The long, silky ears of the Hungarian Vizsla are just one of its many beautiful features; however, if you find your four-legged friend constantly shaking and scratching them, it’s usually a sign of some allergy. So, what can Vizslas be allergic to?
Hungarian Vizslas are prone to two specific allergies: atopy and food allergies. Symptoms of these two conditions usually include itching, scratching, and inflammation of the skin. Although manageable, atopy cannot be cured while food allergies are curable through a process of careful elimination.
Dogs are our best friends and most loyal companions, so how worried should you be if it turns out your Vizsla suffers from allergies, and what can you do about it?
What are Vizslas allergic to?
Vizslas are prone to atopy and food allergies. Both of these allergies are skin allergies, which form the most common type of allergy in dogs.
Atopy, also known as allergic dermatitis, is often hereditary and is the second most common skin allergy in dogs. The Vizsla is one of the breeds that are more prone to develop atopy. Other breeds include Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. The condition is caused by mold, dust, dust mites, pollen, and other environmental allergens.
As most of these allergens are airborne, the dog naturally inhales them, which causes its immune system to overreact. It is this overreaction that eventually causes your Vizslas to develop either an ear infection or itchy skin leading to a vicious circle of constant scratching, licking, and chewing.
Most Vizslas show symptoms of atopy between one and three years old, and more often than not, dogs suffering from this condition will also develop a food allergy.
A food allergy is one of the five most common allergies in dogs. As mentioned above, some dogs suffering from atopy can also develop an allergy to certain foods. However, if your Vizslas itching starts at an age younger than 6 months or older than 6 years, its allergy is most probably unrelated to atopy.
When digesting food that the dog is allergic to, its immune system starts to overreact in the same way as with atopy. The dog’s immune system starts to produce antibodies against some part of the food. These antibodies then react with the antigens, which leads to an allergic skin reaction.
The most common food allergens for most dogs are beef, wheat, and dairy, and your Vizsla can develop an allergy to these proteins or other components at any age.
What are the symptoms of allergies in Vizslas?
If you suspect that your Vizsla is suffering from an allergy, there are various symptoms to look out for. Let’s pack them out:
|Itchy skin/ears before the age of 3||Itchy skin near the ears, paws, rear end, or stomach|
|Itching improves when put on steroids||Itchy red bumps on skin 6 to 24 hours after eating|
|Licking and chewing of front paws||Licking, biting, and scratching of the ears, paws, rear end, or stomach|
|Lesions around eyes, mouth, armpits, groin, belly, or rectum||Swollen face|
|Red, crusty skin||Chronic ear or paw infections|
|Spending most of the day indoors||Gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and gas|
|A yeasty smell|
|Red inner-ears or chronic ear infections|
Even if your Vizsla does display a number of the above symptoms, it is not to say that he necessarily suffers from atopy or food allergies. It can be a completely different condition like one of the following:
- Fleas or Flea Allergy Dermatitis
- Mange Mites
- Yeast or bacterial infection
- Contact allergy
Your vet will be able to make an informed decision after a thorough medical examination, which will probably involve skin scrapings and blood tests. Alternatively, he might refer your Vizsla to a dermatologist for skin allergy testing.
How do I treat my Vizslas’ allergies?
There is no cure for atopy; however, with the help of your vet and some simple changes you can make at home and in your and your Vizsla’s daily routine, it is completely manageable. Manageable in the sense that your dog will have fewer and less intense flare-ups.
According to Dr. Robert Kennis, a professor of veterinary dermatology, ‘Allergy shots (ASIT) help about 75 percent of dogs, but these dogs may need additional therapy during allergy season and may still get periodic infections.’ Some additional recommendations are the following:
- Wipe your dog’s paws and skin whenever he comes inside. Regular wiping will remove many irritants he brought from outside.
- During allergy season, be sure to bathe your Vizsla at least twice a week. A medicated shampoo will reduce itching and soothe your dog’s skin.
- Give your dog Omega Fatty Acid supplements. These supplements will improve your dog’s skin barrier and reduce inflammation.
- Antigen-injections or liquid drops.
- Never allow your Vizsla to stick its head out of a window when you’re driving, as it will expose him to the inhalation of various pollens from outside.
- Ask your vet for a non-sedating antihistamine, which will help with reducing the itching.
- Wash bedding and carpets frequently.
- Vacuum regularly to remove dust and dust mites.
- Avoid aerosol sprays and the burning of incense.
Food allergy treatment
A food allergy is curable, but it involves a lengthy and exhausting process of elimination. As previously mentioned, most dogs develop allergies to beef, wheat, and dairy. These three ingredients, however, are found in most brands of top-quality dog food.
You will need to, with the help of your veterinarian, put your Vizsla on a strict 12-week hypoallergenic diet, which might involve either a specific brand of top-quality dog food or a carefully worked out homemade diet.
Additionally to the changes in your Vizsla’s diet, the vet will also probably describe one or all of the following:
- Medicated baths.
- Ear cleaners and ear medication.
- Non-sedating antihistamines will help in reducing the itching.
Your Vizsla’s constant scratching, licking, and biting might very well turn out to be atopy or a food allergy. Best to take him to the vet as soon as possible so that you can give your loyal companion the best possible life he so rightly deserves.