Allergies in dogs

Reggie’s Adoption Day

Within three weeks of adoption Reggie exhibited signs of excessive scratching, licking, and chewing. It was discovered that he had allergies. After almost a year of food trials and an allergy test it was determined that he had both environmental and food allergies. He is allergic to beef, chicken, turkey, carrots, potato, yeast, ragweed, marsh elder, dust mites, and Bermuda grass. Whew!

If you, your child, or your pet has allergies you understand how frustrating having a reaction and dealing with the aftermath can be. This is especially frustrating for a pet because they can’t tell you what hurts or itches.

From environmental allergens Reggie has had ear infections, has rubbed his muzzle raw, licked the fur off of his paws, had hot spots that develop into sores, and most recently chewed the pad open on one of his toes (that one required a bandage, plastic boot, and a cone on his head). He has frequently been on steroid courses, and takes Zyrtec on a regular basis. His food allergy reactions have caused extreme dandruff, ear infections, skin infections, and mucus membrane infections. He has been on steroid courses for this as well.

So what is the solution to controlling such a precarious situation? Well, for the environmental allergies, check www.pollen.com and see what the allergy “forecast” is for your area. The first step might be avoidance for the particular allergies your pet has. Second, avoid walking your dog in areas that are known to have weeds and grasses that your dog is allergic to. Also, if your dog is allergic to grass- like Reggie is- wipe their paws every time they come in the house with a medicated anti-microbial wipe. This has really helped cut down on the number of his reactions during the season. Remember- allergy season lasts until the first hard frost!

During the time of his diagnosis, the melamine in the food from China was going on and being a bit of a worrier….I researched EVERYTHING. Selecting human grade food made in the USA that had a zero recall record was important to me. Also, finding a combination of food that he could eat was a challenge! Reggie also has digestive issues (canine irritable bowel) that means he eats wet food and dry food; he can’t eat dry food alone. This also means that treat labels have to be carefully looked at for questionable ingredients. The verdict was Wellness Simple Duck & Rice (recently changed to Duck & Oatmeal). Wellness has been a great brand for both his food allergies and his digestion.

One note about food, your pet, and other people. People love to offer dogs treats and snacks, often even table food. They’re so cute, they even beg for the food how can you not give it to them?? Table food should be off limits even if your dog does not have food allergies. Many common things people may give to their pets can be dangerous for dogs. The high salt content in mini-franks can cause pancreatitis, grapes can damage the kidneys, and macadamia nuts affect the nervous system and these are all small items people may use for training treats. Your friend at a party may give Fido a chip with guacamole or salsa on it but those avocados can cause vomiting and diarrhea and the onions and garlic can damage red blood cells. If you smoke and your dog happened to be naughty and ate your cigarettes, depending on the weight of your dog and the number of cigarettes he/she ate, the nicotine could cause death. For a list refer to Drs. Foster and Smith Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Dog.

What have your challenges been with environmental or food allergies? What are your solutions or “tricks-of-the-trade”? Allergies are a lifelong problem, requiring evolution and modification of care, please share your stories!

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