Do you think your canine companion has an allergy? Find out what kind of allergies dogs can have and how you can treat them.
An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Most allergens are proteins from plants, insects, animals or foods.
Exposure to the allergen, usually on multiple occasions spanning months to years, sensitizes the immune system, and a subsequent exposure to the same or related allergen causes an over-reaction. Normally the immune response protects the dog against infection and disease, but with allergies, the immune response can actually be harmful to the body. Allergies may be thought of as an unnecessary normal immune response to a benign foreign substance.
The immune reactions involved in allergies are quite complex. Most reactions involve an antibody in the blood called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). In an allergic reaction the allergen protein molecules combine with IgE antibody molecules and attach to a type of cell called a mast cell. Mast cells are found in many tissues throughout the body. When the antigen and antibody react with mast cells, the mast cells break up and release potent chemicals such as histamines that cause local inflammation such as redness, swelling and itching. This inflammation causes the various signs associated with an allergic reaction.
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