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My dog can be allergic to what?!

Posted by Margaret Barnhart on

Allergies: Can my dog be allergic to me?

In many areas of the country spring has sprung! Flowers are beginning to bloom, days are getting longer, and pollen is out in full force! As a result, millions of Americans are beginning to feel the wrath of seasonal allergies manifesting as itchy eyes, sneezing, runny noses, or itchy throats. This shared experience of seasonal misery is common for many of us, and has become predictable with the start of each new season. We’ve learned how to treat, cope, and relieve some of our dreadful symptoms and can discuss relief with our friends, coworkers, or doctor.
Like us, pets can have allergies that are seasonal or permanent, but unlike us, they can’t tell us when their eyes itch or their throats are dry! Unless we watch our precious pooches closely, we may not notice subtle changes in their behavior that point to potential allergies.

It is common knowledge that pets produce dander and sebum that can cause allergic reactions in their owners, but how many of you have contemplated if we produce the same type of dander or oil? Could it be that our dogs can be allergic to us in the same way that we can be allergic to them?! The unfortunate truth is that yes, it’s possible and not as rare as you think. According to a study conducted by the Dermatology Clinic for Animals in Gilbert, AZ, 42% of dogs tested positive for mild to moderate human allergies!

More than just our shampoo, lotion, or detergent, our dogs can be allergic to our skin and the natural oils and dander that we produce. In dogs, this allergy usually begins to appear around 2 years of age as mild skin irritation, but with prolonged exposure to the allergen and no treatment the inevitable scratching that will ensue could cause more severe skin infections and unbearable discomfort.

Luckily, veterinarians can provide definitive proof of the cause for symptoms via a skin allergy test. This test is similar to the allergy tests humans have where the skin is pricked with potential allergens and reactions are observed. Once confirmed, veterinarians can prescribe many of the same remedies as humans, from doses of Benadryl, to allergy pills, and even a complex series of allergy serums administered as shots. With proper care, a dog with even the most severe allergies can live a healthy and comfortable life. Annual visits to the vet along with routine home care can make all the difference between a happy pup and a miserable one.

A few things we as pet owners can do to ensure the comfort of our pets and catch any potential allergies is to watch for changes in behavior, if we notice itching or sneezing we may need to adjust their routine. Begin with reviewing their food and treats, or changing what we wash their clothes, collars, or beds in. A hypoallergenic free and clear detergent will rule out any soap allergy suspicions. Choose calming and natural shampoos and coat conditioners and be sure to rinse our pets thoroughly! Any leftover dog wash or coat care products can increase dryness and cause itchy skin. When brushing your dogs be sure to check their coat and skin, run your hands over their body to feel for any irritated areas. We recommend using a wooden pin brush on pups with known skin allergies as the pins are gentler on sensitive skin.

Keeping the coat and skin clean and healthy makes it easier to recognize skin irritations and helps us notice changes in the state of our pet’s appearance. Good vet care and home maintenance ensures you stay on top of your pet’s health and that any potential allergies are addressed before they affect our pet’s quality of life. 

**Always consult your veterinarian for pet care and diet questions.**

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