Your pooch may think he is invincible—eating anything within reach and getting into everything possible—but dogs happen to have allergies too! Dr. Christopher Brunner, a veterinarian at New Fairfield Animal Hospital, shared with us his advice about diagnosing and managing dog allergies.
“The first sign your dog has allergies is if he or she suffers from itchiness of ears, paws, underarms, and other places. When your dog is scratching all the time, the skin where they scratch can become infected. At this point, many people take their dogs to the vet because they notice the infection, but may not realize the root problem is an allergy. Dog allergies tend to come from three different sources: food, seasons, and fleas.”
1) Food Allergies
“This allergy can be easier to solve than others because all one needs to do is find the right foods for their dog. The important thing is to be attentive to what you are feeding your dog and note how he or she responds after eating it. If you think your dog may have a food allergy, speak with your veterinarian about whether or not a hypoallergenic diet may be the right choice.”
2) Seasonal Allergies
“Seasonal allergies are frustrating to manage and difficult to diagnose since it is impossible to remove all the pollens from the air! Allergy injections are the closest thing to a cure that is currently available. A serum can also be given by mouth, making it easier for dogs to take and their humans to administer. However, finding the right allergy cocktail can be time-consuming and expensive.
We treat most dogs’ seasonal allergies with medications. The most common drug-types are steroids and antihistamines, but both of these options have drawbacks. Steroids have unpleasant long-term side effects, and antihistamines like Benadryl® have little effect on dogs. We have recently found a new drug to treat seasonal allergies: Apoquel®. It is neither a steroid nor an antihistamine. Apoquel® is in a different class of drug altogether, and provides a similar level of relief without the side effects steroids have. This drug is new to our practice, and we are still working out its best uses and doses. Medicine is an art as well as a science, so we are monitoring how Apoquel® is working and adjusting prescriptions as needed.
Other products that may help with your dog’s seasonal allergies are using special shampoos and topical therapies. Air conditioning and air purifiers can lessen the allergy responses too.”
3) Flea Allergies
“Dogs are allergic to flea saliva, so treatments that prevent flea and tick infestation will nip this allergy in the bud. Even if your dog has never had fleas before, prevention is always a step in our management of dog allergies.”
Diagnosing Your Dog’s Allergy
“You can most likely guess what type of allergy your dog has by paying attention to the cycles in their itchiness. Do they itch constantly year-round? It is more likely to be a food allergy. Does their itching correlate with the change in seasons? You’ve got a seasonal allergy on your hands. And fleas? Get out a magnifying glass and look for tiny jumping black dots. But most importantly, don’t ignore an itchy dog!”
About New Fairfield Animal Hospital:
New Fairfield Animal Hospital has served dogs and cats for 8 years. The hospital has a small staff of 10, with 3 doctors, a pet spa and a full groomer. They have developed many good practices that set them apart from other animal hospitals. Their laparoscopic surgery for dog spays makes it more of an outpatient procedure; the dogs heal faster and experience less pain. They also have a wellness plan called SmartCare that sets up a monthly fee covering basic pet care, so their patients do not have any large annual wellness bills. They encourage people to bring in their dogs early before a problem becomes severe. That way the treatment is more affordable, and can address the problem rather than having to reverse damage done by symptoms. They also recommend PoochieBells as a great communication and training tool for every puppy they see!