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So, what causes these allergy symptoms? Surprisingly enough, the most common allergy triggers for pets is not environmental triggers, or even food triggers, it’s fleas. Yep. Fleas. In South Carolina dogs can have a flea problem year round!
The hierarchy of pet allergen triggers goes something like this:
Be sure your dog is on a safe Flea Preventative from your vet year round, then start a journal and create an attack plan. Starting a pet journal will help you identify allergen triggers so that you can discuss them with your vet. Note all the symptoms, when they appear, and note other facts about the day. Did you take a walk? What time was it? Note the month, day, and time. Did you change floor cleaning chemicals? How about laundry detergent? Did Fido roll in the new plants? Did you give Fifi a piece of chicken from your lunch? Keeping a journal will help you notate and look for patterns that will help you identify your pet’s allergen triggers.
Thankfully, in today’s busy world, most people don’t even have to keep one long. When you commit to watching your pet’s interactions in the world, you may discover the trigger or triggers in as little as a few days to a week!
Killed the fleas? Still have issues? Refer to your journal. Has Fifi had these symptoms year-round or did they just start? Look for patterns when you expose your pet to various situations.
As far as treatment options, some pets are affected by grass and pollen levels, especially those smaller breeds closer to ground.
Food allergens tend to be the least likely cause of pet allergies for most pets, however, for a pet suffering from multiple allergens (food and environmental, or food and fleas), reducing the amount of exposure to allergens will bring much-needed relief.
The most common pet food grain allergens are:
As these common grains contribute to a lot of allergy symptoms in pets, it’s no wonder why so many folks have hopped on the “grain free food” wagon. While meat should always be the first ingredient in any dry commercial pet food, low-allergen whole grains can be beneficial to dogs, serving as prebiotics (or food) for the probiotic bacteria that grow and thrive in the digestion tract. So, unless your pet has severe grain allergies, I always recommend to switch to a low-allergen grain source, like rice, pearled millet, or oatmeal, which we use in our recipes.
If you have successfully gotten rid of corn, wheat, and soy from your pet’s food AND TREATS (don’t forget those!), and Fido is still itchy, try changing protein sources. Chicken and beef are common protein allergens in dogs. Switching to a fish or fowl-based protein may bring relief. Our Cold Water Recipe and Grizzly Salmon Oil is a great go to recipe for itchy dogs.
With any food or dietary changes, make sure to transition your pet to the new food gradually, over the course of one week. Generally, when switching to a better quality food, you may see some results in your pet’s overall health and appearance in as little as one week. Look for full results after a 2-3 months.