Dogs can have the same allergies that humans have, and no breed is immune. Unlike humans, who often experience symptoms like sneezing and watery eyes, dogs have multiple symptoms, which often worsen with age. Itchy ears and skin is the most common symptom seen in dogs with allergies, but they can also suffer from watery eyes, chronic rashes, ear infections, sneezing, runny noses, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and wheezing. The medical term for allergies is allergic rhinitis.
The most common cause of allergic rhinitis is airborne allergies. When dogs breathe, they inhale tree, grass and weed pollens and other particles they might be allergic to. Pollen allergies are often seasonal, appearing during specific times of the year, such as when ragweed is blooming or grass is growing. Other common allergens for dogs include molds, mildew and house dust mites, which are year-round problems.
Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose, and it can be caused by things other than allergies. Bacterial rhinitis, fungal rhinitis, hyperplastic rhinitis and idiopathic granulomatous rhinitis can all cause nasal discharge and other symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis. Because allergic rhinitis can be easily confused with other forms of rhinitis, it can be difficult to diagnose. A veterinarian may need to conduct multiple tests, including a physical examination, X-rays, endoscopic examination and nasal biopsy to determine the exact cause of nasal discharge, sneezing or other symptoms.
The best way to alleviate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis is to eliminate the causes. Veterinarians recommend cleaning, air purifiers and air filters to remove dust and other irritating particles from the air inside a home. Keeping a dog inside while the grass is being mowed or pollen counts are high can help as well. A final option is to help your dog avoid areas, such as a basement, that trigger the worst allergic reactions.
Your veterinarian will be able to establish the best course of treatment for your pet. Special medications may be used depending on the extent of the problem and your pet's individual health. Allergy shots may also be suggested. According to Halo Pets, as many as 75 percent of dogs who get allergy shots suffer fewer allergy symptoms. Dogs sometimes need regular allergy shots for several months or up to one year before the full effect is experienced.
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