Allergies can be quite a stick in the mud for both humans and dogs. At least where humans are concerned, they are able to verbally communicate their discomfort. Dogs do not make it easy for you to make sense of their allergies.
Perhaps the most infuriating part of it all is that there are several crossovers between symptoms. Symptoms that we usually associate with a disease can be indicative of an allergy. By the same token, it is easy to conclude that you are dealing with an allergy when there is a more sinister condition at play.
The best way to go about it is to combine various symptoms before reaching a conclusion. Allergy supplements for dogs tend to be the saving grace. They provide relief for your canines, and peace of mind for us.
This article will cover how to accurately identify allergy symptoms as well as the allergy supplements for dogs that you can use to manage them.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a body’s overreaction to the presence of a stimulus. This stimulus is then referred to as an allergen (an antigen, in this case). We will cover some of the most common allergens in greater detail later on. Most allergens are common. This is the measure through which we can say there has been some over-reaction.
When presented with the prospect of danger, your dog’s body prepares to fight. In the cases of most allergies there is an increase in the production of mast cells’ organic compound histamine. Histamine has an effect on the surrounding smooth muscles and blood vessels. There is dilation when there is a need to permit an immune response.
Due to hypersensitivity, antigens that pose no actual harm or minimal harm to the body cause mast cells to release an overdose of histamine to rid the body of this problem. This is what we then see as an allergic reaction. The symptoms are visible. In most cases, they can be managed. There are a few cases where there is an imminent danger if the dog does not receive prompt intervention.
The most dangerous of these are the ones that cause a reaction of constriction of the airways.
Allergy Symptoms in dogs
Dog allergies can be divided into categories based on their triggers and the areas that they mainly affect. You can divide them into skin allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergies. There are several other ways to do this, but we will keep it simple for the purpose of this article. Other factors that often come into play include the speed of reaction to the presence of an antigen. The faster the reaction time is, the higher the risks tend to be. This is not quite an ironclad law, as you will find with some allergies. A slower reaction time presents challenges of its own.
Skin allergies or canine allergic dermatitis present in various forms. There are a handful of causes that are usually implicated. These are fleas, food, contact, and inhalation. We will cover these briefly.
It is also worth mentioning that there is one form of skin allergies that is hereditary. This form is known as the canine atopic dermatitis. The key difference between this one and the non-hereditary one is that it may take you years to realize that your dog has the latter. It tends to go asymptomatic for a while.
The saving grace is that skin allergies tend to be gradual in their development. This allows us the opportunity to identify them and take action. They are often more contained within small areas. You have the option to treat the reaction topically.
The first thing to do about skin allergies is to manage the symptoms. Identify the discomfort that your dog is struggling with and manage it. In some cases it may come down to minimizing the damage that the dog can cause to itself. You can do this by limiting the space that it has access to and covering its paw and teeth.
Food allergies tend to be among the more feared ones. This is because of the hypersensitivity that they are often accompanied by. The worst-case scenarios would result in anaphylaxis. This is an immediate form of hypersensitivity. The effects that the antigen has on the dog are immediately visible and can often be life-threatening.
For food allergies, you would want to ensure that you identify the food that has caused this reaction to stop it from happening again. Depending on the severity of the reaction, you may want to immediately get in touch with your veterinary. There are test kits that can be used to find out some of the things that you cannot figure out yourself.
Environmental allergies can either be seasonal or non-seasonal. The seasonal ones are the ones that will present themselves during the same period of the year every year. Examples of these from the human perspective will include hayfever allergies. These are at their height in autumn, when the flowers are in bloom.
Whether the allergy is seasonal or non-seasonal preparation goes a long way. If you have a treatment method that has worked for your dog in the past, you want to keep it handy.
Fleas are our dogs’ nemesis. They can also become ours if they infest an area. Under normal circumstances, a dog can endure flea bites. The exception to this case would be that of flea allergy dermatitis. This is a form of hypersensitivity to flea bites. While flea bites’ effects will usually wear off within a few minutes. Flea allergies dermatitis can lead to a hypersensitive reaction that can last several days.
What this means is that there need not be many fleas for a dog that is allergic to them to be severely affected. The best thing that you can do is catch this early and get rid of the fleas.
Fleas are fairly easy to control in comparison to other antigens. There are various shampoos and sprays that you can use on your dogs to provide them with a protective layer that fleas do not fancy.
Atopic dermatitis is an allergic reaction that is caused by particles that your dog inhales. What makes it somewhat of a misnomer is that the inhalants are not necessarily through the nose. They can be a result of particles that enter the dog’s body through the skin. It commonly affects dogs that have a defective skin barrier.
Once these antigens enter the system, the histamine reaction is initiated resulting in itching of the skin. The most affected areas can often be identified by their redness.
One of the most surprising characteristics of atopic dermatitis is that it is commonly an indoor disease. There tend to be more antigens within an enclosed area than there are on the outdoors. This could probably be down to the ease of movement with which the air would travel in open areas. Unfortunately, while going outside may slightly reduce the risk, it is not much of a solution.
Our preferred approach for dealing with inhalant allergies is taking care of the symptoms. You can do just that by applying soothing cream to affected regions. You can also give your dog some antihistamines to minimize the allergic response.
Contact dermatitis is fairly self-explanatory. It is an allergic response that results from making direct physical contact with an antigen. This would result in the dog becoming itchy and uncomfortable. What makes it somewhat difficult to deal with is that while you can treat the symptoms when they appear, it may take a while to identify the antigen.
This is because contact dermatitis symptoms can take several days to show up. By the time that they show up, you may not be able to single out the things that your dog has come into contact with.
Seeing as the symptoms will show up much later than the other allergic responses, a good approach would be to treat them. Once the symptoms are managed, you can then keep a vigilant eye to identify the antigen if you are to ever encounter it again.
List of symptoms
While this list is not necessarily exhaustive. These are the most common symptoms of dog allergies that you will encounter. Keeping an eye out for these may help you provide timely care for your canine if the need was to arise.
It is worth noting that they do not necessarily individually occur. Neither do they all occur at the same time.
- Discharge that looks waxy.
- Redness around the eyes.
- Redness around the nose.
- Hair loss
- Running nose.
- Watery eyes.
- Itchy eyes.
- Drying of the nose.
- Swelling of the gums
- Excessive drooling.
- An inflamed appearance.
- A discharge that looks waxy.
- Redness on the inside.
- An unusual odor.
- Redness in patches or regions of the skin.
- The development of hardened patches (crusts)
- An unusual odor
- Redness of the paws.
- Dry skin.
- The appearance of bald spots.
- Discoloration of the coat.
- Repeated scratching of the affected area.
- Continuous licking of the affected area.
- Rubbing against surfaces to scratch.
- Sudden shaking of the head at regular intervals.
- Insatiable thirst.
- Weight loss
- Rapid heart rate.
- Unusual panting at high rates.
- Change in breathing pattern.
While antigens will sometimes vary. There are some that are common. Knowing them will go a long way in being able to identify the cause of your dog’s discomfort. Here are some that you should be mindful of:
- Pollen from grasses and flowers
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Insect Bites
- Heat sensitivity
Using Allergy Supplements
There are two key supplements that are used to treat allergies. These are Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements and Omega-6 essential fatty acid supplements. We will consider these two supplements in some details to understand what they are and how they benefit your dog.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements
Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements have two key ingredients that your dog will derive tremendous benefits from. These are (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). One of the key benefits of Omega 3 Fatty acid supplements that go a long way when dealing with allergies is their anti-inflammatory properties.
Most allergic reactions are accompanied by an inflammatory response. This is usually resulting from the release of histamine. While a reduction in inflammation does not deal with the cause of the allergic response, it certainly makes life more comfortable for your dog.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids are fairly common in the food that we eat. This makes it easy for your dog to get some of that. It can be found in sardines and other food that is rich in fish oil. The occurrence of allergic reactions does not allow us the chance to get food ready as a way to treat them. This is one of the reasons why supplements are a much better way to deal with things.
Most supplements are also made in such a way that they have a coating to maximize the amount of omega 3 fatty acid that reaches the affected area. This is how therapeutic results can be guaranteed.
Omega 6 essential fatty acid supplements
Omega 6 essential fatty acid supplements have an opposite therapeutic effect to that of omega 3. The main difference that matters when it comes to allergy reactions is where inflammation is concerned. Omega 6 induces a greater inflammatory response while omega 3 reduces inflammation.
Omega 6 fatty acid supplements improve the performance of your dog’s immune system. This is not always the desired effect where an allergic reaction is concerned. You often find that the problem is that you are getting more inflammation than is required. Having said that, an increased and controlled inflammation will also mean that the allergic reaction does not last as long as it would otherwise.
Omega 6 fatty acid supplements are by no means ideal for use in response to most allergic reactions. They must be used selectively. It may be worth speaking with your veterinarian before using these.
Potential Side Effects of allergy supplements
The main side effect that you ought to be mindful of when it comes to Omega 3 supplements is that they cannot be taken together with antiplatelet drugs. There is a significant risk of blood-thinning occurring if this is done.
Omega 6 supplements can raise cholesterol levels. All of these side effects can be managed by making sure that the doses are adhered to.
Other side effects of these supplements include diarrhea when the doses are too high. There are other issues such as low blood pressure, and acid reflux.
How can I soothe my dog’s allergies?
Your dog’s allergies can only be soothed individually. There is no one size fits all approach to this. The best way to soothe them is to consider the symptoms in their right. By understanding what your dog is suffering from, you would also understand how you can intervene. Let us consider the skin as an example.
If your dog’s allergic reaction is causing the skin to become red and inflamed. The soothing will need to be directed at the issue that is causing the dog to be uncomfortable. The redness will not be a cause of discomfort. It’s the inflammation that you would need to soothe.
Understanding the cause of the inflammation will help. You can soothe the allergy by cutting off the antigen. You can also use anti-inflammatory medication to deal with the symptoms. Apply this to any allergy that your dog is dealing with.
How much omega 3 should a dog have daily?
The amount of omega 3 that you give your dog will depend entirely on the size of the dog. A 50lb dog has a recommended dose of 2270mg. The dose can be increased to a maximum of 3227mg. For larger dogs, a 100lb one has a recommended dose of 4550mg. This dose can be increased to a maximum of 5427mg.
Can too much omega 3 be harmful to dogs?
Yes, taking too much omega 3 can cause harm to your dogs. If your dog has an overdose, there is a greater risk of bleeding due to the antiplatelet properties of the supplements. The saving grace is that the omega 3 tends to metabolize quickly.
We have covered a wide range of dog allergies and treatment methods in great detail. The one thing that is left to say is that the allergy supplements are wonderful for dealing with allergies because they enhance the performance of your dog’s immune system. This, of course, means better well-being. The bonus is that they do not come with any worrying side effects.