Can dogs suffer from allergies?
(A) Homeopathic vet Holly Mash says: Yes, dogs can suffer from allergies. The most common allergens are grass or tree pollens and the symptoms in dogs are usually linked to itchy skin and ear complaints — unlike allergies in humans, when the sneezes and watery eyes of hay fever are the most common signs of a summer allergy.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oils and flax seed oil or evening primrose oil, can help to address problems by ensuring the skin and coat are in tip top health.
In addition there are homeopathic remedies called nosodes that are derived from the potential allergens (such as the grass pollens) and these are sometimes used in a desensitisation programme for susceptible dogs. These would be best used under the guidance of a homeopath — contact Ainsworths homeopathic pharmacy at www.ainsworths.com
(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: Allergies are very common in dogs, but they rarely cause respiratory problems (as they usually do in humans). Instead, allergies in dogs more often cause symptoms of itchiness of the skin or intestinal problems such as diarrhoea. The most effective treatment of allergies in dogs is to avoid the thing they are allergic to. This can be achieved by stringent flea control for flea allergic dogs, carefully chosen hypo-allergenic diets for dogs with specific food allergies, or avoiding plants to which the dog is allergic.
Identification of allergies can be achieved by trial (such as a month on hypo-allergenic food, or avoiding certain walks where particular plants are prevalent), or by testing. Patch testing and blood testing can both allow identification of allergies, such as those involving weed or tree pollens, or indoor allergens such as dust mites, and moulds.
Treatment can also involve antihistamine and anti-inflammatory medication to try to make dogs comfortable, and sometimes affected dogs need antibiotics to control skin infections that develop as a consequence of allergic skin disease.