Many people are allergic to dogs, but can dogs themselves have allergies, too? It is a common scenario to see a person with a dog allergy suffering from watery, itchy, eyes but what happens when the dog has the itchy, watery, eyes?
Indeed, it turns out dogs get allergies like we do, and to many of the same things that people are allergic to. Certain foods, dust, pollens, molds and insect bites are common culprits. An allergy episode is an inappropriate immune system reaction to a substance in your dog's environment or diet.
Can Dogs Get Allergies in Their Eyes?
When an allergic reaction affects the eyes, a tendency for them to water, become red, and itch can be the result, just as in humans. It is irritating for dogs and they may be seen to rub their eyes, causing more inflammation and secondary infections as a result. Because dogs love being outside and love to eat, it is not commonly suspected that food or environmental factors such as pollen would make them sick, but they can. Dogs suffer from allergies to their diet and seasonal influences more frequently than you would think.
Does My Dog Have Eye Allergies?
A dog experiencing eye allergies may try to scratch their eyes or surrounding skin by rubbing on furniture or scratching with their paws to relieve the itching. They may also have clear, watery ocular discharge, which may be accompanied by inflammation of the eye or associated tissues. They may squint or sneeze. Colored discharge is indicative of an eye infection, which may develop secondarily but is not a symptom of the sensitivity itself. The eye may appear red from the irritation or the allergy.
Allergens that affect the eyes in dogs include dietary components such as food additives, preservatives or carbohydrate content, dust, and insect bites. Medications and grooming products can trigger allergic reactions that affect the eye. Inhaled allergens from pollen or mold are especially common and may be experienced seasonally just as in their human counterparts.
Your veterinarian will examine a dog with watery, irritated, eyes to determine the cause. Other conditions such as a foreign object in the eye, dry eye, blocked tear ducts, or cherry eye may account for discharge and irritation, and need to be ruled out before a determination of allergies in the eye is made. Your veterinarian can also test for allergies by performing a histamine reaction test or looking for antibodies in a blood sample.
Learn more about seasonal allergies in dogs here.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Eye Allergy?
Most allergy reactions, especially those involving your dog’s eyes, will be treated with antihistamines recommended by your veterinarian. Antihistamines block the immune system’s histamine reaction to the allergen, thereby reducing the symptoms. Steroids may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation, and topical eye ointments to reduce discomfort may be useful in stemming an allergy attack.
If the source of the sensitivity can be determined, avoiding or reducing exposure may be the most effective way to prevent it. If a dietary source is suspected, changing your dog's diet to eliminate carbohydrates or chemical preservatives and additives may eliminate the allergy. Vacuuming your home, cleaning bedding, and removing weeds and debris from your yard that could be causing allergen exposure will help reduce allergy symptoms.
In addition, you can wash your dog's eyes with distilled water or saline solution and humidify the air to help eye allergy symptoms. If parasites such as fleas are a contributing factor to allergies, eliminating them from your dog's environment and treating your dog for fleas is essential to their health and comfort. Removing hair from around your dog's eyes that can trap dust and pollen may also be effective.
There are many supplements available to support immune system functioning in your dog which may reduce allergic symptoms. A holistic veterinary practitioner can advise you. A combination of changes to the environment, medications, and natural treatments may be most successful for reducing allergy symptoms in the eye.