As any experienced Jack Russell owner knows, Jack Russell allergies can be common in Jack Russells of all ages. Almost everything can trigger the allergic symptoms, which can be difficult to deal with on both the parts of the owner and the pet. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that allergic episodes can be kept to a minimum.
Know the Causes
It is imperative to know of the underlying causes behind the allergy. For allergies in Jack Russells, the causes can be classified into four categories.
- Contact allergies are the least common but the most treatable of the four types of Jack Russell allergies. Usually, it occurs when the dog’s skin comes into contact with the allergen, which can be a plant, an insect or a synthetic substance.
Symptoms in contact allergies include irritated, itchy and discoloured skin with a strong odour emanating from the area. In many dogs, loss of hair can be the result of constant scratching and biting. Relief can often be provided with the removal of the allergen in the skin.
- Food allergies result from the build-up of allergens in the dog’s system until such time that the immune system cannot keep up with the demands placed upon it. In most cases, the animal proteins in the dog food cause the allergic reactions with other ingested substances like leftovers, vitamins and even plants also contributing to Jack Russell allergies.
When the diet is the suspect in the allergies, we recommend providing for a hypoallergenic diet for 8 to 12 weeks to your dog. In this way, the allergen in the system can be flushed out. Also, it is necessary to try out different diets, closely observe the reactions to each diet and then choose the diet with the least allergic reactions.
Symptoms in food allergies include skin itching, respiratory distress and digestive disorders. We suggest consulting with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying causes and, thus, avoid complications.
- Inhalant allergy in dogs is similar to hay fever in humans. Pollens, moulds, mildew, dust mites and other airborne materials are the culprits in these types of allergies, which often happen during the spring and fall seasons.
The symptoms range from severe itching on the feet, groin and ears to hairless spots on the coat from the constant biting of the skin. The symptoms of inhalant Jack Russell allergies can be avoided by limiting the time spent outdoors during the allergy season and in using an air filter indoors.
- Flea allergies are very common in dogs. Take note that your pet is not allergic to the fleas per se but to the proteins in the saliva secreted when the fleas bite on the skin. Also, keep in mind that it only takes one flea for a Jack Russell to suffer from flea allergies for days on end.
Prevention of flea allergies comes in the form of frequent baths, applications of prescription anti-flea products, and provision of pills to attack fleas from the inside, so to speak. A veterinarian’s prescription is often necessary to secure the right kind of formulation in anti-flea products.
You will observe that in almost all cases of Jack Russell allergies, the expert medical opinion of a veterinarian is preferred. This way, the best possible treatment or combination of treatments can be applied.
Know the Diagnostic Tests
Aside from the obvious symptoms on the Jack Russell’s coat and skin, allergies can also be diagnosed via laboratory tests and tools. First, blood tests are used in the analysis of the quantities of certain chemicals in the bloodstream. Second, intradermal tests are also administered to determine the specific allergen.
Know the Treatments
Once the causes have been determined, treatment can proceed. The vet will recommend one or two of the following available treatments for Jack Russell allergies:
- Steroids suppress the immune system, thus, leading to less severe symptoms. Side effects like weight gain, increased aggression and frequent urination can be observed.
- Immunotherapy involves the weekly injections of vaccines containing small amounts of the allergen. The rationale is gradual desensitization to the source of the allergic episodes.
- Antihistamines block the chemicals secreted by the immune system during an allergic episode, the chemical known as histamines. Itching and inflammation are significantly reduced but side effects like sedation can affect quality of life.
Indeed, Jack Russell allergies can be treated. Just work with the vet to find ways for prevention and it is possible for your dog to live allergy-free most of the time.