Perfect Puppy Care Book – Chapter 7 – Puppy Health Care (Part 8)
Chapter 7 – Puppy Health Care (Part 8)
There is no way to cover all the illnesses that could affect your puppy throughout her life in this guide. But some ailments are more common than others. Learn about some of the more common disorders and diseases that your puppy may experience so that you’ll be better prepared if she starts showing symptoms. Here are a few of the more common problems.
It seems that allergies are becoming more common in puppies. Genetics can play a role; if your puppy’s parents had allergies, then she is likely to have them, too. Certain breeds also seem to be more prone to allergies than others.
An allergy is a reaction caused by exposure to a trigger. The trigger is called an antigen. There are three main triggers of dog allergies:
- Fleas and other biting insects
- Inhaled antigens, such as dust mites, pollen, grasses, and molds.
- Foods and drugs
How your puppy’s body reacts to the antigen is referred to as an allergic reaction. For your puppy to have an allergic reaction to something, she must have been exposed to it at least twice. The first time, her body recognizes the item as an intruder and produces antibodies. The second time, her body releases antibodies and histamines to fight the intruder. Histamines are what cause the allergic reaction. (That’s why antihistamines can be effective—they fight histamines.)
Allergies can cause severe reactions in your puppy, enough to make her miserable. And because your puppy is exposed to so many things, it can be hard to figure out what is triggering her allergy. Allergies also can develop years after the first exposure, so something that your puppy has tolerated for a long time can suddenly produce an allergic reaction. If you have a puppy with allergies, you must stock up on patience and work closely with your veterinarian to find out exactly what’s causing the problem and how best to treat it.
Dogs usually have skin reactions to allergies. Some are immediate and usually cause hives. The worst kind of immediate reaction, anaphylactic shock, is a severe reaction that includes vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, and even death. Some reactions are delayed and can cause severe itching.
Flea Allergic Dermatitis
The most common canine allergy, flea allergic dermatitis, occurs when a puppy is allergic to flea saliva.
Symptoms include itching, inflamed skin, and pimple-like welts usually around the rear and base of the tail, under the legs, and in the groin and belly areas. Puppies will chew and scratch themselves. Their fur may fall out, and the skin will become dry and scaly. Sometimes, the skin breaks down and becomes infected and crusty.
Treatment is a multi-step process. Your veterinarian may prescribe antihistamines to help with itching, antibiotics for skin infections, and flea prevention medication. In addition, you must get rid of the fleas on your puppy and in your home and yard, or she will continue to suffer.
This is the second most common allergic reaction in dogs. It’s a reaction to something that your puppy inhales or absorbs through her skin. It usually develops in puppies and dogs from 1 to 3 years of age. Certain breeds are prone to atopic dermatitis, including Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Poodles, West Highland White Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Wire Fox Terriers, and English and Irish Setters.
Symptoms first appear with the arrival of weed-pollen season, then can progress to be year-round. In earlier stages, dog may scratch at their ears or under their bellies. They may rub their faces on things, trying to relieve the itch. They also can suffer from watery eyes, sneezing, ear infections, and runny noses. A common symptom is licking of the paws. Some dogs may scratch their skin until it bleeds, experience hair loss, and get crusty skin infections. This is just miserable for a puppy, because she can’t get relief from the constant itching.
Treatment involves medication from a veterinarian, who may prescribe antihistamines for itching and antibiotics for skin infections. He also may suggest diet supplements or special shampoos to help bring relief. You may get a referral to a canine dermatologist to try and identify which triggers are affecting your puppy.
The third most common cause of itching and scratching in dogs is food allergy. It can strike dogs of any age. Dogs may be allergic to a variety of foods, including meats, milk, eggs, grains, potatoes, soy, and food additives. These allergies may not bother your puppy initially, but over time they can become sensitive to different foods as their body matures.
Symptoms include severe itching, raised patches of skin, and pimple-like welts, usually on the ears, paws, belly, and backs of the legs. Food allergy is sometimes difficult to diagnose because the symptoms look like those from other allergic reactions.
Treatment involves feeding a hypoallergenic diet and watching for signs of relief. Your veterinarian will recommend a specific brand of food for your puppy. It should be something she hasn’t had before, should contain few ingredients, and should be free of preservatives or additives. Switching your puppy from one brand of food to another will probably not work, because many different brands of dog food have common ingredients. It can take several weeks to several months to see a difference in your puppy’s symptoms.
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