Fleas, Seasonal Allergies, or Food Allergies? How to Tell Them Apart in Your Pet & How to Treat Them

Fleas, Seasonal Allergies, or Food Allergies? How to Tell Them Apart in Your Pet & How to Treat Them

We’ve all probably seen our dogs lick or scratch themselves…they’re dogs, that’s what they do!

If done once in a while, it’s not a problem. However when this becomes a frequent activity, something serious may be bothering your dog, and he’s certainly uncomfortable. What I’m talking about are canine allergies.

Now allergies are not the only reason that dogs itch. There are other conditions that can cause itching such as a drug reaction; a bacterial infection; a fungal infection; a disease like pancreatic, liver or renal disease – these are just a few examples. Therefore it’s important to see your veterinarian to rule out any serious conditions.

However, today we’re going to focus on allergies.

So the most common sign of an allergy in your dog is itching. They itch ALL OVER.

So they scratch, chew, and lick their skin, paws, or ears. Chronic allergies are miserable for both pets and pet parents…they’re miserably itchy and you want to help them feel better which can take time and money until you figure out what’s wrong.

The three most common types of canine allergies are:

  • Flea bite hypersensitivity or ‘flea allergies’
  • Atopy or ‘atopic dermatitis’ and
  • Food hypersensitivity or ‘food allergies’.

Let’s take these one at a time…

Flea Bite Hypersensitivity or ‘Flea Allergy’

It’s estimated that about 40% of all dogs are hypersensitive to flea bites. Actually a sensitivity to the flea saliva is a very common condition in dogs. The flea will bite the dog, but it’s actually the injection of the saliva (not the bite) that causes most of the itching. So your dog isn’t necessarily infested with fleas, but rather the saliva of just one or two fleas can make him miserably itchy and uncomfortable for many weeks (even long after the fleas are gone).

Flea-bite hypersensitivity usually gets worse throughout the dog’s life. Each year, the signs of the allergy will start earlier and last longer in the ‘flea season’ and the itching will be more severe.

Next Is Atopy or ‘Atopic Dermatitis’

This can be roughly comparable to hayfever in humans, except that instead of a runny nose and sneezing, your dog will itch. About 10 to 15 percent of all dogs have ‘atopic dermatitis’, also referred to as ‘seasonal allergies.’  What this means is that your dog may simply have an allergy to something in the environment.

As a general rule, if your dog is allergic to something inside your home he’ll have year-round symptoms. If he’s reacting to something outdoors, it could very well be a seasonal problem.

So what you would typically see is excessive itching or scratching, chewing their paws, biting their fur, or red spots known as ‘hot spots’ on their skin. A hot spot is a condition which involves an area of the skin which has become inflamed and infected – it’s a bacterial infection. The affected skin often appears as a moist, oozing, reddened area that’s painful and very itchy to the dog. Hair loss may also be seen. Continued licking and chewing at the area by the dog worsens the condition dramatically. Anything that causes itchiness of the skin can lead to the development of hot spots on dogs. Some common triggers are environmental allergens such as grasses, pollen, ragweed, various trees, weeds, mold spores, dust, and dust mite droppings.

Dogs may be exposed to these allergens through breathing them in or exposure through the skin. The most common sites that atopic dogs focus on are the feet – licking or chewing; the face – which they will rub against carpet or furniture; and the tummy, groin and “armpit” areas.

Last but Not Least Is Food Hypersensitivity or ‘Food Allergies’

So a TRUE allergy to food is less common than many dog owners believe. Some experts estimate this occurrence to be between 1 and 5 percent.  And almost half of all dogs who suffer from food allergies also exhibit other hypersensitivities, which makes it even more difficult to diagnose.

Clinical signs of a food allergy are extremely variable. The skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, central nervous system and any combination of these may be affected.  The skin, however, is most frequently involved. There seems to be a generalized itchiness all over the body. The foods most known to cause hypersensitivity in dogs include:  beef, dairy products, corn, wheat, soy, and rice.

Food hypersensitivity can begin at any age, even late in the dog’s life.

So there are many reasons why your dog would be licking or scratching themselves.

What can you do?

Again, once you rule out any serious conditions, pawTree has several options that can help these dogs.

First, Omega Fatty Acid supplements have been found to be incredibly beneficial for allergic dogs. Fatty acids have an amazing anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and dogs respond well to them. Therefore, find a salmon oil that is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which can reduce the severity of chronic dermatitis. It’s a very good choice to help your dog feel good from the inside out.

Next, get an all-natural and safe solution to soothe your dog’s skin at the surface, calming down skin irritations from seasonal allergy itching, skin abrasions, and irritated skin from hot spots – making your dog comfortable and healing the skin. These are often called Hot Spot Spray or Skin Support Plus. Finding one with a soothing blend of Tea Tree Oil, Chamomile and Aloe Vera which work synergistically to treat and ease the discomfort of environmental allergies, scrapes and scratches and other skin problems in dogs is ideal. It provides gentle, natural and immediate relief of itchy or irritated skin.

Many veterinarians prescribe cortisone, which is an anti-inflammatory steroid, to stop the itch-scratch cycle, and antibiotics to fight the infection. But unfortunately, steroids can have serious side effects over an extended period of time. And many topical sprays contain alcohol, lidocaine, hydrocortisone, or other harsh chemical ingredients that can damage, burn or dry out your pet’s skin.

A more natural approach is often the most effective. Australian tea tree oil is a natural healing ingredient that has been used for centuries by Aborigines to protect the skin, reduce inflammation and itching, and clean infected areas. Aloe Vera and Chamomile are soothing ingredients to ease pain and promote healing.  It’s alcohol-free and it won’t sting.

Another helpful product, is a Flea & Tick spray which is a really good choice to protect your pet naturally against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Getting a flea and tick spray with peppermint oil and clove oil extract that kills fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes by contact and helps prevent future infestations naturally (AND you don’t need to wear gloves when applying our product!) is ideal. This kind of product would also repel mosquitoes. It is highly recommended that you also apply it directly on pet bedding, pillows, blankets, carpets, and rugs to make sure that anything your dog touches is ‘flea-free.’

It’s always good to protect your pet at least once a month. If your dog spends time outdoors, at dog parks, near lakes or ponds, or in areas known to have a high concentration of fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, you will want to spray him regularly (even daily if necessary). For best results, remember to treat your dog, AND treat your home – your dog’s bedding or other areas in the house where your dog has been.

Often the itching spreads to your dog’s ears. In fact, dogs who are prone to allergies or have floppy ears can be predisposed to developing ear infections. A good Ear Wash & Dry will bring fast relief to itchy, irritated ears. Getting an all-natural product which contains a soothing mix of chamomile, yucca, clove oil and calendula to both control odor and itching and soothe raw, red and greasy ears naturally is great for dogs. They are alcohol-free and won’t sting. And they’re very easy to use and can be used daily if necessary.

Last but not least, it’s important to remember that a proper nutrition plan can be really effective in helping to fortify overall skin health. Find a quality nutrition plan that can help many dogs with itchy and scratchy skin. The right nutrition is KEY.

Roger MorganRoger Morgan

The CEO and Founder, Roger Morgan, has been in the pet industry for well over 10-years. He has two dogs of his own, Bella and JoJo, who love coming to the office with him. To find out more about Roger Morgan, click here.

pawTree www.pawTree.com

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