Thump, thump, thump, shake, slurp, slurp. Does this sound familiar? Is your dog scratching, licking and shaking? Most dog owners go through this at least once or twice, or hundreds of times a day.
Ask any animal dermatologist and they will tell you German Sheppard, Golden Retrievers and Terriers are genetically predisposed to allergies (1). Then add living in San Diego, where you have a 12 month growing season of wonderful pollen, viola, you have a itchy and scratchy dog. What do you do?
Not sure if your dog has allergies? Well, do they have two or more of these symptoms:
– Scratch a lot
– Lick and chew at his paws
– Hot spots and missing patches of fur
– Little red bumps on his belly
– Inflamed or infected ears
There are three categories of allergies: 1) environmental (pollens, fleas, mites), 2) chemicals (plastics, carpets) and 3) food. So, what type of allergy does your dog have? In some cases, they may have all three, but environmental allergies, account for the most common. Environmental allergies, also know as Atopy, are generally seasonal. However, living in a warm climate, seasonal can be a long time. Your dog can be allergic to many different pollen. All of the above mentioned symptoms can occur.
Contact dermatitis (chemicals, plastics and carpets) tend to have symptoms of red bumps, hot spots and intense scratching. This is the second most common kind of allergies.
Food allergies, also having all the symptoms, is the least common allergy and only account for 10 – 15% (2) of dog allergy cases.
As many of the symptoms are shared, they only way to determine which type of allergy is to see your vet. Each category of allergy has a different type of treatment. Also, get your dog to the vet sooner, than later. Chronic ear infections are very common for untreated allergies, and may cause long term damage to your dogs inner ear.
Be prepared for your vet visit. Write down all the symptoms they have and when they are at their best and worst (day, night, after a walk, etc.). Let the vet know what types of toys, food and treats your dog has. Discuss with your vet your flea treatment, and determine if it is time for a change.
Most important, follow your vet’s advice.
If symptoms keep occurring, you may want to visit an animal dermatologist. They specialize in dog allergies.
1- Rusty Muse, DVM, Dipl. ACVD, with Animal Dermatology Clinic in Tustin, Calif
2 – Drs. Foster and Smith Educational Staff