Thursday 19 November 2009

Dog Allergies: Hidden Health Risks in Your Home

When it comes to your pet, nothing is too good. You buy premium dog food, a comfy pad for those long lazy afternoons, and there’s never a shortage of chew toys around. It’s no different for the health-related needs of our canine companions; we’re all used to regular trips to the vet, and dread those unexpected emergency visits.

Flea collars, rabies shots, parasite remedies…yes, it is a rare dog lover who does not bend over backward to ensure a long and comfortable life for our pets. We bring them to grooming salons, enjoy long walks in the park, and generally lose track of who is really the owner in the relationship.

Yet, despite all of this devotion, a startling segment of the community is completely unaware of a serious threat to the health of domestic animals and unknowingly allow our poor silent friends to suffer. Dog allergies are quite common, though difficult to detect…and Rusty may be smart, but he probably hasn’t learned to describe his symptoms to the vet.

Not yet, anyway. I know some of you will keep trying to teach him.

The key area of concern are allergies in dogs which produce an immune response to everyday substances. Oftentimes, a pet who appears ill, or seems to be afflicted with a digestive parasite, could actually be allergic to dinner. Commercial dog foods often contain dozens of different meats and grains, any of which might be responsible for digestive symptoms such as regurgitation and loose bowels, as well as breathing issues, itchiness, and jerky motions with the face and paws, indicating irritation.

Dog allergies are also caused by the same pollens and molds that make hayfever season a struggle for many humans as well. The highly sensitive canine snout is also vulnerable to dust and associated mites, so a clean carpet and bedding is essential to reducing the harm caused by the local environment to some dogs.

Seeing obsessive scratching in a dog tends not to set off any warning bells; most folks reason that dogs enjoy all sorts of odd repetitive motion and are perhaps itchier than humans, since they generally don’t wear a lot of clothes and spend most of their time on the floor. Nevertheless, a great deal of the time, the itching is not natural at all, but the result of a dog allergy.

If you suspect that your pet is afflicted, request an examination from your veterinarian, being careful to describe the symptoms which aroused your concern. If no other obvious cause is found, such as fleas, worms, or infectious disease, a series of tests can narrow down the source of your dog’s allergy.

Once the offending item has been identified, the next task will be to remove that substance from your pet’s living space. If an ingredient in food turns out to be the problem, changing to a purer brand might be an easy solution. On the other hand, if it turns out that your dog is allergic to humans, there may be no better solution than moving out to the doghouse and leaving your house to your pet.

After all, you’d do anything for your dog, wouldn’t you?