Wednesday 15 August 2007

Inhalant Allergies in Dogs

An inhalant allergy, otherwise known as atopy, is the most common type suffered by dogs. Much like in human situations, certain elements in the atmosphere inevitably acts as allergens when inhaled. These may be molds, mildew, house dust mites, pollens from trees (oak, ash, cedar), pollens from Bermuda grass and also ragweed pollens. However, unlike humans that manifest inhaled allergies through respiratory problems, dogs display significant atopy through severe itching. There will be frenzied scratching in every parts of its body, feet included. Most acute itching can be felt on the armpits, flanks, groin and feet. Contrary to the belief of many that itching is caused by flea allergies, the most common cause is in fact inhalant allergies. The biting cum scratching can cause much hair loss, skin lesions and inflammation. The infection that arises from this behavior is called atopic dermatitis. Saliva also stains light colored hair and because of much licking, the dog’s hair color turns reddish to orange.

There is a genetical predisposition to inhalant allergies and there are certain breeds that are more commonly affected. These are the Irish Setters, Schnauzers, Scottish Terriers, Boston Terriers, Cairn Terriers, West Higland White Terriers and Wire-Haired Terriers. Atopy usually appears in the first 3 years of dog's growth. Female dogs are more vulnerable to this aversion than males.

Unfortunately, no cure has been found to resolve atopy, but several treatment options are available to control the symptoms. The best solution theoretically is to avoid the allergen. But since this may prove to be too impossible a task, a desensitization therapy and other remedy options are employed. Steroids effectively relieves skin irritation and itching, but the negative effects of this drug in the dog’s body is a disadvantage. Other safer medication that can be used are Cyclosporine A, antihistamines and fatty acids.