Outdoor Molds on Fall Leaves Can Bring On Dog Allergies

The changing seasons usually bring on an allergy flare-up for our boxer Elsie. The Fall flare-up is most often brought on by increasing outdoor molds. Those pretty fall leaves pile up, get wet and breed molds. Even if we rake up every last leaf in our yard, it won’t prevent molds from other yards to bother her. I just make sure to wipe her feet when she comes in from outside and to give her regular baths. And, of course, her allergy shots keep the flare-ups from getting too problematic.

I found this cool mold map on Weather.com.  Here is what the mold spores situation looks like today in the U.S..  Visit the Weather.com mold spores map to see the latest update:
http://www.weather.com/maps/activity/allergies/usmoldspores_large.html

weather.com mold spores map
Mold Spores Map from Weather.com

Dog Allergy Causes. Flea Allergies.

Dog flea allergyFlea allergy dermatitis is one of the most common skin allergies in dogs.  Dogs that have a flea allergy are hypersensitive to the flea’s saliva, which is passed into the dog’s skin when it bites.  It only takes a couple of flea bites to cause pain and suffering in an allergic dog.

Many dogs with other inhalant allergies will become allergic to fleas as well.  They usually become sensitive between two to four years of age.  When an allergic dog is bit by a flea, they will scratch and bite at their skin – often causing hair loss, skin lesions, and red inflamed skin.  Dogs with flea allergies often have thinning hair above the base of their tails.

If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from a flea allergy, you should check to see if there are signs of fleas on their skin.  If you don’t see the fleas themselves, you may see some proof of their existence.  Fleas will leave behind flea dirt (or feces) which are dark brown or black flecks left behind on your dog’s skin. When introduced to water, this flea dirt will turn a reddish color. However, this flea dirt may not always be visible on your dog even if fleas are present.

The best thing you can do to prevent flea allergies, is to make your dog inhospitable for fleas. We discuss some suggested flea prevention steps in our Allergy Treatments section.

Dog Allergy Causes. Air Fresheners and Cleaning Products.

Cleaning ProductsAs you clean you home to eliminate dust and other allergens, you could be causing more harm than good.  Perfumes and chemicals found in air fresheners and cleaning products can often trigger allergic reactions in sensitive dogs.

Many cleaning products today, like dust cleaners, and bathroom and kitchen cleaners, come in aerosol cans or sprays which make it easier to cover large surfaces.  Unfortunately, these sprays are also good at sending chemicals into the air, which can then be inhaled by you and your pets.

Laundry detergents and dryer sheets also contain dyes and perfumes which can harm allergy-prone dogs.  These chemicals can be particularly bothersome if you wash your dog’s bedding – since your pup will be lying directly on these allergen-rich fabrics.

If your dog is itchy year round, particularly after a house cleaning session, you may want to consider changing your cleaning products to those which are more allergy-friendly.  We’ll discuss more allergy-safe cleaning options in our Allergy Treatments section.

Dog Allergy Causes. Dust Allergies & Dust Mites.

Like humans, dogs can also become sensitive to dust and develop allergies over time.  When we talk about dust allergies, what we’re really talking about are dust mites.

Dust mites, related to spiders, are creatures who feed off of skin cells shed by people and animals.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you look at that photo!) these little mites are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope.  This means you could have a raging dust mite problem and not know it.

Dust mites are happiest in warm, humid environments. And, since they feed off of dead skin cells, they are most often found in bedding, furniture and carpeting.  Bedrooms are a popular hangout for dust mites.  Many dogs sleep in their owners’ bedroom, which can be a problem if they are sensitive to dust mites.

If your dog has a dust mite allergy, you’ll likely see them itching and chewing at their skin.  When our dog Elsie was allergy tested, we found that one of the many items she was allergic to, was dust.  Does this mean we found a way to eliminate all dust from our home?  Heck no!  Fat chance of that. But, we have found ways to make our home less hospitable for these little pests.

Later, when we discuss dog allergy treatments, we’ll talk about how you can minimize dust mite problems in your home.

Dog Allergy Causes. Food Allergies.

Food allergies are perhaps the most debated cause of skin allergy problems in dogs. As stated in “The Allergy Solution for Dogs”, by Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M., a true dog food allergy accounts for less than 10 percent of the allergy cases brought in to veterinarians. Yet, a dog’s food is often the first area where owners focus their attention.

However, there are still a number of dogs who suffer from food allergies. Here is a list of the top common food allergens for dogs:

  • Beef
  • Milk
  • Corn
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Yeast

Each of the above ingredients is commonly found in commercial dog foods. The less expensive the food is, the higher the chances are that it will include large amounts of cheap fillers like wheat and corn.

So what if your food claims to be “Lamb and Rice”. It should just be “Lamb and Rice”, right? Not necessarily so. It’s important for you to carefully read your dog food labels. Unless you are feeding your dog a “limited ingredient” formula, chances are, that so-called two ingredient food also includes many of the top allergen foods listed above, including wheat, beef, eggs, and more. Always read your labels.

How do you know if your dog may have a food allergy? If their allergy symptoms aren’t seasonal – meaning they are itching and uncomfortable all year round – chances are they have a food allergy. Dogs with food allergies also tend to have more stomach problems, resulting in frequent diarrhea and vomiting.

Later on, we’ll discuss different options for treating food allergies. If you suspect that your dog may have food allergies, it is recommended that you first talk to your veterinarian before making any dramatic changes to your dog’s diet.