Rottweilers are strong, disciplined dogs that thrive on having a job to do. But, this doesn't make them impermeable to health problems. Like any breed, they are prone to some specific health problems. Fortunately, allergies are not on that list. But, rotties can still suffer from food and environmental allergens like any other dog and the same personality that makes them great police dogs, herders, service dogs, and general busy bodies, may cause them to do more self-harm trying to get rid of the itch or pain associated with allergies.
Rottweilers descended from Roman herding and guard dogs. Breed standard was established in the early 20th century and over time, rotties have held onto the qualities of their ancestors. They are extremely loyal, strong, disciplined, and even a little silly sometimes. But, what sets them apart from other breeds is their desire for duty. Having a job to do helps keep them focused and without it, they become quite antsy and potentially destructive.
The fact is, any dog, at any time, can develop allergies. Even into adulthood, the immune system can become overstimulated, recognizing everyday substances as dangerous. These substances can be inhaled, ingested, or come in contact with skin. Symptoms can range from skin itching, redness and sloughing to digestive and respiratory troubles. Secondary yeast and bacterial infections can stem from allergens as well and require additional treatment. Rottweilers especially, may become extremely frustrated by skin issues, excessively biting and licking at itchy areas causing self-trauma or "hot spots".
If allergies are the suspected cause of your pup's discomfort, your veterinarian will need to determine whether the cause is environmental, food or medication related, or caused by something else. This may require blood work, skin scrapings, or a food-elimination diet. Should these tests not reveal the cause, a dermatologist will conduct intradermal skin testing to look for reactions to common allergens.
It is important to determine the cause of the allergic reaction prior to any treatment. If it is determined to be environmental -- such as cigarette smoke -- removal of the substance from the home is recommended. If the allergen is airborne, allergy injections will be recommended so the immune system can develop resistance. Food allergies can be treated with a change to a hypoallergenic diet. To relieve itchy, dry, red skin, soothing medicated shampoos are often recommended as well as oral fatty acid supplements. Allergy medications such as over-the-counter diphenhydramine and immune modulating medications can calm the body's response to allergens, but ask your vet first if this is right for your Rottweiler. In severe cases, your veterinarian may prescribe cortisone injections. If excessive licking or scratching of these areas has produced hot spots, additional topical medications are available through your veterinarian, according to the ASPCA.
Working with both small animals and exotics, Pamela Meadors has devoted more than 15 years to the veterinary field. She possesses a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and is the proud mom of a blind hedgehog.