Allergies in Dogs
How Are Dog Allergies Diagnosed? continued...
The only way to diagnose a food allergy is to feed your dog a
prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet exclusively for 12 weeks. The
importance of not feeding your dog anything but the diet cannot be emphasized
enough-that means no treats, table food or flavored medication. This diet will
be free of potential allergy-causing ingredients and will ideally have
ingredients your dog has never been exposed to. He’ll remain on the diet until
his symptoms go away, at which time you’ll begin to reintroduce old foods to
see which ones might be causing the allergic reaction.
Please note, many dogs diagnosed with a food allergy will
require home-cooked meals-but this must be done in conjunction with your
veterinarian, as it requires careful food balancing.
How Can Dog Allergies Be Treated?
The best way to treat allergies is to remove the offending
allergens from the environment.
- Prevention is the best treatment for allergies caused by
fleas. Start a flea control program for all of your pets before the season
starts. Remember, outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your
veterinarian for advice about the best flea control products for your dog and
- If dust is the problem, clean your pet's bedding once a week and
vacuum at least twice weekly-this includes rugs, curtains and any other
materials that gather dust.
- Weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental
allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what
prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can
dry out skin.
- If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, she’ll need to be
put on an exclusive prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet. Once the allergy
is determined, your vet will recommend specific foods or a home-cooked
Are There Allergy Medications for Dogs?
Since certain substances cannot be removed from the
environment, your vet may recommend medications to control the allergic
- In the case of airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from allergy
injections. These will help your pet develop resistance to the offending agent,
instead of just masking the itch.
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be used, but may only benefit a small
percentage of dogs with allergies. Ask your vet first.
- Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. There are
also shampoos that may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in
dogs with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products
are also available.
- An immune modulating drug may also be helpful.
- There are several flea-prevention products that can be applied monthly to
your dog’s skin.
- If the problem is severe, you may have to resort to cortisone to control
the allergy. However these drugs are strong and should be used with caution and
only under the guidance of your veterinarian.