Most folks associate allergies with springtime. But even when trees are bald and the ground is grassless you might notice your dog acting a bit off. If you see Fido compulsively licking their paws or uncontrollably itching, allergies may still be to blame.
Much like humans, canine allergy sufferers experience a heyday of frustrating symptoms that significantly decrease their quality of life. The key to long-term relief is addressing the cause of these allergens instead of merely treating the symptoms.
When it comes to allergy relief you can’t focus on treatment alone. Distinguishing seasonal allergies from food-related allergies will ultimately help you chart an appropriate course of action.
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Signs of Pet Allergies
You know your pet better than anyone. No matter how sensitive or stoic they are, some signs can be difficult to spot. Below are several common symptoms seasonal allergy suffers usually display. Brush up on your tells so you are in the know when there’s a potential issue.
- Red or irritated skin. Itchy skin often follows the inflammatory response that comes from contact with an allergen. It could be a brush with some bush or grass that doesn’t sit well or pollen in the air that sticks to fur.
- Swollen eyes. As the mucosal membranes swell, dogs might find soft tissues like eyes and gums inflamed. If they’re streaming tears, it’s likely the system’s way of attempting to flush the trigger.
- Ear odor or redness. All the sinus system is intricately connected. During an allergy attack, the ear canals may swell almost closed, but not before emitting a strong stench or crusting over entirely.
- Incessant itching or licking. Constant scratching and/or licking in one spot can create a raw patch of skin under the fur. With the addition of moisture, this can create an abrasion known as a ‘hot spot’, an area of skin that may bleed or become infected without treatment.
- Hair loss. Whether dislodged by itching and scratching or as an autoimmune response to an allergen, hair loss is extremely common if your pet suffers from allergies.
- Face rubbing. On account of their overall itchy disposition, don’t be surprised to see your dog rub their face on different surfaces in an attempt to get some relief.
- Head shaking. Hear ears flapping and notice your dog shake as though they’re attempting to ‘dry off’? Fluid inside the sinus cavity could be to blame.
Now that you know what to look out for, the natural inclination is probably to commence treatment. Though we’re used to reaching for Claritin or an antihistamine to alleviate our own allergy symptoms, make sure to do your research before extending the same to your pup.
Safety of Benadryl for Dog Allergies
Though some over the counter medicines are perfectly safe for dogs, Benadryl included, there are some details that shouldn’t be overlooked. From dosage to potential complications, make sure you know how to keep Spot safe if administering an antihistamine.
Most vets agree that Benadryl, a diphenhydramine based antihistamine, can safely treat some mild-to-moderate seasonal allergies in dogs. It also addresses:
- Minor itchiness or hives
- Sneezing and coughing
- Swelling and inflammation
- Runny nose and eyes
If you’ve ever taken it yourself, you know it’s very likely to cause drowsiness. That means if you’re about to take a long car trip or your dog gets anxious when traveling, it will also work for their mild anxiety or motion sickness. Though remember that it does take upwards of an hour to make its way through the system.
There’s also some evidence to show that diphenhydramine can alleviate adverse allergic reactions to some heartworm medications. (Talk to your vet for more details.)
Benadryl Dosage for Dogs
Never guesstimate how much Benadryl to give your dog. Only a vet is qualified to make that determination.
However, as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to delve out about 1 mg per pound. You can also dose multiple times a day depending on how severe the symptoms present. For seasoned allergy sufferers during heavily pollinated days, up to three doses could be necessary. Ask your Vet to help you come up with a plan for the dose amount and number of times to divvy it out.
Keep in mind that dogs more readily accept the children’s formula, which comes in both a liquid and pill. Check the specifications to confirm the dosage amounts of each.
Until you are confident your dog can readily accept the medication, it’s important to pay close attention to their reaction. Negative reactions are likely to come on within the first our. Contact your vet if you see these signs that your dog’s system is rejecting the medication:
- Dry mouth or over salivation
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Rapid breathing or increased heart rate
If your dog suffers from chronic conditions like glaucoma, hypertension, seizures or cardiovascular disease, discuss whether Benadryl could complicate them. If the dryness they’re experiencing in their eyes or skin is chronic, over the counter meds won’t do much to alleviate it. Make sure you’re specifically attempting to treat allergies before you administer.
Dogs who are pregnant or nursing may not be the best candidates for anti-histamines. Check with your vet before you proceed.
When it comes to feeding dogs medications meant for humans, Benadryl does appear to be one of the rare treatments that are acceptable for dogs, too. Still, it’s important to make sure you’re treating seasonal allergies and not food-related allergies. The two look similar but don’t share much in common aside from their symptoms.
Detecting Food Allergies in Dogs
Whether man or mutt, food allergies are universally uncomfortable. Problem is while humans can voice their discomfort, our fur friends cannot.
Some allergies come at the hands of a genetic predisposition while others are shaped by environment. Even if you don’t know when or from where a food allergy has developed, knowing how to spot one is arguably more important.
If left untreated, they can be dangerous– hence the call for detection and prevention.
Breed and severity largely determine the specific symptoms of your dog’s allergy. Food-related allergies are often propagated in bloodlines, especially if your puppy came through a breeder. For instance, have a purebred Golden Retriever, Dachshund, or Cocker Spaniel? Their risk of food allergies tends to run slightly higher than other pups.
The signs are similar to those dogs that suffer from seasonal allergies. For example, rashes, hives, and itching may present first as irritants attempt to make an escape through their coat. Licking, especially around the paws, and/or redness in the ears are also common.
Surprised why you haven’t seen gastrointestinal issues make the list? That’s because ailments like vomiting or gas and loose stool may be closer to food intolerance than food allergy. To qualify as a traditional food allergy, it has to trigger an immune response, not simply a difficulty digesting one or two individual ingredients.
What Causes Dog Food Allergies?
Genes are primarily to blame for food allergies. However, food quality also plays a large role.
It’s common for dogs to have more than one food allergy. Even though they are carnivores, proteins are some of the most common culprits as well as plant derivatives including:
- Dairy, Soy
- Pork, Chicken, Lamb, Rabbit, Fish
- Wheat, Corn, Yeast
- Getting Definitive
Elimination diets are the most concrete way to single out a food allergen. However, your vet may also offer some blood tests to make the final determination.
The key to a successful elimination diet is to feed Fido only raw foods for a while, then slowly add in different ingredients after symptoms have cleared. Once you notice a reaction to food, talk to your doctor about making a switch.
While you’re on the health kick, you may also want to consider adding in low-inflammation, allergy reducing foods to hasten their progress.
Food to Alleviate Animal Allergies
It’s been a journey to get here. But now that you’ve zeroed in on the symptoms it could be time to try treating allergies with natural foods instead of over the counter medication.
With just five simple, all-natural foods you can help bring some sweet relief to your canine allergy sufferer. Next time you’re out grocery shopping be sure to stock up on:
- Raw Honey. Using honey to treat allergies makes logical sense when you consider the source. Ingesting small amounts of sweetened pollen from your area gives your dog’s body a chance to build up an immunity to them. It’s one reason why local, raw unfiltered honey is so effective for treating dog allergies. If you can find local, raw wildflower honey, stock up! It fuses the pollen of several different flowers and plants for added benefits.
About a tablespoon twice daily should do the trick if you have a large pup like a Shepard. For smaller breeds, consult your veterinarian for dosing recommendations. Just make sure to give it daily to ward off symptoms for the long-term.
- Apples and Broccoli. These fruits and veggies, in particular, are packed with phytonutrients called Quercetin. Its antioxidant, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties make it an ideal choice for combating annoying allergies. Often referred to as “Nature’s Benadryl”, the flavonoid is especially effective at providing itch relief caused by inflammation. Quercetin also inhibits immune cells from pumping histamines out and into the system.
Green tea is also said to have a detectable amount of quercetin, but the biggest health gains are reported with high concentrations that are formulated as a supplement.
- Coconut oil. Whether used as a topical or ingested with their high-quality dog food the vitamins, minerals and essential fats in coconut oil have been shown to make marked improvements to dog allergies. For both seasonal and food-related allergies, coconut oil heals from the inside out. Not only does it aid the digestive system’s natural ability to break down food and extract nutrients, it’s also anti-microbial by nature. That makes this essential oil a clear choice for helping holistically heal hot spots and other skin ailments caused by allergies.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. In tandem with the coconut oil mentioned above, omega-3s are said to be a powerful natural remedy for dog allergies. Whether you use supplements or an all-natural feed with high concentrations, optimizing omega-6s and making omega-3s a high priority is a sure way to provide some relief. Keep in mind that omega-3 fatty acids are light and heat sensitive. That means if the food is processed it could kill off the benefits.
They’re best known for decreasing inflammation so environmental allergies that might otherwise send Fido into an uncontrollable itch could lose their grip. Natural sources of omega 3s include fish oils from tuna, krill, salmon oil, tuna oil, and anchovy.
- Sprouted Seeds. A healthy immune system depends on a healthy swath of bacteria in the gut. When sufficient and in balance, this bacteria helps keep your dog’s allergies in check. Foods that are rich in prebiotics and probiotics can help!
In addition to their high pre and probiotic count, sprouted seeds protect against pet allergies with a host of bioavailable vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The easily absorbed nutrients help contribute to a thriving gut flora that can keep allergens at bay.
Seasonal and food allergies can severely impact the immune system. Whether your pup is troubled by a specific symptom or you notice a change in appetite, it’s always best to speak to your vet sooner rather than later. Without diagnosis and treatment, the damage to your pet’s digestive and immune system could be severe. Plus, there’s nothing sadder than a pup that’s feeling sick and uncomfortable. Just remember to consult a veterinary professional that knows your dog before making any drastic dietary changes or additions.
Regardless of which avenue you choose for allergy relief, the more you can limit or prevent exposure to the irritant in question the better off your pooch will be. At the very least, make sure your pup is on a diet consisting of high-quality dog food manufactured to the highest standards.
Doing so reduces their risk over the long-term and markedly impacts their overall quality of life for the better!