Your dog is scratching. Often one immediately thinks of mites or fleas. But there can be something else behind it, for example an allergy. An allergy in dogs can be triggered by the most different causes. Symptoms such as itching or scratching can also be a trigger for it. More details in our article.
What is an allergy? (definition)
A Allergy is an extensive reaction of the immune system to certain, normally harmless substances (allergens). After ingestion of such substances through the body (skin, gastrointestinal tract or through the nose) there is a massive immune reaction of the body.
If certain symptoms of disease are added, one speaks of an allergy. Allergic shock (anaphylaxis), on the other hand, is an extreme allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Allergies are divided into five types (Type-I to Type-VI) depending on how the body reacts more specifically to. Since this subdivision is complicated, however, we will devote ourselves only to the special allergy forms.
What allergies occur most often in dogs?
Although there are many different allergies that a dog can develop, some are more common than others. In our experience to the most common dog allergies:
– Feed allergy or. food intolerance – contact or environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis) – insect bites – parasite allergy
How these Allergies in dogs occur we look at in the next section.
How do allergies develop in dogs? (causes)
Depending on the cause of the allergy symptoms vary greatly. About 15% of dogs suffer from allergies and, as with humans, the number of people affected has been increasing steadily for years. The causes of the most widespread allergies in dogs are:
Food allergy or. Feed intolerance
The Food allergy is the most common form of allergy in dogs. Certain breeds of dogs (Franz. Bulldog, Pug, English Bulldog, German Shepherd, Labrador, Shar Pei, Boxer) tend to develop more food allergies. Cause are ingredients in the feed, such as certain meats (protein sources) or carbohydrate sources (such as.B. certain cereals).
Among the most important allergens among the proteins, eggs as well as dairy products are. Preservatives and other substances needed to produce the feed can also lead to feed intolerance. It is important to note that certain types of meat a cross-reaction show how z. B. Beef-. Lamb. Beef and lamb. The proteins of these two species are very similar in structure, so the body cannot distinguish between them.
contact or environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis)
Among the Environmental allergies include pollen, grass, or mold allergies. Most often such allergies are seasonal (in spring or summer). In the case of a contact allergy, direct contact with the material must have taken place beforehand.
This concerns mostly collars, food bowls, cleaning as well as detergents. Certain animals such as the oak processionary moth can also cause a massive allergic reaction. With certain plants or herbs, dogs show symptoms immediately after contact. Most of the time, the cause of the allergic reaction is very difficult to find out. Certain medications (z.B. spot-on preparations) can also trigger a contact allergy.
Insect bites can cause massive allergic reactions, just like with us humans. After a wasp sting, it usually to pain, swelling and redness. However, in extreme cases, it can lead to a life-threatening allergic shock (anaphylactic shock).
In short-nosed dog breeds (Pug, French and English Bulldog, Boxer, Boston Terrier, King Charles, Pekinese and Maltese) an insect bite can even be fatal.
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This involves an allergic reaction to fleas (or. to flea saliva), ticks, mites (z.B. the dust mite) and worms. Through the flea bite the flea saliva will distributed in the skin, causing a pronounced skin reaction. mites can either live in the environment or in your dog's skin. Thus, the skin of your dog reacts allergic to certain types of mites.
How to recognize an allergy in a dog? (symptoms)
The Symptoms of allergy in dogs are versatile. Especially itching, scratching and licking can be indicators that a dog suffers from an allergy. Typical symptoms are:
– itching – licking of the paws and flank – oozing inflammation of the skin – hair loss – hives (urticaria) – swelling of the face – ear infections – vomiting and diarrhea – behavioral changes
Unlike humans, dogs rarely have a runny nose (rhinitis allergica) or extensive sneezing.
It is not possible to predict exactly when an allergy will break out. Mostly the dog must already several times in contact with the allergen have come.
Dogs affected by food allergy usually show gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence), extreme itching, ear infections or even the formation of hotspots. Hotspots are circular, weeping and painful spots in the coat that must be treated immediately.
In order to find out which allergy is present in a particular case, offers of course an allergy test at.
How does an allergy test work in dogs?? (diagnosis)
The diagnosis of allergy is not always easy. Often, the reason for the allergic reaction is not obvious, so that various tests can not give a reliable conclusion. So can also healthy dogs positive test results have, without there being an allergy. Exactly the opposite, can be allergic dogs negative test results show.
Accordingly, an allergy test should only be carried out if all other diseases excluded Are. Only after mites, fleas, bacteria, fungi or hormonal disorders have been ruled out, should an allergy test be performed. This usually involves a Skin scraping and a large blood count necessary. The following allergy tests are available for dogs:
Many people know this examination from themselves. With the intradermal test (intradermal test or "wheals") Various allergens injected into the skin and judged by the reaction. If at the Injection site a swelling and a redness arises, then the dog is allergic to this substance.
The test takes approx. 1 hour and the significance is high. The disadvantages of the test are that this type of Examination performed under sedation and the area has to be shorn completely. In addition, not every veterinary practice has this test, because the execution as well as the storage are costly.
Local reaction after performing an intradermal test Source: Firn/Shutterstock.com
Antibody test (serological test)
With this test blood is taken from the dog. In the laboratory it is then examined whether certain antibodies against food, house dust mites, pollen or molds are present. If antibodies are present, it means that the dog is allergic to these substances. Unfortunately this test has some disadvantages. On the one hand, this test is not necessarily suitable for food allergies and the significance is not very high.
On the other hand, the dog can be positive against certain allergens, even if it is not allergic. This test can additionally be strongly influenced by certain medications (cortisone) are. We generally do not recommend this test, because food allergy sufferers are usually well controlled with an exclusion diet.
Is an allergy test worthwhile for the four-legged friend??
Unlike the name suggests, an allergy test in dogs does not directly look for an allergy. The primary goal is to find those substances that are not present in the dog dog to allergy symptoms, so that dog owners can avoid them in the future.
Accordingly, the allergy test in dogs is usually not the first step, but is used when the cause of the symptoms can not be found.
This is because the symptoms are often caused by other factors, easily treatable causes there are, such as parasites, bacteria or fungi. If nothing of this kind is found, then an allergy test can be the next step in the search for the cause.
What does such an allergy test cost?
There is no blanket answer to the question of the cost of allergy testing in dogs.
In addition to the veterinarian's working hours and the cost of materials, a laboratory must occasionally be consulted to evaluate the tests. Contact your veterinarian, to get an overview of the costs involved.
How to treat allergies in dogs? (therapy)
Depending on which allergy it is, in each case there is also other examinations and treatments useful. It is not always possible to find out what the allergy is.
In dogs that have never had problems with allergy before and where it occurs for the first time, often first treated only the symptoms. This means that the itching, skin or ear inflammation as well as diarrhea is first treated with medication.
If the symptoms have occurred only once, then it is probably an allergy to a one time reaction. Medication that suppresses chronic itching should only be given in exceptional cases in the long term. If the cause is found and eliminated, the symptoms usually stop in a few weeks.
If one has the Suspicion of a food allergy or. Food intolerance, there is the possibility of a so called. Exclusion diet. This means that over a period of 8 to 10 weeks, a feed with each fed a source of protein and carbohydrates is. During this period the dog must not be given anything else to eat! Even a small treat can cause allergic reactions again!
When the symptoms completely disappeared after this test phase are, then it is an indirect evidence that it is a reaction to the food. If during this testing phase one notices that the symptoms are still present, then one should change the feed again. In addition, there is always the possibility of a hypoallergenic feed. This means that the protein contained in it has been altered in such a way (the so-called. the dog's immune system no longer recognizes it as foreign. So that no allergic reaction takes place.
Desensitization or. Hyposensitization
The Desensitization or specific immunotherapy is a therapeutic method for the treatment of allergies. The dog is gradually accustomed to the allergy-causing substance. The dog's body is initially confronted with a very small dose of the allergen. Gradually you increase this dose until a habituation effect has occurred is.
In order to use this form of therapy, it must be known exactly what the dog is allergic to. The success of this therapy is very different and varies from dog to dog. It does not automatically mean that after the end of the therapy the dog is completely allergy free, but often the Quality of life of your four-legged friend increases become.
If allergy is suspected in one's own pet, it is always advisable to consult a veterinarian. Our veterinarians at Dr. SAM will gladly advise you on this!
Can you prevent a dog allergy?
Preventing an allergy is only possible when The cause has been identified. You can never know in advance what the dog is allergic to, to avoid contact. However, a good Parasite prophylaxis from allergic reactions, related to parasites (flea saliva allergy, reaction to mites).