Allergy in Dogs
Itchy dog? Could be allergy !!!
Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD) is a chronic genetic condition which predisposes your dog to develop an allergy to environmental allergens that the dog may inhale, such as dust mites, pollens, molds, etc…
Some breeds are predisposed to CAD: Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Westies, Bull Dogs, to name a few. Symptoms can be seasonal or year-long depending on the allergens involved.
Dogs can also have food allergies, and it is not rare that some unlucky dogs will be allergic to several or more allergens, including some food and some environmental allergens.
Allergies in dogs are one of the most frequent reasons for consultation in veterinary practice.
Symptoms of allergies will usually start between 1 and 3 years of age.
Dog allergies will often affect the skin and will usually start with an erythema (inflammation/redness of the skin) and pruritus (itchiness, causing licking, biting or scratching of an area). These symptoms usually affect the ears, feet, face, flanks, the front of elbows or the perineum. Self- inflicted lesions may cause hair loss, crusts and excoriations, coloration of the hair and pigmentation and thickening of the skin. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections and ear infections are frequent complications. Less often the dog may present some conjunctivitis or rhinitis.
Unfortunately, allergies are causing life long problems and you, as the pet owner, and your vet, have to team-up to minimize and maintain control throughout the years. Fortunately, a lot can be done to help him.
As the symptoms are very common, it ‘s hard to differentiate based on them between food allergy and atopy. Treatment will, therefore, start by elimination diet trial with a hypoallergenic food, some omega-3 supplements, a medicated shampoo, and some local or oral therapies. Of course, any concomitant infections will have to be treated as well.
Whether or not you have success controlling the symptoms to confirm the diagnosis by exclusion accurate allergy testing can be done adding another part of the puzzle. If this test gives us some outcome towards environmental allergens involvement, desensitization can be started via Hypo-sensitisation therapy.
Although less frequently, cats can also suffer from allergies. In cats, this will often cause excessive grooming leading to bilateral, symmetric hair loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections. Some allergic cats may also develop some extremely red and itchy plaques on the skin.
Treatment will be similar, and allergy testing and desensitization can also be performed in our feline patients.