What are Metal Collar Allergies?
Dog collars are available in a variety of materials, such as leather, nylon, and cotton. Collars also come in the more pricey variety of metals. Metal dog collars can be nickel-plated, brass, chrome-plated, and silver. Many people purchase metal dog collars in various forms, namely choke collars, metal –pronged collars, and decorative collars with metal accents.
Many of the other types of collars that are not exclusively made of metal have metal clips and buckles to secure them tightly. Unfortunately, there are dogs that are allergic to metals and even if the dog collar is not completely made of metal, he may still have a reaction to the buckle or clip.
Metal allergies not only come from the collar but can also affect your dog if he eats or drinks from a metal bowl or is crated in a metal crate. Any metal product that your dog comes into contact with on a regular basis can cause a reaction. Hairless dogs are more prone to metal allergies, especially from metal dog collars and from being housed in metal cages.
Metal collar allergies in dogs are a result of a contact allergy from a variety of metal items, including metal or metal dog collars.
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Symptoms of Metal Collar Allergies in Dogs
Symptoms of metal collar allergies in dogs may vary in severity, depending on the amount of contact your dog has with the item or substance. Symptoms of this allergy include:
- Lesions on the neck area of the skin
- Skin irritation and redness
- Loss of fur
- Itchy, scaly skin
- Possible discharge or infected pustules or bumps
- Change in pigmentation of the skin
- Developing infections within the lesions
There are various forms of skin conditions that may look like a metal allergy. The veterinarian will rule out any differential diagnoses based on the dog’s history, previous exposure to metal, findings and the physical examinations, and patch testing. Other types of irritations of the skin that are similar include:
- Bacterial infections
- Parasitic conditions
- Fungal infections
- Irritant dermatitis
- Food allergy
- Inhalant allergy
Causes of Metal Collar Allergies in Dogs
Causes of metal collar allergies in dogs include the repeated contact with a metal item within the collar. Specific causes of this type of contact dermatitis include:
- The exposure of the skin to metal
- The skin of the animal overreacts to specific molecules within the metal
- The overproduction of antibodies in the dog’s system
Diagnosis of Metal Collar Allergies in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has an allergy to metal or is showing the above symptoms of contact dermatitis around his neck, remove the collar and replace it with a nylon or cotton type. You will need to make an appointment with your veterinarian so he can make a proper diagnosis and treat your dog’s affected skin.
More than likely, if your dog has a metal collar allergy he will exhibit symptoms around the neck area. However, if he also has symptoms on other parts of his body, the veterinarian may do a few tests just to be sure that he has a metal allergy. Your dog’s contact dermatitis may possibly be from another substance, and before a definitive diagnosis is made, your veterinarian will want to rule out other types of inflammation.
Test which the veterinarian may perform include a cytologic analysis along with a skin-scraping test. Cytologic analysis is the testing of individual or small amounts of cells to determine what is causing the abnormality. Skin-scraping and cytologic analysis are procedures where the veterinarian will remove a small sample of the irritation and send it off to the laboratory to determine the cause of the irritation or lesions.
The veterinarian may also perform a patch test, in which a substance is applied to very soft paper or cloth and then placed on the affected skin area. It is then covered for approximately two days with the allergens that are suspected on the patch. Once the patch is removed, the site is observed for three to five days to watch for any reactions upon the skin.
Treatment of Metal Collar Allergies in Dogs
Once your veterinarian has determined that your dog has a metal allergy, he will advise you to halt or severely limit your dog to any types of metals. Treatment may include:
Your veterinarian will choose a specific and mild detergent or shampoo to cleanse your dog and rinse him thoroughly. He may also recommend that you use this shampoo, which may be a prescription, at home until his skin heals.
The veterinarian may prescribe a medication, such as an antihistamine, to be applied to your dog topically. The medication will vary according to his symptoms; your dog may not require any medication once he is washed and rinsed and once the item causing the allergic reaction is stopped.
Recovery of Metal Collar Allergies in Dogs
In terms of recovery, your dog should recover from this contact allergy within a week, depending on how severe of a reaction he has. Once you take your dog home, the veterinarian will give you instructions on how to care for him. This may include bathing him in a recommended shampoo or mild detergent a few more times, applying any ointment given to you by the medical professional, and, of course, removal of the affected allergen.
If your dog has a metal collar allergy, he may also be allergic to other metal items, including the water and food bowls and a dog crate. The key to successfully managing this ailment is to remove or severely restrict the allergen (metal) within your companion’s environment.