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Allergies

Poodle Allergies

Overview

While your Poodle may not be causing you to have allergies... over 20% of dogs suffer from allergies.

This is a high percentage and some owners do not know, that their dog is experiencing this, as symptoms can vary so greatly. In addition, when a dog is having an allergic reaction, it can surprise some owners since canines can grow into or out of allergies.  This can develop at any age.

Let's take a closer look at the ways that a Poodle can be allergic to elements, signs to look out for, ways to decrease the triggers and treatment options for each particular type. 
What a Poodle May Be Allergic To

There are 5 main categories that can trigger allergies to a Poodle. Due to certain Poodle clips, some are much more obvious with this breed. For Toy Poodles, others are much more severe. The culprits will fall under 1 of the following:
  • Contact
  • Flea
  • Food
  • Inhalant
  • Bacterial (rare but possible)
When a dog is allergic to something, he may show symptoms in externally, internally or both. Recognizing the signs is the first, important step to helping your Poodle.

Poodles and Flea Allergies

Many owners of indoor dogs do not realize the importance of using flea prevention treatments. A flea can jump up to 6 feet, therefore a dog can catch fleas from the vet's office, grooming salon, passing by another dog when walking, etc. When a Poodle is allergic to fleas, it is actually the flea's saliva that causes a reaction. While any fleas will cause itching, dogs that are sensitive to the saliva can have very severe allergic reactions. 

Signs Amazingly, only 1 bite from 1 flea can cause a Poodle to have such severe itching that it causes uncontrollable itching. This can lead to areas where the hair has been chewed off and skin will develop sores. As with contact allergies, those sores can become infected. 

How to HelpTreatment is 2 fold, you will want to get rid of the fleas and provide immediate treatment to your Poodle's skin. If there is a flea on your dog, there are fleas in your home, even if you do not see them. The most common resting place for them is carpeting...you can test this out by walking across the floor with deliberate hard steps while wearing clean, white socks. You would then see small black specks on the bottom of your socks.

Getting rid of fleas is not always easy, particularly in hot climates where fleas hatch every 2-3 weeks. However, all surfaces of the home should be treated, this is most effectively done with a fogger. 

Your Poodle must be washed with an effective flea shampoo and then receive flea protection. Be careful in regard to bathing your Poodle and applying protection. Many products will stop working if the dog is given a bath one week after treatment. For this reason, if you do choose topical flea protection, wait 2 weeks before giving your Poodle a bath.

To offer immediate relief to your Poodle, seek treatment at the veterinarian's office where a steroid shot can be given to decrease swelling and put a stop to the intense itching. Sores will be check for any infection. Vitamin E oil can be rubbed into un-infected sores to soothe the skin. A hypoallergenic oatmeal based canine shampoo can provide cooling relief as well.
Poodles and Contact Allergies

This type of allergy can be very hard on a Poodle, particularly when the dog is given a show cut such as the Continental, Modified Continental or English Saddle which exposes the Poodle's skin. A contact allergy is a reaction to any element that the Poodle comes into contact with. This can cause intense itching and sometimes while it may appear over the entire body, the puppy or dog may only chew at his paws since it is the most accessible area.

This can be something that the dog touches or something that is applied. The most common elements are:
  • Carpeting - When a Poodle lies down on the floor it can be the carpeting itself or carpet cleaner that causes a reaction.
  • Grooming products- This includes anything that is applied to the coat, whether or not it is rinsed out. Many Poodles are sensitive to the harsh ingredients found in inexpensive shampoo or conditioners.
  • Laundry detergent - Anything washed with the detergent can cause the allergy; this includes your clothing, pillow sheets, the covering on a dog's bed cushion, etc.
Signs - The most common signs of contact allergies are:
  • Itching - As a Poodle is touching something that irritates the skin, itching (sometimes quite severe) can occur
  • Sores - As the itching continues, a dog will instinctively scratch and this can cause sores to appear
  • Infection - Without treatment or elimination of the trigger, sores can quickly become infected
  • While many do not mention this, another sign of contact allergies is eye discharge and/or nasal discharge. One reason that this may be overlooked by many is due to the fact that eye discharge may be chalked up to normal discharge and nasal discharge is often missed when a puppy or dog licks their nose.
How to Help - Any open sores should be seen by your Poodle's veterinarian in case infection has settled in. A good dose of antibiotics will clear up the infections and, if needed, a storied shot can be a temporary relief from the itching while changes are made in your Poodle's environment. You can help by:
  • Stopping the use of carpet cleaner and switching to a water steam cleaner
  • Change your laundry detergent to a hypoallergenic one with no fragrance added
  • Use only hypoallergenic canine shampoo and conditioner
  • Be sure to wash and wipe the bathtub or sink very well before giving your Poodle a bath to rid the area of any human soap, shampoo or conditioner
  • Rub Vitamin E oil onto any dry, scaly skin (once any infection has cleared)
Poodles and Inhalant /Seasonal Allergies

This is the second most common dog allergy, with only food allergies being more prevalent with the Poodle breed. Poodles can be allergic to any of the inhaled allergens that we can. Most common is:
  • Tree pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Weed pollen
  • Mold/ mildew
  • Dust mites
  • 2nd hand cigarette smoke
Although humans and Poodles can be allergic to the same triggers, the symptoms are quite different. Symptoms include:
  • Itching - This is the #1 symptom and can be quite severe in many cases, leading to scratching, which can lead to sores and then ultimately infection of those sores
  • Eye and/or nasal discharge - As with contact allergies, these symptoms can be overlooked. Many Poodles quickly lick nasal discharge before an owner can notice it and eye discharge may occur intermittently and be chalked up to normal eye discharge.
  • Breathing difficulties, wheezing, coughing
In some cases, the trigger will be seasonal or a Poodle will only be exposed for a few weeks, therefore the puppy or dog will not show strong enough symptoms that call for treatment. However, in many cases, such as when a Poodle is allergic to molds, mildew, dust mites, cigarette smoke or sprayed air freshener, allergic reactions can be all year round. 

Treatment - If you suspect that your Poodle is allergic to 2nd hand smoke, it is very important to limit any family members to smoking outdoors or at the very least in a separate and closed off room in which smoke will not drift into the main area of the home. Also, when all triggers have been eliminated as culprits, it is usually then that an owner will realize it is something simple such as the air freshener that is sprayed into the home...an easy fix to eliminate.

When a Poodle is allergic to other elements such as pollen or molds, treatment will depend on the length of time that a Poodle is showing symptoms and involves 3 main elements:

Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications are usually given, these stop allergic reactions with most Poodles. If a puppy or dog has intense itching, steroids may be given. Antihistamines work with canines when given in conjunction with steroids, if so, in many cases steroid amounts can be decreased while antihistamines can be increased. Offering Fatty Acid supplements to your Poodle has been shown to work in many cases.

Shampoo Therapy: Washing your Poodle more often with hypoallergenic, oatmeal based canine shampoo can help simply because it washes away the microscopic triggers.

Hyposensitization: If your Poodle's veterinarian can identify the exact trigger, hyposensitization can begin, this is similar to what many humans do...it is the process of slowly and steadily allowing the body to become accustomed to the trigger, thus allowing the immune system to stop responding as if it is being attacked. This is a long process, often taking several years and does not guarantee complete immunity, only roughly 50% of dogs respond very well to this type of treatment. This is not recommend for older Poodles.
Poodles and Food Allergies

Food allergies can develop when a young puppy is weaned too early. However, they can also develop in any properly weaned puppy,

Signs - Food allergies can be quite baffling. Some dogs will show external symptoms, others will show internal symptoms and some Poodles will show both.  The allergy may be to an actual food; however in many cases it will be a reaction to an added element found in manufactured food including artificial coloring, artificial flavors or chemical preservatives.  A dog may have just 1 or many of these signs:
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Signs of having an upset stomach; wanting to rest alone, not wanting to be touch, not wanting to run around)
  • A bloated stomach
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss (and accompanying weakness)
  • A dull coat
  • Dry skin
  • Itching
  • Trouble breathing
How to Help a Poodle with Food Allergies The first thing that a Poodle needs when allergic to food (or an ingredient in a kibble) is for their stomach to have a good rest. It is suggested to feed a very bland diet which will not upset the stomach or trigger any reactions. At the same time, you want to make sure that your Poodle is receiving enough calories and nutrition.

A bland diet can consist of mushed up, boiled, boneless white chicken meat, plain white boiled rice and a sprinkle of salt. While this is a very healthy meal, after 2 days, do add a full & complete supplement to ensure that your Poodle has all the necessary vitamins.

You may then choose to add 1 new ingredient every 2 weeks. As soon as you see any signs of a reaction, you will know which ingredient is the culprit. Your other option is to offer home cooked meals. When polled, top reasons for not home cooking for pets included cost and time. However, it is less expensive to home cook, since many of the ingredients are those that are already purchased on a regular basis, and buying in bulk almost always saves money. In addition, many recipes can be cooked in bulk, refrigerating or freezing portions for weeks at at time.

If your Poodle suffered from dry skin or skin irritations from food allergies, while you are offering the bland diet to stop reactions, the vet may prescribe a topical ointment to help with itching and swelling.  Home treatment for dry skin with or without hair loss, includes quality rescue lotions to moisturize with clogging skin pores.  
You may find that the best time to apply creams is when your Poodle is about to go to sleep for the night. Laying a towel down on their doggie bed or sleeping area will protect any fabrics from becoming stained.

You will want to put a pause on any coat trimming while the skin recovers. In addition, you do not want to give too many bathes as it can dry out the skin, however offering a bath using oatmeal based shampoo will offer soothing, cooling relief. 

If itching is severe, your dog's veterinarian may suggest cortisone treatments or a steroid shot. Do keep in mind that dogs do not react or have side effects to steroid shots as humans do and giving a shot to provide fast relief to severe itching is commonly done and is considered safe.
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