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Dogs, like people, can develop allergies to many things, including food, fleas and environmental chemicals. The symptoms vary, depending on the allergy, but can include itchy skin, sneezing, itchy feet, runny eyes and diarrhea.
There are three ways of managing allergies in dogs. Firstly, you can keep your dog away from whatever is making them react. This is not always easy. While you can regulate their diet to stop them eating a food they’re allergic to, and keep fleas off them, it’s not easy to avoid exposure to a flowering plant, for example.
The second way of treating allergic symptoms is to give your dog medication that stops their body reacting to the allergen. Anti-histamines are a good first choice for this. They don’t have any adverse side effects, however they don’t work in all dogs.
If they don’t help, then your veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroid tablets such as prednisolone. These will make your dog comfortable very quickly, but they do have side effects. They can affect your dog’s liver and kidneys, they may lead to Cushing’s Disease and they can increase the risk of infection. Having said that, used carefully, they can really make a difference to a dog’s quality of life.
Natural therapies such as fish oil can also act as a natural anti-inflammatory in dogs. In some cases, they may be all your dog needs to soothe his inflamed itchy skin.
The third method of treating allergies is by giving your dog desensitizing injections. These are prepared by a veterinary dermatologist, and consist of a very small amount of the substance your dog is allergic to. The injections are given on a regular basis, to help their system become used to the allergen, so they won’t react to it any more. These are expensive, and can take several years to work fully, but they do work and they are safe.
In Summary – Allergies are very frustrating, and often need treatment throughout your dog’s life to keep them comfortable. It’s worth the effort and expense, because they will be much happier and more comfortable without having to deal with the annoying and irritating symptoms of an allergic reaction.
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