An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Most allergens are proteins from plants/grasses, pollens, parasites or foods.
What is Allergic Dermatitis?
Allergic dermatitis in dogs refers to inflammation of the skin caused by an allergic reaction. Dogs become allergic to certain allergens during their lifetime – more commonly between 6 months to 3 years of age. Allergens include flea bites, certain foods, environmental factors like certain grasses, plants, pollen and dust mites. Allergic dermatitis leads to itching, redness, and skin irritation, often resulting in secondary infections due to excessive scratching.
What is Atopy?
Atopy or atopic dermatitis, on the other hand, is a hereditary predisposition to allergic reactions against substances (allergens) in the environment. Dogs suffering from atopy are genetically predisposed to develop hypersensitivity reactions to these substances. Typically, a dog inherits atopy, while allergic dermatitis occurs following exposure to an external factor that triggers a reaction.
- Avoid Potential Triggers:
- Identify and avoid potential allergens such as certain grasses & plants, specific foods, dust mites, mould and pollen.
- Keep the dogs living area clean, use air purifiers, and wash your dog's bedding frequently to reduce exposure to environmental allergens.
- Use vet-recommended flea preventatives to protect your dog from flea bites. Ensure they kill adult fleas, flea eggs and flea larvae.
- Feed your dog a balanced, high-quality diet.
- Change the protein base in your dogs food once a year to avoid them becoming allergic to it. Transition the new food slowly into the diet over a week to avoid tummy upsets.
- Regular bathing and grooming can help remove allergens and reduce itching.
- Use mild, hypoallergenic shampoos designed for dogs.
- Brush your dog's coat frequently to remove loose fur, dirt, and dander.
- Regular exercise boosts your dog's immune system and overall health, which can aid in allergy management.
- Consult a Veterinarian: If your dog shows signs of allergies or itchy skin, consult a vet promptly. They can help identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatments.
- Medications: Your vet might prescribe antihistamines, corticosteroids, or other medications to alleviate itching and inflammation.
- Anti-allergy injections (immunotherapy) involve administering a small amount of allergen to desensitize the dog's immune system, reducing allergic reactions over time. This could be considered for long-term allergy management.
- Topical Treatments: Use topical treatments including medicated shampoos, sprays, or creams containing cortisone +/- local anaesthetic as recommended by your vet.
- Special Diets: Your vet may recommend hypoallergenic options or food that contains a single unique protein if your dog already has food allergies. Consult your vet before making any dietary changes as its beneficial to do an elimination diet to pin point the ingredient that’s causing the allergy.
- Flea treatments: Use veterinarian-approved flea and tick treatments/preventatives to avoid allergic reactions caused by bites. Dogs showing signs of flea allergy dermatitis are allergic to flea saliva. Ensure the treatments kill the adult flea as well as their eggs and larvae.
Omega-3 fatty acids from an animal source (fish oil, algal oil, krill oil, cod liver oil) has been shown to reduce the signs of allergic dermatitis. Other ingredients including Biotin, Vitamin C, pre-biotics and Manuka Honey can improve skin health.
ZamiPet Allergy & Itch Dog Supplement target atopic dermatitis, environmental allergies, and unhealthy skin to ensure your pet's comfort.
Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Always follow your vet's advice and be patient, as managing allergies and itchy skin often requires time and consistent effort.