How do I Reduce Dog Allergies?

Allergies can affect dogs of all breeds and at any age.
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One in five people suffer from allergies, according to Web MD, and half of them are allergic to animals. Dogs can have allergies, too. They aren't typically allergic to people, but they can be allergic to food, fleas and airborne particles, such as dust, mold and pollen. Allergic rhinitis in both humans and dogs is commonly caused by airborne allergens. Whether you are a person or a pooch, the methods for reducing allergies are often the same.

Recognize the Symptoms

People who have dog allergies usually experience sneezing and watery eyes, but dogs are a little different. They often exhibit multiple symptoms, with itchy ears and skin topping the list. Dogs with allergies often scratch their ears and lick and bite their feet. They also might experience chronic rashes, ear infections, runny noses, vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty breathing. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, you should contact a veterinarian to determine whether or not allergies are the cause.

Identify the Allergen

There are many different things that a person or a dog could be allergic to. Some allergies are seasonal, such as an allergy to grass pollen or ragweed, while other allergens, such as dust and mold, could irritate a dog all year long. Allergies to beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, soy, corn and wheat are relatively common and could develop at any age. Many dogs are allergic to fleas and have a severe reaction to a single flea bite. It is sometimes difficult to identify the allergen because most allergies cause the same symptoms. You must consult a veterinarian or allergist to determine the exact cause.

Control the Environment

Allergies are best managed by minimizing exposure to allergens. Dogs who are allergic to grass and weed pollen should be kept inside during mowing and high pollen counts. An air filter or air purifier can minimize dust, mold, mites, dander and other allergens inside a home. If the allergy is food related, the allergen must be eliminated from your dog's diet. Flea medicine and home treatment options control fleas, thus reducing the chance of flea bites and allergic reactions.

Treat the Patient

People often take medication or allergy shots to treat allergy symptoms and build up an immunity to the allergen. Some veterinarians also recommend allergy shots or other medications for dogs after the allergen has been identified. Regular allergy shots reduce symptoms in up to 75 percent of dogs. However, it may take up to one year for the shots to be fully effective.