Your dog’s body has a remarkable immune system of antibodies, which are protein substances produced by cells called lymphocytes, that destroy antigens that invade the body, such as viruses and bacteria.
This system can become supersensitive to such foreign particles as flea saliva, pollen, house dust, and wool, however, and this super sensitivity can produce chemicals that cause an allergy, a severe inflammatory reaction. Allergenic inhalant dermatitis has been well documented in dogs. It is caused by a super sensitivity to certain particles in the air, such as pollen from trees, ragweed, grass, and other plants, house dust, feathers, and wool.
The allergy follows a predictable history:
1. It is inherited, so if the parents had it, the offspring probably will too.
2. It is seasonal – the signs appear about the same time every year.
3. The signs begin between six months and three years of age.
4. The signs include severe biting and scratching, licking the paws, sneezing, rubbing the face, and generalized redness of the skin.
Home treatment is directed toward symptomatic relief and avoiding the foreign particle, or allergen. Bathing your dog with a mild shampoo, (such as baby shampoo) will soothe any skin inflammation and remove any allergens on the hair coat. Calamine lotion can be applied to the irritated skin, and hydrogen peroxide (3 percent), and antibiotic ointments are also helpful.
Your veterinarian will take time to get a good history. He or she may be able to identify the allergen in your pet’s environment. If allergic inhalant dermatitis is the problem, most veterinarians at this time use a low dose of steroids to relieve the signs. However, steroids, even in low dose, should mot be given for long-term treatment because they have some very serious side effects.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns do not be afraid to contact your veterinarian.