By Monica Mendoza
Just like us humans, our dogs can be prone to skin allergies, causing them to scratch, itch, and chew at their skin and fur. This can cause not only unattractive, bald patches on their coat but possible wounds and injuries as well.
Fortunately, there are ways to help manage your dog’s skin allergies, or even prevent them from being triggered – with some you can do even before a veterinarian has to get involved. Below is a list to helpful tips you can implement in case you’ve noticed your dog scratching and itching more than usual.
Prevent flea infestation at all costs. Nothing can trigger or exacerbate a dog’s skin allergy faster and more effectively than fleas. In fact, it would only take a couple of bites from a lone flea to get your furry companion to scratch themselves until they’ve gouged bloody scratches onto their skin. Imagine, then, how they would feel with a full-blown flea infestation. As such, you should always have your dog on some sort of flea prevention method as much as possible. Giving them regular anti-flea treatment baths and powders are both effective solutions.
Buy only hypoallergenic accessories for your dog. Another similarity between dogs and humans when it comes to skin allergies is that the materials making up their accessories could also trigger an allergic reaction. Some dogs, for example, can get contact dermatitis from metal collars, while others may get skin irritation from wool covers on their beddings. In such cases it’s recommended to just get a brand new dog collar or cover, preferably one that’s made of hypoallergenic material and clearly sold as such. You may have to work with your veterinarian to verify what is hypoallergenic to your dog and what isn’t.
Maintain a strict diet. While the occasional store-bought treat is harmless and can give your dog a great mood boost, it’s always a good idea to keep your dog on a strict and hypoallergenic diet. Use fruit or brightly-colored vegetables (such as carrots) as treats instead of those with preservatives or artificial flavorings. Avoid giving your dog anything that has poultry, dairy or beef in it, as they are common allergy triggers.
Give your dog regular baths. Some dogs love baths while others just won’t get one without a fight. Whichever category your dog falls into, it’s important for them to be bathed one or twice a week – preferably with a gentle, soap-free shampoo formulated especially for canines. If you’ve already been to the veterinarian, then they should have already prescribed a medicated shampoo for your dog to use. Also, be sure to wash off all the shampoo suds off your dog completely, as any leftover suds may cause itching.
Have your dog undergo allergy testing and immunization therapy. Figuring out what is responsible for your dog’s allergy can be a trial of patience and anxiety. If you and your dog are both at your wits’ ends, you can go right to the veterinarian and have them perform allergy testing on your canine companion. From there, it’s possible that your dog will have to undergo immunotherapy – i.e. having your dog regularly injected with serum in order to desensitize them to their allergens and train their immune systems to ‘ignore’ the allergens. This may be a cost-prohibitive measure and involve multiple visits, but you’ll no longer have to worry about your dog having an allergic reaction, especially if it turns out that his allergens are something very common (such as pollen or even human dander).
Skin allergies are no picnic, especially for a dog. However, as their owners and companions, we can take certain steps in order to prevent our pets from developing these allergies. As with all medical advice, however, if you’re not sure about your dog’s allergies, it’s always a good idea to skip the self-diagnosis and go straight to the veterinarian.