Watching for Allergic Reactions in Your Puppy

Dogs and puppies that have allergies suffer from swollen and itchy paws, itchy skin or gums, sneezing, and eczema. Some dogs even suffer severe internal upset, like respiratory problems and digestive issues. The worst part is that dogs can’t articulate what’s wrong, so pinning down the culprit is difficult.

Allergen sources

Canine allergens come from many varied sources:

  • Nature: Trees, grass, weeds, house and garden plants, pollen, mold, dust, dander, feathers, fleas, and dust mites

  • Household products: Perfumes, prescription (as well as illegal) drugs, cleaning products, fabrics, insecticide, cedar chips, rubber, plastics, and cigarettes

  • Food and food ingredients: Beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, and soy

A puppy who develops an allergy really does suffer miserably. How can you tell that your puppy is having an allergic reaction to a substance or food? If your puppy develops an allergy, his body goes into overdrive trying to rid his system of whatever it is.

If your puppy's skin comes in contact with an allergen, he may develop a rash or simply itch to scrape off the offending molecules. If the allergen is inhaled, your puppy may develop a cough — or worse, bronchitis — to dispel the foreign substance. If your puppy eats something that doesn’t agree with him, he may vomit or have diarrhea.

If you suspect your dog has allergies and you’re unable to isolate the allergen, talk to your veterinarian. Routine tests can determine what’s bugging your puppy. Action can relieve the discomfort, or medication can be prescribed to soothe the symptoms.

Tips for preventing allergic reactions

To prevent possible allergic reactions, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use detergent soap designed for babies’ diapers when washing your puppy’s bedding.

  • Check the sprays used in your home, yard, and garden. Don’t use any products toxic to your pet. Plain white vinegar is a surprisingly effective pest control and cleaning agent.

  • Because many dogs are allergic to commercial disinfectants, use white vinegar and baking soda or bleach and water (1⁄4 cup of bleach per gallon of water) to clean the areas of your home you share with your puppy.

  • Don’t overuse cleaning or parasite products. Flea sprays, powders, and dips can be toxic.

  • Watch what you feed your puppy throughout his life. Many dogs have or over time acquire food allergies. If you suspect a food allergy, speak to your veterinarian. He’ll likely suggest a dietary change and may want to narrow your puppy’s diet to pinpoint the cause.

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