Skin Allergies are very common among dogs and they are very hard to treat. Some breeds have a genetic tendency to develop allergies, unfortunately the Bulldog is one of those breeds.
So, how do you know if your Dog is allergic and what is the best treatment?
The best way to treat a skin allergy, is to first find out what kind of allergy it is, before starting any treatment. Ask your veterinarian for an allergy test. This diagnostic test is an intradermal skin test, similar to the one performed on humans. There are several kinds of allergy test, none of the allergy test (blood or skin testing) is a 100% accurate but in most cases it will help target and treat the allergies better. In general the skin test is proven to be more accurate than the blood tests but it is also more expensive.
A lot of dogs don’t get tested for allergies but do get treatment from the vet with antibiotics, steroids or medicated skin washes. This will only treat the symptoms and not the cause! The best thing to do is get a full allergy test from the vet, this can be quite expensive but it’s worth it, it will eventually save you money and more important it will save your dog from any misdiagnosis or mistreatment.
Types of Allergies
Environmental and Seasonal Allergies
The most common of all the types of allergies. This can be anything in the environment in- and outside the house, from grasses, pollens, molds and dust mites to cottons, wool, cleaning materials and so on. But it can also be an allergy to flea or tick medication or an allergy to the flea itself called flea bit dermatitis. Environmental allergies can be caused by inhaling a substance or through skin absorption. If we know what type of environmental allergy it is, we can either remove the object or irritant that causes the allergy, or if that’s not possible, treat the specific allergy and it’s symptoms.
In the case of some airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from allergy injections. These will help your dog develop resistance.
If your dog suddenly has an allergic reaction, be sure to check your dog’s environment:
- Did you use a new type of laundry detergent, softener or cleaning materials?
- Do you have a new rug or made any other changes in the home?
- Did you wash your dog recently or gave him flea or tick treatment?
The most common Food allergies in Dogs are: grains, soy, corn, potatoes, wheat or a specific kind of meat or fish. Dogs with a food allergy will commonly have itchy skin, gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or vomiting or even breathing difficulties. In most cases a well balanced high quality diet will cure all of the symptoms. However this might mean you will have to change your dog’s diet to fresh meat, home cooked meals or an all natural hypo-allergenic food which can be quite expensive.
Most common Allergy Symptoms
- Itching and biting
- Hives and Skin Bumps
- Chronic Ear Infections
- Stinking coat, paws or ears
- Swollen or Running Eyes
- Butt twirling
- Interdigital Cysts (itchy red spots between the toes)
- Hot Spots (wet and red spots on the skin)
- Constant licking or Sneezing
- Hair loss or crusts on the skin
- Bacterial or yeast skin infections
The kind of antibiotic medication used to treat your dog will be prescribed by your veterinarian after diagnosing and determining which type of organism is to blame
Such as Benadryl, Zyrtec or Claritincan can be used, but may only benefit a small percentage of dogs with allergies. Always contact your vet first.
A short term boost which gives the dog temporary relief. Long term usage of steroids may do your dog more harm than good.
In the case of some airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from allergy injections
In the case of food allergies a well balanced and high quality diet is a must
Bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best. Beware bathing can also work counterproductive when fighting of certain infections so be sure to consult your vet before bathing a dog with skin problems/allergies.
If your dog has allergies like grass put clothing and/or boots on them when going outside. If your dog won’t walk with boots make sure to clean their paws and bellies after a walk.
Avoid using any cleaners or perfumes as possible, try natural cleaners on the floor and places they lay or visit often. Only use all natural, hypo allergenic detergents and softeners to wash your dog’s bed
As mentioned before a good diet is essential for a dog with allergies, not only for the ones with a food allergy. A highly nutritious, well balanced meal will support their immune system
Vitamins and Supplements
There are many kinds of dog supplements and vitamins available on the market; in pills, powders, drops, some especially for the skin or coat.
Probiotics are micro organisms that can provide health benefits by adding beneficial bacteria to your dog’s digestive system. You can buy probiotics in pills, supplements, or you can give greek yogurt to your bulldog on a daily basis
Important: Always consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis before starting any treatment. A lot of Bulldogs with skin problems are treated for allergies and the other way around, so make sure to get a diagnosis and when in doubt don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. The internet, forums, fellow bulldog buddies can all be of great help, but I can not emphasize this enough, never rely solely on this, always ask for a medical opinion from a veterinarian before starting any treatment.