Canine allergies are responsible for much of the chewing and itching of dogs everywhere. Just like people, dogs may be allergic to food ingredients, to pollens of grass, weeds and trees or to mold and dust mites in their environment.
Although there are many shampoos and sprays advertised to stop skin itching of dogs, these commercial products have limited effectiveness. They may provide some short term relief but if the source of the allergen is still present, the itch will quickly return.
Where your dog scratches and chews may help your veterinarian determine the source of the canine's allergic reaction. Atopic dermatitis is an environmental allergy that is quite similar to human allergies. Dust mites, grass and tree pollen and other airborne particles are the cause of atopic dermatitis that affects almost 10% of dogs.
Symptoms of atopic dermatitis are paw licking and chewing, paws that appear reddened and tender, fur loss and an itch so persistent it interferes with the dog's sleep. An effective medication is Atopica which can safely be used long term. Atopica does not contain steroids or cause drowsiness in the dog.
If your dog seems to be scratching his back and chewing the inside of his back legs he may be suffering from flea allergy dermatitis. The allergy is not to the flea itself but to the saliva release by fleas when they bite your dog. For dogs with flea allergy dermatitis it is not enough to kill the adult fleas on the dog but you must prevent new fleas from hatching and biting.
Triamcinolone is often prescribed by vets to treat inflammation and allergic disorders.
This is a corticosteroid and must be administered exactly as prescribed. When giving corticosteroids it is crucial not to stop the medication without a gradual reduction in the dosage. Triamcinolone is the generic name of the medication and may be prescribed as one of several brands such as Cortalone, Vetalog or TriAcet.
If your dog has food allergies the result will most often be itching in the anal area. It is estimated that one-third of dogs with symptoms of food allergies are less than one year old. However, food allergy dermatitis can appear at any age and may become a problem even in a dog that has eaten the same brand of dog food for months or years.
When canines suffer from a food allergy itching in the anal region may be accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, skin rash and flatulence. Your veterinarian can test your dog to eliminate environmental causes of the allergy and determine if secondary allergic reactions are also a problem.
Dexamethasone is a synthetic corticosteroid that can have benefit effects but also may cause negative side effects. Dexamethasone is common used in veterinary medicine and is given by injection, inhalation or topically. When used as a topical treatment the solution may also include a miticide, antifungal or antibacterial to treat skin problems.
Corticosteroids can be life saving medications for your dog and used prudently will ease the symptoms of allergic reactions. Veterinarians often prescribe this treatment as a pill every other day. Corticosteroids depress the immune system and are not recommended for long term use. For canine allergies to tree and grass pollens, medications such as dexamethasone used short term provide fast, lasting relief.
For dogs that require longer term treatment for airborne allergies, Temaril-P may be prescribed by your vet. This anti-inflammatory drug contains a low dose of prednisone and can be taken over longer terms with less risk of side effects than found with full dose corticosteroid drugs. Temeril-P reduces the dog's need to scratch which prevents sore or bare areas from developing. It is also often used to treat kennel cough or asthma like symptoms caused by canine allergies.
You may not be able to eliminate the allergens from your dog's environment but there is a wide range of medications designed to ease or eliminate the symptoms of canine allergies.