Welsh Terriers are relatively healthy dogs, though they may be prone to allergic reactions; actually dogs in general tend to be highly susceptible to a variety of allergic reactions. And while people often get runny noses and watery eyes when suffering from allergies, dogs will develop skin problems. A dog suffering from allergies may display an unhealthy looking coat, either in texture or in length, he may obsessively scratch and chew at his itchy skin, or he may develop things called hot spots.
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There are quite a number of things that can cause allergic skin conditions in dogs. For instance, there are allergies provoked by inhalants, such as dust mites, various molds and pollens. A quick way to get a rough idea as to which inhalant is causing your dog's allergies is to note the time of year during which the allergies develop; if they are constant, occurring year round, then they are most likely due to mold or dusts, whereas if they are seasonal, they are most likely due to pollens. If you see your dog excessively scratching, biting and licking itself and especially chewing at its feet, its skin condition is probably due to inhalant-provoked allergies; in this case, itching will be particularly intense on the dog's groin, armpits, flanks and feet. Their skin may assume a greasy, thick appearance and can develop a strong, unpleasant odor. The excessive chewing may lead to hot spots (localized areas of raw skin), which are susceptible to infection.
Besides inhalant-induced allergic skin conditions, dogs can develop allergies to foods and flea bites. Apart from the typical skin issues mentioned above for inhalant allergies, food allergies may lead to head shaking, anal itching, licking of front paws, inflammation of the ears, rubbing of the face on carpets, diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, flatulence, asthma-like symptoms, and in some severe cases, seizures. Dogs are not necessarily born with food allergies, so your dog may tolerate a given food up to a certain point and then gradually develop an insensitivity to it. Common ingredients that induce food insensitivities include chicken, beef, milk, pork, fish, eggs, soy, corn, preservatives, wheat and lamb. To diagnose a food allergy, many vets recommend a "homemade diet test", in which you feed your dog homemade food that contains ingredients that he has never before tried. If his allergies improve, try to put him back on his old diet; if his allergies return, then go back to the homemade diet and replace one old ingredient at a time to see what specifically causes the allergic reaction.
Flea bites can also cause severe itching, which often lasts anywhere from five to seven days. Dogs that are not exposed regularly to fleas seem to be those especially prone to allergic reactions to bites; to diagnose allergies to flea bites (or more specifically, the proteins in the flea saliva), a skin test can be done. If your dog suffers from flea allergies, you should initiate a flea control program, but first talk to your vet to see which program is the healthiest and most appropriate for your Welshie.
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