==> Dog Skin Allergies are the NUMBER ONE reason for costly vet visits!
Strategies how to Avoid at least some of them
As dog owners we cannot easily understand what a skin allergy means to a dog:
Imagine you have a flu-like cold, or remind yourself of the last one you had. At such times you feel very miserable, right? Head and limbs are aching, you are coughing and sneezing all the time, you are grumpy and you feel very weak. Ideally, you just want to stay in bed and get over with it as soon as possible!
When our dog has a skin allergy it may feel just as badly, but we might think this cannot be because "it's just a skin disorder".
However, a skin disorder for a dog is as bad as a flu-like cold for us: As you know say from the MYGERMANSHEPHERD Health Manual that you got for free upon your free subscription, allergic reactions* in dogs manifest primarily in the skin, while allergic reactions in humans primarily manifest in a runny nose, coughing, and itchy eyes (see dog skin allergies).
* An allergic reaction is basically a hypersensitivity reaction of your dog's immune system.
So when your dog is feverishly scratching its skin, think of it as if you had a really bad cold or a flu. This should allow us to better understand our dog's level of discomfort.
However, while for us a flu starts with an infection, canine skin allergies don't need an infection (see dog skin infections).
Brief insight into:
- Skin Allergy Causes
- Skin Allergy Symptoms
- Treating and Avoiding Skin Allergies
Skin Allergy Causes
In the order of historical prevalence:
- Insect-mediated skin allergies
- Food or Drug-mediated skin allergies
- Inhalant skin allergies
- Skin contact allergies
- Heredity-mediated skin allergies
Until recently, insect-mediated skin allergies were the majority - allergies caused by insect bites or stings, and in maybe 90% of these caused by flea bites (this is why the layman's term for this group of allergies is Flea Allergy Dermatitis).
Canine skin is thinner than human skin, and hence fleas can easily bite through your dog's skin to feed on your dog's blood. To make it short, the flea bite saliva is the allergen that causes an allergic reaction in your dog. Your dog's skin will itch 'as if it had fleas' - well, it has!
Although insect-mediated skin allergies are still a major cause, the dramatically increased and wide-spread use of good flea and tick remedies has helped to drastically reduce this type of skin allergy in most parts of the world.
It is probably fair to say that for the last 10 years food and drug mediated skin allergies have become the major cause of canine allergies - even if we look at all skin disorders combined, ie including skin infections!
This is a sad development because this type of canine allergies are even easier to prevent!
No time to prepare home-made meals for ourselves and our dog, no time to think about the prescription of an average vet and to apply own common sense, and not even the time to open relevant emails, to click through, and to read them in full. No time for anything really.
The third prevalent cause are inhalant skin allergies. This means that our dog inhales allergens such as dust mites, grasses, molds, tree and weed pollens, or chemicals from house cleaning agents, insecticides, room refreshers and the like.
Compared to these three major causes of canine allergies, the remaining causes are negligible. - Although in some households skin contact allergies do play a role too: Irritants that have direct contact with your dog's skin (or indeed your own skin!). Particularly chemical floor and carpet cleaners, wood preservatives, wall paints, and laundry detergents.
Finally, heredity-mediated skin allergies do play a role for some dog breeds, but are rather negligible for the German Shepherd breed.
Skin Allergy Symptoms
In the order of prevalence:
- Continuous scratching, biting and/or rubbing due to intense itching
- Miserable, snappish and generally unpleasant behavior
- Hives and/or swollen eyelids, or patches of hair loss, rashes, blebs/vesicles or bullae, or lumps or bumps beneath the skin
- Diarrhea, Vomiting, difficulty in breathing, weakness or even collapse
- Anaphylactic shock
Intense and prolonged scratching is an obvious symptom that your dog suffers a skin allergy.
A prolonged miserable and unpleasant behavior of a dog is overlooked by most dog owners as what it really is: The dog feels very uncomfortable itself, because of the allergic reaction of its immune system.
Note that all dogs, and this is particularly true for our German Shepherds, have an inbred extreme desire to please us, to make us smile, to make us happy. If your GSD shows no such desire for days on end, although you treat your dog well, you may want to consider if this may be down to an allergy your dog is suffering from.
Hives - raised, circular, itchy wheals on the skin - do not necessarily appear at the point of contact with the skin, or at least not there alone. Because hives are a symptom of an allergic reaction of the dog's immune system, they can appear anywhere on your dog's body (but typically in addition to the point of contact of the allergen with the skin).
Finally, anaphylactic shock is most commonly caused by drugs containing penicillin or other antibiotics. The next common cause is the venom in the sting of bees or wasps - or, depending on where you live, indeed snake or spider bites. The third most common cause for anaphylactic shock is vaccination (to be dealt with in a future Periodical).
This is the prime reason why you must not resort to DIY vaccination of your dog using OTC vaccines: If you cannot then also resort to DIY treatment of the Anaphylactic shock, your dog may die within a mere minutes(!).
Treating and Avoiding Skin Allergies
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