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Dog allergies – Inhalant Allergy

Inhalant Allergy
The most common type of allergy is the inhalant type. In fact, the most common cause of itching in the dog is inhalant allergy.

Inhalant allergies that occur seasonally are created by tree, grass, and weed pollens grains swirling in the air. Other irritants include household dust and dust mites, mold spores and mildew.

When humans inhale these allergens, we express the allergy as a respiratory problem sometimes called "hay fever." The dog’s reaction, however, usually produces severe, generalized itching.

Most dogs that have inhalant allergy react to several allergens. If the number is small and they are the seasonal type, itching may last for just a few weeks at a time during one or two periods of the year. If the number of allergens is large or they are they are present year-round, the dog may itch constantly.

Treatment for inhalant allergies ranges from keeping your dog comfortable with gentle baths to drug therapy in order to interrupt the itch cycle until the skin can be healed and the allergen has diminished.

Treatment largely depends on the length of the dog’s allergy season.

Most often anti-inflammatory therapy (steroids) will dramatically block the allergic reaction.
Generally, steroids are only used on a brief and intermittent basis. This therapeutic approach is recommended for the middle-aged or older dog that has year round itching caused by inhalant allergy. Small doses of steroids such as prednisone can be invaluable in treating a dog with chronic or acute allergic reactions when all else fails. Again, owners should always follow their veterinarian’s suggestions and advice.

Antihistamines can also be of value in treating the allergic dog either by themselves or when combined with steroids. Fatty acid supplementation can also be implemented with steroids and antihistamine. When the three of them are combined, most allergic dogs are significantly improved.

Some dogs may get relief from antihistamines but owners should ask their veterinarian for proper dosage for their dog and may have to try more than one before finding the formula that helps.

Because some allergens may be absorbed through the skin, many dogs are helped by frequent bathing with a hypoallergenic shampoo or rinses containing oatmeal, aloe vera, or eucalyptus. In addition to removing surface antigens, bathing generally provides some temporary relief from itching.

Another form of allergy treatment is hyposensitization with specific antigen injections – "allergy shots". Although hyposensitization is the ideal way to treat inhalant allergy, it does have some drawbacks and may not be the best choice in certain circumstances.

Once the specific sources of allergy are identified, very small amounts of the antigen are injected weekly. The purpose of this therapy is to reprogram the body’s immune system. It is hoped that as time passes, the immune system will become less reactive to the problem-causing allergens. If hyposensitization appears to help the dog, injections will continue for several years. For most dogs, a realistic goal is for the itching to be significantly reduced in severity; in some dogs, itching may completely resolve.

Environmental controls include frequent vacuuming and dusting of the areas where the dog spends time and keeping his bedding dust-free.

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