Environmental allergies are more common in dogs than in cats and typically occur between ages 1 and 3. The reactions occur when a dog’s immune system is especially sensitive to a substance, even a common one. Dogs with environmental allergies are usually genetically predisposed to these chronic conditions. Additionally, certain breeds are more prone to environmental dog allergies than others: Retrievers, Terriers, Boxers, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Shepherds, Beagles and Irish Setters.
The most common environmental allergens that affect dogs are:
Some of these irritants are seasonal and are more aggressive during certain times of the year. Many of us humans are familiar with the aggravating effects of seasonal allergies. They’re no fun for us or our dogs. Because dogs spend a fair amount of time outdoors, it’s nearly impossible to avoid contact with some of the offenders.
As a dog’s body tries to reject the offending allergens, bothersome symptoms occur. The most common symptoms are skin-related ones and are a result of Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy), which is skin inflammation and extreme itchiness due to allergens. As a dog becomes uncomfortable from the symptoms, he may try to relieve them by excessive chewing, biting and licking. These self-soothing methods could create hair loss or open wounds that may become infected if left untreated.
The areas on a dog’s body that are typically affected by Atopy are:
If your dog is exhibiting Atopic Dermatitis symptoms, it’s important to consult your veterinarian. During an exam, the health professionals will review your dog’s complete medical history and discuss symptoms with you. If environmental allergies are suspected, the vet may recommend a course of action:
Because Atopy is a chronic condition, you’ll need to manage it for the rest of your dog’s life. There are, however, some ways you can help him stay comfortable:
Environmental allergies in dogs are irritating and could result in pain and even infection. If you suspect your dog might be affected by environmental allergies, call your vet’s office for guidance.
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