Scratching, licking, rubbing against, or rolling around on rugs, furniture, grass, and trees are all ways your dog works to relieve an itch. If your dog does this occasionally, it’s totally normal. After all, we all get an itch that needs to be scratched from time to time. But if you notice your dog is frequently scratching, licking, chewing on, grooming, or rubbing parts of their body, it indicates they may have allergies that need to be addressed. Of course, the first step is to visit your vet to determine the cause. Once you know what the allergy is, CBD oil for dog allergies may be helpful.
What Causes Dog Allergies?
As with humans, there are many different causes of allergies in our furry friends. For instance, they may be allergic to:
- Fleas, which tend to attack the ears, belly, and lower back. It’s important to get fleas and the allergies they cause under control as they can lead to secondary infections and other potentially life-threatening diseases, such as tapeworms and anemia. Plus, it’s highly uncomfortable for your pup to have flea allergy dermatitis, which can lead to open sores from licking and biting their own flesh. Other pests that can cause allergic reactions include dust mites and other parasites.
- Food, including specific ingredients in some dog foods, which can lead to major issues like hives and itchiness to facial swelling, sneezing, and droopy eyes. Food allergies or intolerances to beef, dairy, eggs, or wheat, for example, can also lead to stomach upset or diarrhea or affect the coat, causing it to look dull. Foot and ear infections can also be connected to or made worse by food allergies.
- Environmental, as dogs tend to be closer to the ground, which can lead to itching, irritation, runny eyes, and sneezing. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to pollen from grasses, weeds, and trees (i.e., hay fever), as well as carpets or the chemicals used to clean floors. They can also react to dust, mold, and animal dander. Yes, dogs can even experience a reaction from their own fur and dander.
Hygiene issues can also lead to skin allergies. Excess dust, dirt, debris, saliva, etc., that build up on a dog’s skin can also increase the risk of unwanted, harmful germs.
Dogs, like humans, can also suffer from their own genetics. That is, some dogs are just more likely to experience allergies, as it passes down from parents to offspring. If you have a breed of dog that’s more likely to have skin allergies (e.g., American Pit Bull Terriers, Bichon Frises, Boxers, Retrievers, Bull Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, etc.), it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their coat and help ensure they’re cleaned regularly to avoid inflammatory conditions.
Some dogs can also suffer from acute allergies, such as when stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet, bitten by a spider, or to certain medications or even vaccinations. While most dogs only experience temporary discomfort or swelling, others can have more severe reactions that can be life-threatening.
Allergy symptoms can vary from dog to dog and allergen to allergen. For instance, you will likely see one dog with no reaction, whereas another can show significant signs of discomfort. When your dog is exposed to an allergen, common symptoms to watch for include:
- Runny nose
- Droopy eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Itchy skin
- Rashes or hives
- Excessive licking or scratching
- Persistent grooming
- Biting or gnawing at the skin or fur
- Sores or open wounds
- Strange odor, especially from the ears, feet, or skin
- Chronic ear infections
- Swelling around the face, including the eyes, ears, and lips
One of the easiest ways to keep an eye on your pet’s allergies is to check their paws regularly. If you see your dog licking or gnawing on their feet, it’s often an indication of an allergy.
Treatment Options for Dog Allergies
The first step is to find out what your pet is allergic to. Dog allergy testing kits are available to help you figure out what’s causing the issue with your pup. Then help remove or minimize the offender. This isn’t always possible, though. For example, switching your dog’s food to eliminate an ingredient can be easy. But if they’re allergic to grass, it can be all but impossible to prevent contact.
In addition, to help your pet avoid allergic reactions, you can bathe them regularly, wipe off their paws after they’ve been outside, and carefully watch them when they’re exposed to new chemicals, foods, or environments. Make sure their bedding and areas where they spend a lot of time don’t develop an accumulation of grime, which can be breeding grounds for bugs, molds, germs, and other irritants.
Veterinarians typically suggest antibiotics, special medicated shampoos and conditioners, and skin creams to help address an acute infection. Other options include anti-itch shots like Cytopoin or immunotherapy to help your dog become less vulnerable to the allergen.
Unfortunately, it can take a lot of trial and error to find what’s most effective for your dog. And you may never find a 100% fix.
Plus, many medications come with side effects or are only temporarily effective. For instance, anti-itching shots can help reduce itching and inflammation, but they offer relief for just four to eight weeks before symptoms return. This can be helpful if the allergy is seasonal, but it can lead to a lot of vet visits for year-round causes. Plus, side effects can include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and swelling and can lead to a severe reaction that necessitates immediate medical attention.
Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, can help increase your dog’s tolerance to specific allergens. It’s important to note that these shots only work for environmental causes, such as pollen, grasses, and molds. They won’t help with flea or food allergies. Between 60 and 80% of dogs typically respond well to these shots, especially when the dogs are younger.
Costs can vary widely depending on the size of your dog, your location, and the cost of vets in your area. Monthly treatment for four to six months is typically suggested.
Another common medication is Apoquel, which is an anti-itch tablet. However, it suppresses the immune system and can increase vulnerability to other infections. It’s also not for use in dogs less than one year old or those that already have an infection.
Steroids like prednisone are anti-inflammatories that work really well for acute reactions. However, long-term use can interfere with gut health and lead to diarrhea and vomiting, increased weight gain, and more.
Finally, there are over-the-counter options like Benadryl, which is generally considered safe for dogs but can lead to lethargy.
CBD Oil for Dog Allergies
A lesser-known option to help relieve the discomfort from allergies is CBD oil. CBD oil, derived from non-mind-altering hemp, interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body. This system helps regulate pain, hunger, mood, and memory. And when it’s affected by CBD, the system helps increase relaxation, reduce pain, lower stress and anxiety, support a healthy inflammatory response, promote more restful sleep, and stimulate healthy appetite without the harmful side effects of THC.
Because CBD may help rebalance the endocannabinoid system and support healthy levels of inflammation, it may help reduce discomfort from allergens. And because it helps reduce stress and helps calm the dog, it may help tame excessive scratching and grooming in response to allergens. CBD oil has even been found in research to help support skin health and a healthy immune response.
Will CBD Oil Help Dogs with Allergies Takeaway
Helping relieve your dog’s suffering due to allergies takes a well-rounded approach. This includes limiting exposure, improving hygiene, potentially using special shampoos and conditioners, and working with your vet on various solutions, especially for acute reactions. In addition, CBD oil may help calm the skin and your dog. Plus, it has fewer side effects than many drugs offered for dog allergies.
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