What are Latex Allergies?
When most people refer to a latex allergy, they are referring to an allergy to the primary ingredient in most latex products, the sap of the rubber plant. Latex can actually mean any polymer that is in a liquid state, either natural rubber latex derived from the rubber plant itself, or synthetic latex, which generally has an oil base. Your pet may develop an allergy to natural rubber latex, to synthetic latex, or to both. Latex is found in many items, including many common dog toys and medical equipment. If you suspect a latex allergy of either sort, it is valuable to confirm your suspicion as an allergic reaction during a medical procedure can have serious consequences.
Canine allergic reactions to latex can be caused by either natural rubber latex or synthetic latex and tend to get worse over time.
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Symptoms of Latex Allergies in Dogs
Skin reactions that are not located at the contact location are often concentrated around the face, groin, under the front legs, or between the toes. Natural latex allergies are particularly prone to causing hives in both humans and canines.
- Bald patches
- Blister-like lesions
- Chronic ear infections
- Chronically inflamed feet
- Face rubbing
- Head shaking
- Obsessive licking
- Paw biting
- Skin infections
- Skin rashes
- Ulcerations on skin
Your pet may have an allergy to natural rubber latex, to synthetic latex, or to both. Untreated allergies in dogs generally increase in intensity over time and can spread to include similar compounds, so a dog allergic to synthetic latex may later develop an additional allergy to natural rubber and vice versa.
Natural Rubber - Natural rubber products are created using the sap of the rubber plant (Hevea brasiliensis). Although anaphylactic shock is a relatively common reaction in humans, it seems to be less common in canines. Repeated exposures over time increase this risk.
Synthetic Latex - Synthetic latex products are usually derived from crude oil which is then combined with various chemicals. As brand names of synthetic latex vary slightly in chemical makeup your dog may occasionally be sensitive to one brand name and not others. Allergies to synthetic latex are more likely to be contact allergies than anything else.
Causes of Latex Allergies in Dogs
Sensitivities to latex can take many forms and may progress from mild symptoms to more severe symptoms. The most common reaction to see with early exposures to latex is an irritant contact dermatitis rather than a full blown allergy. The irritation and lesions that are found on the skin due to the chemical and physical abrasions look similar to a mild allergic reaction, but patch test results will come back negative for an immune response. Repeated exposure will often cause irritant contact dermatitis to develop into allergic contact dermatitis, which involves a response by the immune system and an amplification of the damage and irritation to the skin. In some cases, the allergy progresses to the point that any contact with the allergen, including the inhalation or ingestion of microscopic latex particles, will cause a dangerous flare-up of symptoms.
Diagnosis of Latex Allergies in Dogs
The symptoms that your dog will be showing due to either an allergic reaction or contact dermatitis will prompt your veterinarian to collect skin scrapings. This is done so that they can perform a microscopic evaluation of the skin cells, called cutaneous cytology, to search for problems like mites, yeast infections, or signs of disease. When the inflammation is localized the diagnosis can be fairly easy to spot, but with a true allergy, the dermal symptoms can occur on other parts of the body as well. A thorough history about your pet’s health and symptoms can be crucial to an accurate diagnosis. If your veterinarian suspects an environmental allergen, he could recommend a patch test, also known as an intradermal skin test. Miniscule amounts of the suspected antigens are injected under the skin in a particular pattern so that a localized reaction can be induced. Many doctors choose to try to diagnose which allergen is causing the reaction by eliminating suspected allergens from the environment first. This is a more time-consuming alternative, but also less invasive.
Treatment of Latex Allergies in Dogs
Antihistamines, although generally effective in humans, are only effective for twenty to thirty percent of dogs and tend to lose effectiveness in time. Hydrocortisone shampoos and salves may relieve the skin discomfort, but efforts should be made to keep your pet from licking off the preparation. If these antihistamines and salves are not successful in reducing the symptoms, then corticosteroid injections or oral tablets may be recommended. These medications are more powerful, and usually very effective in reducing the signs of allergy, but the side effects can be worrying. Short-term use of corticosteroid therapy results in mild symptoms, ranging from increased thirst to diarrhea. The long-term side-effects can contribute serious disorders such as diabetes and liver dysfunction, so monitoring of the blood chemistry levels may be required if needed over an extended period of time. The lowest effective dose should always be employed.
Immunotherapy is another option for animals that are plagued by unavoidable or severe allergic reactions, especially in reactions that present for at least four to six months of the year and are resistant to antihistamines. Immunotherapy injections for latex allergies have had mixed results compared to other allergies, however, advancements in sublingual immunotherapy have been made and recent trials are promising.
Recovery of Latex Allergies in Dogs
If your dog is allergic to latex avoiding latex and rubber products is an obvious step in relieving the symptoms. Less obvious sources of latex exposure can include things like freezer bags, some vaccines, toothbrushes, and mattresses. Using glass and metal containers for foods, toys, and grooming tools can help reduce exposure to the allergen. Natural latex has a tendency to be cross-reactive with certain foods, meaning that these foods can promote and intensify your pet’s reactions to latex products. It is commonly cross-reactive with bananas, avocados, chestnuts, and kiwi fruit. Other foods, such as apple, carrot, celery, papaya, potato, tomato, and melons, may occasionally exhibit cross-reactivity, as well.
Latex Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
can i use latex gloves to pet street dogs
i have been with street dogs for some time now and have been using plastic gloves but want to use something more soft like rubber or ...
so can i use latex gloves
If not what type of gloves should i use to pet street dogs
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For a few weeks now my bulldog has had this horrible rash almost blister like on her chin... I know bulldogs get acne and I have treated her for that before but this is way beyond acne! She had a few rubber balls that she is obsessive with and the rash around her whole mouth seems to be way worse! I'm not sure if she is allergic to latex or if it's a bacterial infection?
Without examining Leia I cannot say whether or not it is an allergy or an infection; but if there is a correlation between you buying the rubber balls and the rash, there is a chance the balls are the cause. Remove the balls from Leia and wash the area around her mouth thoroughly; if the rash is caused by the balls you should see an improvement over a few days, if there is no improvement you should see your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Our bulldog had that issue and we switched her food and water bowls to metal bowls and her cleared up.
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I bought my dog a latex toy and a few minutes later she would not eat or drink she has blisters on her face and the run and she keeps starching her face and licking her feet and the are swollen she drink a little and eats very little and she always acts like it itches
It does seem that B b has an allergy to latex; the first obvious step is to remove the toy from her to prevent further exposure. Reddening of the skin and blisters are normal at the site of contact (paws and mouth), the irritation to the mouth is probably the reason she won’t drink or eat due to discomfort. Oral antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream is the best form of initial treatment, although due to the lesions being on the face (I assume around the mouth) corticosteroid injections may be more beneficial so that she doesn’t like the hydrocortisone cream; corticosteroids can have undesirable side effects and would be used at your Veterinarian’s discretion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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