
Dogs with atopy have a skin barrier defect. The dog skin irritation is caused from water loss and drying out of the skin. The defective skin barrier loses water through the skin and is permeable to the entrance of allergens such as pollen, dust mite antigens and moulds. This is what causes canine atopic dermatitis.
Dog skin in canines with atopy is missing a protein called sphingosine in the ceramide layer that holds all the skin cells together. It is pretty complicated to explain so here is a video with great pictures that helps you understand the skin barrier defect in canine atopy and why it causes dry skin on dogs and an itchy red rash. Watch the video about dry skin on dogs.
Canine atopic dermatitis occurs where the dog has limited hair covering such as the feet, the groin, the abdomen, the axilla and the inside of the ears. The skin dries out and there is an allergic reation as allergens go transdermal across the skin triggering mast cells to release histamine creating a red itchy rash and pruritis. This makes the dog lick and scratch.
Canine atopic dermatitis can only be cured by desensitisation using immunotherapy. Your dog needs to have a blood test and a skin prick test to work out what your dog is allergic to. Once the allergens are established, they are made into vaccines for immunotherapy. The common practice today is to start “rush therapy” over one day so that the dog can then go onto a simple monthly injection. This works in about 60% of cases.
For dog owners that cannot afford skin allergy testing and immunotherapy, we are left with trying to manage canine atopic dermatitis using a combination of treatment options.
Historically, veterinarians have used corticosteroids such as prednisolone. It is inexpensive and it works well but some dogs do develop severe side effects and sudden withdrawal can send your dog into a potentially fatal Addisonian crisis or hypoadrenocorticism. Side effects of chronic use include iatrogenic Cushings Syndrome or hyperadrenocorticism, diabetes mellitus, liver disease or a fatty liver, thinning of the skin, immunosuppression leading to chronic and recurrent infections and gut problems, gastrointestinal ulceration, osteoporosis, thromboembolism and in particular pulmonary embolism and brain infarctions from microthrombi.
A lot of dog owners do not like using corticosteroids due to the extensive list of severe side effects. Cyclosporin (Atopica) is also effective but is a very expensive treatment option. A new medicine is also available to treat canine atopy and it is really very good and very safe. The new drug is called oclacitinib (Apoquel). We love it. It works really well and it is very safe for long term use. Apoquel unfortunately is quite expensive. It is well worth the investment however since your dog will stop scratching and stinking within five days and will live a happier itch free life without the severe and damaging side effects of corticosteroids.
Due to the costs of the more effective medical treatments for canine atopic dermatitis, we are frequently asked about natural remedies for dogs with allergies. Whilst the above mentioned treatments are better, there is no doubt that there is actually quite a lot you can do to help your itchy dog stop scratching.
We would always recommend you take your pet to your veterinarian for the very best advice and for a proper diagnosis. This is important as there are some conditions that can mimic dog allergies. It is a reality unfortunately that proper veterinary care can be expensive and may be beyond the means of some people. There is many things that you can do. Here is an informative video about home remedies for dog allergies
If you are interested in home remedies, homeopathy ideas for dog skin and natural treatments for dog skin problems, then you may be interested in a book called “Treating The Itchy Scratching Dog The Natural Way.”
The book talks about home remedies for dog skin irritation and what to put on dogs itchy skin. The book focuses on dog skin irritation home treatment using natural remedies for dogs with allergies.
This book is the comprehensive guide for do it yourself home remedies for dog allergies.
The strategies, treatments and therapies outlined in the book are also best practice for dogs undergoing traditional veterinary therapies prescribed by a veterinarian for dog allergies. You can use this book whether you are seeking alternative therapies or to supplement your dogs veterinary treatment.
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