Canine specialist shares insights on how to alleviate your dog’s persistent itching.

Your dog could be allergic to fleas or their favourite food (stock photo)

Is your dog always itching and scratching? Veterinarian Dr Kirsten Ronngren shares the three main causes of allergies in canines and how pet owners can combat them

All dogs like a good itch now and then, but if your pet pooch is constantly scratching, licking and biting itself at home, it may indicate they have an allergy.

From fleas to food and pollen, there are numerous reasons your pup could be acting differently to normal, but once you understand the cause of their scratch, it’s easy to relieve them.

Dr Kirsten Ronngren, resident veterinarian at ManyPets, talks through the most common types of allergies, how to spot them and when you should speak to a vet.

Here are the three main underlying causes of allergies in dogs:

Fleas

You can prevent most parasites with flea and worming treatments (stock photo) ( Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Most dogs have had or will pick up fleas at some point in their lives, and usually they are easy to get rid of.

But some canines actually have an allergy to fleas, and it’s even more important they get treated.

Dr Ronngren told the Mirror: “The first thing I always want to rule out when an itchy pet comes to see me is fleas.

“Fleas can cause general itchiness, but some dogs have what we call flea allergy dermatitis (FAD).

“This is where the dog is actually allergic to flea saliva, and their immune system causes significant inflammation in response to a bite.

“These dogs can lick, itchy, chew, and scratch themselves to the point of hair loss, pain and infected skin.

“While it’s important for all dogs to have a regular parasite prevention regimen, it’s critical for FAD dogs.”

Food

It’s possible to work out a food allergy by taking away certain protein sources (stock photos) ( Image: Getty Images)

Your dog might like to eat everything and anything in sight, but that doesn’t mean their belly will thank them for it.

Canines can develop food allergies, and more surprisingly, have an intolerance to popular and common protein sources, such as meat.

Dr Ronngren explained: “A lot of pet owners think that food sensitivities/ allergies are caused by grain in diets.

“While there is definitely a small group of dogs that can be sensitive to things like wheat or corn, the vast majority of truly food allergic dogs are hypersensitive to the protein source.

“That means that what stimulates the immune system is the protein in their diet such as turkey, chicken, beef, venison, fish, etc.

“The best way to determine if a dog is food sensitive is to do a novel protein or hydrolysed protein diet trial, where the pet solely eats a diet with a protein source that it has never had before.

“This can take upwards of eight weeks to truly determine success, and is best done under direction of your vet.”

Environment

Your pooch can be tested for environmental allergies like pollen and grass (stock photo) ( Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dogs can suffer from hay fever just like humans and it’s most common around the spring and summer months.

Treatment may involve topical shampoos, medication or just regular cleaning and different walking times.

Dr Ronngren explained: “That big beautiful world out there may indeed be the culprit of your dog’s allergies. Pollen, grasses, moulds, and dander among others may be what stimulates itchiness.

“In addition to avoiding things we know can be a flare for our pet, these days there are great and safe oral and topical medications that can help support itchy dogs.

“A referral to your closest veterinary dermatologist for allergy testing is also an option.”

Itchy pets typically require a combination of things to keep them comfortable, and Dr Ronngren advises always speaking to a vet about your options.

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