If you own a dog with allergies, it can be quite frustrating for you and very uncomfortable for your dog. As they scratch, bite, lick and destroy their coats and skin completely. Hot spots begin to appear, their coats begin to fall out and they chew their bodies to the point of scabs, sores and a down right total mess! It is usually not a pretty site but in most cases can be managed without medication and long term steroid shots that can have a negative impact on your dog.
I have the pleasure of owning a Labrador Retriever with terrible allergies. Thank goodness my other lab is allergy free! There seems to be more dogs today then ever, that develop allergies. The first step I would recommend for any owner that has a dog in this condition is a quick trip to the vet for a steroid shot and antibiotics to temporarily stop the itching and heal any raw spots that have developed. This will buy you some time temporarily, to regroup and begin to look for a solution. All the while, making your dog a lot more comfortable while you are doing so. Please know, I am definitely not an advocate of steroid shots for dogs, by any means. But in this case, my main concern would be getting your dog to immediately stop chewing himself/herself raw and stopping any infection from progressing.
Fleas are a huge allergen for dogs. If you haven’t already, go to the nearest pet shop and buy a flea comb. They are cheap, usually around a dollar, and comb through your dog checking for to see if any fleas or flea feces are in the comb. You will know if you find flea feces as it is little dark specks that bleed red when you get it wet on a paper towel. There is more information on how to eradicate fleas in your home and on your dog here.
The second largest allergy factor in my opinion is a food allergy. This allergy can be corrected in most cases without longtime medication or a life of vet visit after vet visit, for you and your dog. My oldest lab Slate, has terrible food allergies and after a long hard journey, I have been able to manage it without the use of any medication. There is no test that can accurately test a dog for food allergies. The only way to know for sure if your dog has food allergies, is by doing an elimination diet. If you would like more information on food allergies, please look here.
The third largest allergy factor is an environmental allergy. This one is the hardest to manage in my opinion, unless you can find exactly what item or items in your dogs environment is causing the reaction and remove it. An example would be…. anything new brought into your home that could possibly have triggered your dog to have an allergic reaction.
The good news is, there are accurate tests your vet can administer to pinpoint what environmental factors are causing your dog to react. The bad news is if it is pollen, etc. you may be looking at long term allergy shots from the vet if nothing else works. There is also a very good possibility that certain supplements, etc. can greatly improve and manage your dog’s reaction to the point of not needing expensive vet visits. I will be adding a few articles in the future for information on what supplements are available and how they may help you manage your dogs environmental allergies.
I hope this information helps make your life and your dog’s life a lot better so you both can get back to the important things in life like playing fetch!