Tip #1: For Allergy-Free Puppies, Don’t Breed Allergic Dogs
“Allergy” is a genetically influenced disease. Allergies result from an aberration in the genes that control T-lymphocyte function.
Mentioned in a different way, allergic dogs have T lymphocytes that respond more vigorously than the same genes in non-allergic dogs.
Over-aggressive responses cause the symptoms of common allergies.
When selecting a mate for an allergic pet, find one that has no history of allergies.
A non-allergic dog-mate can reduce the chances of allergies in puppies.
The take-home message is “don’t breed dogs with allergies.”
Tip #2: The Sooner The Better: Start Allergy Treatment Early
The sooner you start avoiding the things that cause allergic reactions in your dog, the better your final outcome will be.
Chronic or recurrent infections are due to immune system changes and functional alterations in normal skin function. Both make it more difficult to treat allergic dermatitis.
Cheaper and more simple therapies will likely work well if started early.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Tip #3: Treat All Secondary Bacterial and Yeast Infections
As a result, up to 80% of allergic patients also have secondary infections.
Why do we care about secondary infections?
Secondary infections can:
- Mimic other diseases, making accurate diagnosis difficult
- Cause severe itching
- Add to the inflammation of the allergic reaction
What are typical secondary infections and how do we treat them?
- Bacterial folliculitis (pyoderma): antibiotics for at least 21 days will be needed for each episode
- Yeast infections: topical and/or systemic antifungal medications for 2-4 weeks
- Ear infections: ear cleaning every 3-7 days, and topical medication to kill the bacteria or yeast. Topical steroids can decrease inflammation caused by the allergy and infection.
- Infections of the feet (pododermatitis): Topical antimicrobial wipes, shampoos and rinses
Tip #4: Seven Easy Ways to Avoid Common Allergens
Dust mites, molds, and cigarette smoke all irritate your dog’s skin.
Avoid these, as well as other allergens (wool, etc).
You also should do the following:
- Dispose of foam or stuffed dog beds older than one year. Dog beds are one of the most common sources of house dust mites!
- Wash all bedding every 7 days using hot water.
- Don’t smoke in your home.
- Use a HEPA air filter to clean the air.
- Use a high-efficiency dehumidifier to keep humidity below 40%. Low humidity prevents dust mites, mold growth, and fleas.
- Use Allerase spray to dissolve or denature the allergens.
- Use borate to eliminate house dust mites in the home.
Tip #5: Bathe Your Pet Every 3-7 Days
Bathing with mild, antimicrobial shampoo washes off allergens.
Bathing kills and prevents secondary bacterial and yeast infections.
Tip #6: Use Flea Control Every Month
Fleas torture your dog.
Always use the best flea medicine every month or as directed by your veterinarian.
Tip #7: Change Your Pet’s Diet
Beef and dairy may cause allergies in some dogs.
Feeding a diet without beef or dairy ingredients but with high levels of essential fatty acids will help reduce allergic reactions regardless of the cause.
If a food allergy is suspected, feed only one protein (rabbit, duck, kangaroo, or fish) and one carbohydrate (potato) for 10 weeks.
This trial will help diagnosis a food allergy.
During this time, NO other foods, treats, chew bones, or chewable medication should be administered.
Tip #8: Treat Allergies Symptomatically And Topically
Try these symptomatic and topical therapies:
- Antihistamines are cheap but effective with few side effects (clemastine, diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, hydroxyzine, amitriptyline).
- High dose essential fatty acids (if not already in the diet).
- Anti-itch conditioners after each bath (oatmeal, pramoxine, hydrocortisone, etc).
- Genesis spray (triamcinolone) to provide effective topical steroid therapy.
- Low dose (every other day) steroids for itchy flare-ups.
Tip #9: Identify the Problem with Allergy Testing
Two types of allergy testing, skin, and blood can help identify the allergens causing reactions.
The objective of allergy testing and injections is to desensitize the immune system to reactive allergens.
Allergy testing has few side effects.
Identifying and eliminating allergens helps improve about 75% of allergic patients.
Tip #10: Cyclosporine: Costly But Effective
- Cyclosporine (Atopica, Novartis) is effective for preventing T lymphocytes from stimulating an allergic reaction.
- Cyclosporine works in 75% of patients and has few adverse effects, but is relatively expensive compared to other treatments.
- Cyclosporine treatments should be given every day initially. Then, treatments can usually be reduced to every other day. Tapering reduces the cost.
In some patients, other medications (ketoconazole) may be needed.
One or a combination of these allergic management tips should alleviate the itching and scratching and give your dog needed relief.