Dog Allergies in Texas. Atopic dermatitis. Allergic skin disease. Atopy. They all mean the same thing. Your pet is allergic to something, and it’s usually something outside. While our allergies involve itchy eyes and watery noses, our pet’s allergies typically result in itchy skin which can get pretty uncomfortable considering the skin is the largest organ in the body. The most common places our pets are going to scratch will be their ears, abdomen, and feet – potentially because all three are easily accessible with the mouth to chew or the feet to scratch.
Diagnosing and managing allergies can be extremely frustrating in some cases. Just as we are more or less allergic to some pollens, grasses, or even foods, our pets follow a similar suit. The majority of our dog’s and cat’s allergies can be blamed on the environment. Only a select few are the result of a food intolerance – more on that later. Dog allergies in Texas can range from mild to extremely severe; therefore, the treatments and management options will vary accordingly.
There are several secondary skin conditions that can arise from allergies – most commonly are bacterial and yeast infections from continued scratching and chewing. When a dog chews at their skin, they can cause enough trauma to allow the normal bacterial flora to grow and thrive resulting in rashes, sores, blisters, ear infections, and raw skin. Furthermore, the secondary infections tend to be itchier than the original allergy, which results in more itching and scratching, and the cycle continues. The goal of therapy is to not only treat the infection, but control the underlying itch. Depending on the severity of the disease, the latter can sometimes prove quite challenging for you, your pet, and your veterinarian.
So, what about their food? In very rare cases will our pets have an intolerance to an ingredient in their diet. If there is a food sensitivity involved, it is typically to the protein source, namely the chicken or beef product, NOT the grain or carbohydrate source. Human nutrition focuses strongly on gluten or grain intolerances because they are a legitimate allergen for us. We do not have the same focus in our dogs and cats, although some pet diets are marketed to address the human concern.
Depending on the time of year and severity of the pet’s allergies, there is a wide range of signs an owner may see at home, from minor scratching to rashes or severe hair loss and skin irritation. It is important to note that the majority of our treatments do not always treat the skin’s reaction to the allergens, but the resulting itch because of the reaction.
Keep in mind that allergies tend to be seasonal and are usually (but not always) worse in the spring and summer months and tend to settle in the fall and winter – but no promises can be made for this general statement in Texas!