You’ll probably know all about it if your dog suffers from allergies – and many do – sneezing, coughing, scratching, skin irritation or even hair loss, infections and, of course, those troublesome tummies; possibly causing diarrhoea or constipation, vomiting and irritable bowel syndrome.
This is actually as a result of the immune system ‘attacking itself’ in order to rid the body of what it sees as a danger, creating an inflammatory response and leading to those unwanted symptoms.
There are various canine allergies that may affect your dog and amongst the most common are reactions to fleas, food or ‘seasonal’ allergies to mould or pollen.
Some Scientists think this may be due to faulty genetic coding meaning the white blood cells don’t distinguish between threatening and non-threatening proteins – such as in food allergies.
Flea Bite sensitivity causes extreme itching, often around your dog’s ‘rear end’ and causing constant chewing or biting and he may even start whirling around trying to ease the irritation. If untreated it can lead to inflamed skin, hair loss and possible bacterial infections. So it’s important to keep your dog’s flea protection up to date as some dogs are hypersensitive to fleas and just one bite will trigger a reaction.
Whilst with ‘seasonal’ allergies such as pollen and mould, the immune cells start to release protein antibodies, transporting allergen molecules to white blood cells which release large amounts of histamines causing that itching, scratching and sneezing.
Some pollen allergens such as weeds, trees and grass can cause Canine Atopic Dermatitis.
Unlike us humans who generally suffer runny noses, congestions and sneezing – dogs can suffer atopic skin symptoms with severe itching affecting the belly, armpits, face and feet causing intense licking and biting which can then results in foot pads becoming inflamed and infected, even making it uncomfortable for the dog to walk.
Some breeds are known to be more prone to this – including Shar Pei, Bichon Frise, English Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels as well as Cairn, White and Highland Terriers. Sinus congestion also leads to a lack of energy and loss of interest in eating and drinking.
Proteins in non-meat food are thought to be primarily responsible for food allergies and symptoms are likely to include non-seasonal skin irritation as well as vomiting, diarrhoea and flatulence as well as a range of skin problems and ear infections.
A healthy GI tract is important for your dog as this is where his food nutrients are absorbed and undetected GI disorders can reduce the ability of the immune system to work properly leading to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and susceptibility to infection.
Medication from your Vet to treat skin allergies will often include antihistamine or hydrocortisone to help ease the symptoms but these may not deal with a poorly functioning immune system and gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and can also sometimes lead to unwanted side effects.
What's the Answer?
So, many dog owners are now turning to a healthier, more natural method of treatment– beneficial bacteria – which helps to treat the root cause of that itchy skin. Around 70% of a dog’s immune system is centralised in his gastrointestinal system and supporting this with beneficial bacteria can help prevent the proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria and restoring balance.