Dog allergies – how to stop itching
21
August

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


Hi, my name is Dr. Katherine and this is
my trusty sidekick Delilah! And today we’re going to be talking to you about
dog allergies and itchy dog skin: how to identify whether your dog has
allergies, how to get rid of that itching as fast as possible – because nobody likes
an itchy dog, especially not the dog themselves! And we’re also going to talk
about long-term strategies to prevent a recurrence of the allergies and help to
really nourish and support the dog’s skin. So first up: what is an allergy?
Well allergies are the number one reason why dogs are itchy – but they’re not the
only reason, so I will say – like they say in all my videos – if you are experiencing
issues with your dog, if your dog’s itchy or showing any other signs that you are
concerned about, please go chat to your veterinarian to discuss your puppy’s
particular needs. (Delilah’s needs right now are to be in
cockroach pose and just relaxing while mom does all of the work!) Right, back to it! Allergies are when your dog’s immune system overreacts to something – and that
something is what we call an “allergen.” Those substances can really be anything –
sometimes there can be different pollens in the air, so from grasses or trees. It
can be from the saliva in fleas, they can be from proteins or carbohydrates in
your dog’s diet, or they can be things that your dog is coming into contact
with – so sometimes it’s the laundry detergent that you’re using or a
conditioner that used use in the carpet. Really anything! And how can you
tell whether your dog has an allergen? Well your dog is itchy! It’s a really
common sign of an allergy – itchy skin, itchy, itchy. But that’s not the only symptom of allergies. Actually allergies can also
manifest as gastrointestinal issues – so your dog may vomit or have diarrhea in response to allergy, or they can get symptoms a
little bit like hay fever in humans where their eyes get itchy and watery or
they might sneeze or cough. I’m going to talk about the main causes of allergies. There are four types: allergy to fleas allergy, to something they inhale,
or “atopy,” allergy to something that they’re eating – so a food allergy – and
then the fourth one: allergy to something that they’re in contact with – what we
call a contact allergy. So starting number one with flea allergies. Flea allergy dermatitis is what we officially call it. Unfortunately that’s something
that this little puppa does suffer from. Flea allergy dermatitis tends to
manifest as a lot of itchiness in a particular part of the body and that is
the hind region. So every dog is going to be itchy when they’re bitten by a flea,
but a normal dog, if they get bitten, would just be itchy at that little spot
that they’ve been bitten. A dog like Delilah that has a full-blown allergy to the flea bite or to the saliva that the flea is in injecting into their system
when they’re biting your dog – those dogs just get crazy itchy! Itchy, itchy, itchy all the time, particularly in the summer months, you may have noticed. And as we can see here at Delilah’s tail base or
around their rump region, they’ll itch and they’ll scratch and they’ll
chew away at the fur. We can see with Delilah she’s actually lost a little bit
of fur here. Some dogs can actually develop really red and raw patches that
can develop secondary infections as well. So that’s it for flea allergy dermatitis. If
you’re seeing fleas on your dog or if you’re suspecting that your dog does
have flea allergy dermatitis, go chat to your vet about how to prevent the fleas
and how to treat the itchiness. You might also want to go through my other video on how to get rid of dog fleas and I’m including the link for you here! Next up is atopy or inhalant allergies. That’s an
allergy to something that the dog is inhaling. Dogs manifest symptoms in
their skin typically when they have atopy. Delilah unfortunately also has that
condition, and often we see itchiness and licking — (Oh you don’t like?) – they itch and
lick between their toes. They can also get a lot of itchiness around their
eyes – you might actually have found a little spectacle look on your dog because they’ve been itching around their eyes so much they’ve worn
away the hair! And they might have a bit of redness of the skin there as well, or
inflammation and they can also get skin issues under their arms, around their
chest area. Your vet might be able to help you diagnose what they’re allergic
to by doing a skin test or even a blood test. It’s not always possible to
prevent exposure to those allergies – a lot of the time there can be things very
common in the environment – mold in the house, house dust mites, sometimes pollens that we’re seeing in the springtime from trees or weeds or grasses. The third type of allergy is food allergies. When a dog is allergic to something in their food it tends to be either a carbohydrate or a protein. So maybe it’s eggs in the diet,
or chicken or lamb or beef in the kibble that they’re eating. Dogs that have a
food allergy can display a range of different symptoms. They can either
develop itchiness in the skin or they might develop respiratory issues – so
maybe they’re sneezing or have runny nose or runny eyes – or they may have
gastrointestinal issues – they might have vomiting or diarrhea. The way we
diagnose food allergies is by doing what we call an elimination diet. We pretty
much stop feeding what we normally feed – including treats! And we start them on a completely new
diet – a diet that they’ve never had before. A new protein type – maybe it’s
dark or deer or something, or maybe even a vegan kind of protein. After we’ve fed
them this new diet for a while we gradually start to reintroduce those old
proteins and different types of carbohydrates again and if the dog
suddenly starts presenting symptoms, then we can say “haha”! It was probably that carbohydrate you reintroduced or that grain that I reintroduced. Our fourth type of allergy is contact allergy – literally a substance that your dog
comes into direct contact with. When we see dogs with contact allergies we see
them react at that point of contact. If they’re allergic to grass we’re going to
see the skin irritation, redness of the skin, itchiness of the skin at
the point where they’ve had contact. Let’s talk about how to treat them: how
to stop that itching. We’re going to look at short term and long term solutions. So
starting with the short term: what we need to do to stop that
itching is number one – wash away, get rid of as much of that allergen from the
environment as you possibly can. Either from that elimination diet that I spoke
about, and/or washing away the allergen from your dog, or removing the offending
substance if you think it’s a contact allergy. I have a bunch of different
products that I like to use. Number one is a shampoo. This is a Burt’s
Bees oatmeal shampoo. I’m not getting paid by this brand, this is just a brand
I like because it is free of any of those nasty ingredients. It doesn’t have
any fragrances or colors, and it’s also not tested on animals which is very
important in our household. This one I like also because of the oatmeal in
it and that’s something I do recommend for you guys: choosing a shampoo that has either oatmeal or oatmeal colloid – “colloidal oatmeal.” Oatmeal is a really nice calming substance for their skin. When it’s really irritated and inflamed we want to be adding substances that are nice and nurturing and help
to kind of remove all of that itchy feeling. I recommend bathing at least every week, if not two to three times a wee, because
we really want to be removing as much of that allergen as possible. Don’t bathe
too often though because we don’t want to be stripping away the oils of the
skin too much. Another product I like to reach for after I’ve been on a walk for
example is paw wipes. This one is by a brand called Paw – sorry
“Bark” logic, and it’s literally just a wipe that contains pretty much water
and essential oils, so nice and simple ingredients, nothing that’s going to
irritate them. And that again is a really nice way of removing any allergens
directly from their feet. Delilah hates it when I do that but it has to be done! These just come in wipe form and you just pull one out and wipe between their
toes. (Yes, she’s running away from me now! It’s okay I’m not going to do that!). We
also want to look at stopping that itching as quickly as we can. I like
to do that in topical form, and also through an oral medication. First starting
with the topical form, and this one is Duoxo. It has a chlorhexidine base and it
is a mousse form. Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic we use a lot in vet practice
to remove bacteria. The mousse form also has a nice calming agent, and you can
spray it on their skin. You can see it’s a moose so it kind of slowly
melts away when you spray that on. (Delilah is running away from this, she knows
that smell!). I also mentioned oral medication. That’s
only something I would recommend giving your dog if your vet recommends it, and
in fact one of these types of medications I’m going to talk about is
prescription only, so you definitely need to chat to your vet about that. There
are two forms: an antihistamine, and a corticosteroid. Both of those drugs
generally work fantastically at stopping that itching pretty much immediately. I
love to use them sometimes when Delilah is particularly itchy. The
antihistamine doesn’t require a prescription -it’s an over-the-counter
product – but I want you to chat to your vet before you use it because they can
have bad side effects for some animals Corticosteroids can be very dangerous
for some animals if they have particular diseases or sometimes if they’re older
animals, and please check with your vet to see whether it’s the best thing for your dog
in your particular circumstance. So now we’ve covered how to stop that itching immediately: we’re washing the dog, we’re applying some nice cooling and calming
agents, we’re potentially doing an elimination diet to get rid of the
offending allergen, and we’re also potentially giving some oral medication
just to help stop that itching fast. Now we want to talk about long-term
solutions as well. So the first thing is essential fatty acid supplementation. Essential fatty acids are a really nice way of in helping to reduce any
inflammation that’s happening. It can be particularly effective when you combine
it with antihistamines that I previously mentioned. The second long-term therapy
that can be very effective for some dogs is medications: prescription only
medication. Firstly corticosteroids. Some vets like to recommend them as a
long-term therapy to stop dogs from itching. Two new drugs – the first one Apoquel, and the second ones Cytopoint. Both of those drugs are pretty expensive but
super effective and they actually target the immune system itself; they stop
the immune system from reacting to that allergen. (Oh what was that snort Delilah? Delilah’s just moving around the bed, getting more
comfortable). Another long-term solution that you can chat to your vet about is
what we call hyposensitization or desensitization therapy, and that’s
literally desensitizing the immune system so that it stops reacting to that
particular substance. Desensitization therapy can be a really good option for
atopy because it can be really hard to control exposure to some of those
environmental allergens – like preventing your dog from being in contact with
different pollens in the air for example. So there we have it! We’ve managed to put
Delilah into a deep slumber, AND become experts on dog allergies, and how to stop
dogs from itching! If you have any questions, please pop them down in the
comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our Channel so you can
learn new dog care tips every week! (Hi my name is Delilah and this is my
trusty…. Oh my god that is not my name!)


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