Just like humans, dogs’ bodies are designed to identify threatening materials, substances and foreign bacteria that could be possible diseases and illnesses. Allergies occur when the dog’s body wrongly interprets everyday safe substances or allergens as threatening.
The immune system’s wrong interpretation accordingly triggers an unnecessary response, which manifests as an allergy. Any allergen that is ingested, comes into contact with a dog’s skin or is inhaled, usually causes a variety of symptoms that may affect the skin, lungs and digestive system.
The symptoms are basically the body trying to rid itself of the allergen due to the faulty interpretation of a harmless substance.
Dog allergies are divided into two main sections, namely food allergies; which include food itself and ingredients in certain foods, as well as prescription drugs or supplements; and environmental allergies, of which the most common are grass, trees, weed pollen, mold spores, dust, dust mites, dander, feathers, cigarette smoke, certain fabrics, fleas, sprays and/or shampoos that prevents fleas, insects and other pests, perfumes, cleaning products you use in your home, rubber, plastic objects or materials, wool and cotton.
It is important to remember that dog allergies and bronchitis can go hand-in-hand, especially if the allergen is cigarette smoke or other chemicals your dog gets exposed to on a regular basis.
Of the above-named allergens, the most classic group are pollen-related allergies. Pollen, being the allergen, means that your dog isn’t allergic to the grass, trees or plants themselves, but to plant/grass pollen. Dogs can develop allergic reactions from inhaling grass pollen or coming into contact with it.
Food allergies are also very prominent in dogs, but should not always be misinterpreted as intolerance for certain types of food. This type of allergy usually also occurs due to a genetic predisposition to develop it, but could also be triggered by the dog’s environment.
Breeds that are especially prone to get food allergies are Retrievers, German Shepherds, Dachshunds and Cocker Spaniels. Anyway, you should try to buy your dog the best hypoallergenic dog food, just to be on the safe side.
Another big culprit from the above list is fleas and pest control sprays and shampoos and other household chemicals, that “disinfect”?. Products also included in this category are lawn fertilizers, garden herbicides and insecticides, de-icing salts, antifreeze, formaldehyde and mothballs.
Remember, you dog’s legs are a lot shorter than yours, bringing them much closer to the floor and/or carpets – in most homes, caked with chemical and pesticide residue. Dogs also have smaller lungs and faster metabolisms than humans and their bodies have to work a lot harder to get rid of toxins. This causes faster breathing and a heightened processing speed of these toxins, and so, a vicious circle starts.
We have to keep in mind that dogs are dependent on humans for the food they eat and the environment they live in – they can’t choose any one of those things for themselves. It is therefore very important to pay close attention to your dog in order to make sure they stay allergy free and, if they are affected by allergies, they get the treatment they need as soon as possible.