Your dog’s environmental allergies 🐶
Here’s a quick guide to environmental allergies for dogs!
There’s nothing more frustrating than an itch you can’t scratch, so it must be very irritating for our dogs when they have allergies.
We often blame food for allergic reactions, but have you considered the likelihood of environmental factors being the cause of your dog’s itch?
In fact, according to leading Veterinary Dermatologists, environmental allergens cause a whopping 90% of all allergies, with only true food allergies accounting for the other 10%, and food sensitivities landing somewhere in the middle.
So, let’s take a closer look at environmental allergies, starting with a quick insight into what an allergen actually is.
What is an allergen?
An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction in the immune system. It can be something within a dog’s diet, or it can be within the environment.
Here’s what happens when a dog comes into contact with an allergen:
- A dog’s body has stem cells that live in their bone marrow and produce specialised white blood cells, called B cells.
- B cells create antibodies that identify viruses, parasites or allergens that enter the body. One particular antibody is Immunoglobin IgE.
- When an allergen enters the body, the antibodies alert the immune system and attach themselves to mast cells to regulate the immune response.
- Mast cells contain chemicals, including histamines, that fight allergens.
- The histamines cause redness, inflammation, itching or sneezing for a dog. Humans have the same immune response, too.
Four different types of allergens to be aware of:
Contact allergens: These are substances that come into direct contact with a dog. For example, soaps, cleaners, pesticides etc.
Inhaled allergens: As the term suggests, these are microscopic or environmental allergens. For example, dust, mould, pollen or smoke etc.
Food allergens: These allergens are present in some foods.
Ingested or injected allergens: These allergens are introduced to a dog’s system deliberately or otherwise. For example, medication, insect stings or bites etc.
What can cause environmental allergies?
Environmental allergies are triggered by something in the dog’s surroundings, usually inhaled or contact allergens, like grass and pollen. This type of allergy is usually seasonal and particularly prevalent in spring and autumn when pollen counts are at their highest, as any hay fever sufferer will tell you.
However, some triggers are not seasonal, like storage mites. These little critters are attracted to dry food or grains and can rear their tiny ugly heads throughout the year.
For the third year in a row, it’s been announced that La Niña will occur, raising concerns for about pastureland growth and more grass pollen in the air – causing higher amounts of triggers due to environmental allergies!
Symptoms of environmental allergies include:
- Persistent itching or scratching
- Ear infections (especially reoccurring)
- Constant chewing or licking of paws
- Watering eyes
- Hives, rashes or sores on the skin
- Hair loss
How to keep your dog’s seasonal allergies at bay
Lyka Pet Food’s in-house Integrative Vet, Dr Matthew Muir, shared his holistic insight on allergies with us.
In his practice, he found that when attention was paid to gut health, stress management and general inflammation within the body, dogs appeared to cope better with allergies. This means that if two dogs have the same exposure to an environmental allergen, they may express their allergic response differently. This is known as allergen reactivity and is a focus of naturopathic medicine.
In addition to focusing on health and wellness, there are other things you can do to help you minimise your dog’s allergic reactions:
- Limit their exposure to allergens in the first place. This might mean being wary of where you exercise at certain times of the year.
- After playing outside or after a walk, wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove any particle allergens from their coat and skin.
- Be conscious of seasonal allergies. Although they only occur once or twice a year, they may have a significant impact on your dog’s well-being.
- Discuss proper treatment and active prevention measures with your vet. These might include:
- Assessing your dog’s lifestyle to avoid stressors that may make them more reactive to allergens.
- Reviewing your dog’s nutrition. In particular, consider antihistaminic/anti-allergy foods high in omega-3, including bioactive ingredients like shiitake mushrooms.
- Explore herbal medicine options with your vet or seek guidance from a holistic veterinarian.
Every dog is different – it’s one of the reasons why we love them so much! It also means that the right solution for your dog might involve trying a few different options. But with a little effort, you can find the right combination to help your dog live their happiest, healthiest life – without the constant scratching!
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Lyka pet food’s recipes are formulated with key immunity-building ingredients like shiitake, carrots, ginger, turmeric, blueberries and kale. These immunity-boosting ingredients will help to ensure your dog’s body is getting the love and attention it deserves, especially during the challenging winter months.