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Allergy is a disease

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					Allergy is a disease in which the immune system reacts abnormally to every day substanc es
such as pollens, animal dander, mold spores, mites, certain foods and chemicals. All of these
allergic reactions are unpleasant, some are serious, and a few can be fatal. The offensive
substances causing allergies are known as allergens. An allergic reaction may be caused by
inhaling or ingesting the allergen or may be the result of direct contact with the allergen.

What are the signs of allergy?

The most common signs are scratching, face rubbing and biting and chewing at the skin. Usual
locations for signs of allergy are the flank, feet, face, particularly around the eyes, mouth and
ears, as well as areas around the base of the tail. In dogs, allergies are often the underlying
cause of persistent skin disease. However not all scratching is due to an allergy. Conditions such
as thyroid diseas e, fleas and certain infections, such as ringworm, can cause similar signs.

How do dogs get allergies?

They are generally inherited. The typical allergic dog starts with a short period of biting and
chewing the first year. This may be mild and hardly noticeable. With repeated exposures to the
offending allergens, the dog gradually experiences prolonged periods of discomfort and more
severe signs. Allergies occur whenever the offending allergens are present. The more common
allergens such as house dust mites or mold spores will produce signs of allergy year round, while
allergies from plants that pollinate during warm mont hs only happen at that time.

Food allergy can happen by itself or it may be a component of an overall allergy problem.
Because of the complexity of allergy diagnosis, the combination of patient history, physical
examination and allergy signs in the pet are all import ant in making an accurate diagnosis.

Can allergies be prevented?

Since allergies are inherited, there is no absolute way to prevent them. However allergies can be
controlled.. The best control is achieved through avoidanc e of the offending allergens, s o if, for
example, your pet is allergic to fleas, it is better to prevent flea infestation. But allergens like dusts
and mites are virtually impossible to avoid res ulting in the need for alternative allergy treatments.

How do I know if my dog has allergie s?

If your dog is persistently chewing its feet or scratching at its face, allergy may be a possible
cause. Unfortunately, there are no specific signs for allergy so you will need to rely on your pet 's
vet to make that det ermination.

Allergy diagnosis requires eliminating other causes for your dog's clinical signs. This involves
taking a detailed history of your dog's signs, a complete physical examination and some
preliminary laboratory tests. If it is found that an allergy is the likely cause, your vet may
recommend allergy testing to confirm the diagnosis.

How are allergies treated?

There are a number of different ways or combinations of ways to treat allergies. If it is mild,
control may be achieved through avoiding contact with the offending allergens and medications to
control the clinical signs. In pets with more severe allergies, or in pets where allergies occur year
round, specific allergy treatments such as immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be needed. This is
often recommended because prolonged use of certain medications, especially steroids, reduces
itching, but produces serious side-effects which may decrease the quality and lengt h of your pet's
life. The vet may, therefore, discuss various alternative treatments with you bas ed on your needs
and the needs of your pet.

How succe ssful i s treatment?

The success depends on several factors including the overall health of your dog, the severity of
the allergies, and a commitment to therapy. In general, the steps to successful allergy treatment
involve the following:

    1.   Trying to avoid or reduc e the allergens in the environment.
    2.   Giving recommended medications to control clinical signs, and
    3.   Identifying the specific allergens causing clinical signs in your pet, followed by allergy
         immunot herapy.

This combination will result in successful allergy treatment for most pets.

Allergies to dogs.

Sneezes, rashes or asthmatic reactions can be triggered by any breed of dog. Dandruff from the
top skin and certain proteins in saliva and urine cause allergic problems in humans. Most
research on allergies caused by pets has centred on thos e created by cats. This is not surprising
because they are twice as likely to make their owners sneeze as dogs. For example it has been
discovered that cats with long hair tend to shed less allergen and so their owners have fewer
reactions. Cats with short hair give off more allergen.

Sufferers should keep their dogs outdoors at night. Certainly dogs and cats that live indoors
should not be allowed on beds or even in the allergic person's bedroom. However res earch has
shown that if a cat or dog is washed once a week the airborne allergens are cut drastically.

Dandruff collects on the carpets and in upholstered furniture so for those suffering allergies it is
better to be without carpets and have wooden furniture or leather. If it is impossible to remove
carpets then these should be steamed cleaned every three months to remove allergens. It is also
advis able to wash walls and floors.

Animal allergens are very small and very sticky and once they are secreted they dry on the
animal's fur. There they stick until becoming airborne during petting and grooming. Then,
because they are so small, they can stay airborne for a long time and, because they are sticky,
they adhere to walls, clothing, and heating and cooling ducts.

Some years ago I gave up smoking and noticed that I was coughing and choking when handling
dogs. After a few tests I was told: "Mr. Dogman you are an asthmatic and allergic to dogs." Sadly
I now have to take all kind of things to help control my allergic symptoms from medication to
inhalers and I wash my hands more than a surgeon, change my clothes several times a day and
wash my dogs every week.

But with all my allergies I could not live without dogs because I know that dogs enhance our
quality of life and are worth having around. So, if you are allergic to dogs, don't give up on them,
they are still wort h having around.

				
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