Your dog licks himself a lot, his skin is itchy, he scratches himself to the bone and makes small pimples?
A diagnosis by a veterinary dermatologist will allow you to determine whether your dog has atopic dermatitis (learn more here).
Most atopic dogs are also significantly more allergic to one or more families of allergens (plants, grasses, insects, mites, food, etc.). Understanding and making a final diagnosis of their allergies can allow you to improve your dog's quality of life, in a very short time and with simple things you can implement at home.
The interest of the tests is to discover which families of allergens cause the attacks in order to try to reduce them as much as possible. Once identified, a desensitization program and daily actions can be implemented on the advice of your veterinary dermatologist.
Skin tests, also called intradermal reactions, are performed on a part of the flank, on shaved skin. Several injections containing the allergens are then made under the skin (intradermal injection). The reaction is then observed after about 20 minutes to measure the local allergic reaction. If the injection site swells, your dog is allergic. This procedure requires that you leave your dog with the specialist for a few hours, as your dog will be slightly sedated during the injections.
Blood tests are also possible, where tests will be done in vitro in a laboratory, putting the allergens in contact with blood serum. Immunoglobulin responses will then be studied to show allergic reactions.
Skin tests give reliable and quick results, blood tests are recommended in case of complex allergies and for more advanced tests.
That's it, the tests are done and your dog is allergic to acarids or dust mites. Don't be afraid, although frightening, this diagnosis is not as bad as it seems.
It would be utopian to believe that we can get rid of them completely. They are everywhere, in the dust, in the sofas, in the carpets and in your dog's bed.
Here are some tips to reduce their presence and limit your dog's allergy:
- Air the rooms regularly, dust mites like humidity and heat. Temperature variations will make them flee. Take your dog's basket out every morning for better ventilation.
- Do not overheat your home, they will feel too comfortable there.
- If possible, avoid carpets and large rugs that cannot be thoroughly cleaned regularly.
- Vacuum regularly the rooms where your dog is, as well as its basket(s).
- Regularly wash the sheets, carpets, beds where your dog settles. High temperature washing is recommended, but to save money, you can wash colder by adding baking soda to sanitize.
These mites are present in dry food that we store in our cupboards. Nothing serious about our bags of flour, rice or legumes, your dog should not go near them, but this is a problem if your dog is fed dry food.
If this is the case, there are several easy tips to limit the presence of mites in your kibble:
- Close the bag tightly after each opening
- Store the original bag of kibble in a container that can be resealed.
- Do not store the kibble near a heat source
- Discard kibble dust from the bottom of the bag (or give it to other dogs)
- Freeze portions of kibble in advance, kibble freezes very well because it does not contain water. The negative temperature will kill the mites.
- Wash your dog's food bowls regularly
If your dog is having an attack, medications are prescribed by your veterinarian to reduce inflammation, cut down on scratching, and/or treat wounds if applicable with antibiotics.
If your dog is not having an attack, additional skin moisturizing and regular washing with appropriate shampoos will keep your dog clean and in good condition.
More generally, supplement with essential fatty acids to improve your dog's skin health, such as salmon oil.
Desensitization is the only curative treatment for allergies.
The principle is to inject increasing doses of the allergen in question, over a long period of time, in order to reprogram the immune system to no longer react as strongly to exposure. The ultimate goal is to reduce or even stop the need for medication and improve your dog's quality of life, as well as yours.
If you want to try it, your veterinarian can offer you a desensitization kit, tailor-made to your dog's results, which comes in the form of subcutaneous injections that you can do at home, without having to go to the veterinarian. The kit comes with a well established protocol and program.
Desensitization kits are inexpensive compared to the price of medications (anti-itch, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics).
See you next time on The Pets Ark!
The Pets Ark family