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Learn : Dog Allergies

Pointers with Skin Allergies

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The Pointer encompasses several pointing breeds, notably the English Pointer, all known as gun dogs originally bred for hunting to literally point in the direction of the game.1 Hardworking, powerful, and noble dogs with natural hunting instincts. Pointers of a working lineage may be too strong willed and independent to transition to a family dog. However, when bred for alternate reasons, such as show, the pointer can make a very loyal, protective, and loving family dog.3 The Pointer is a high energy, medium sized dog, with a well-defined snout and sleek muscular body. Carrying themselves tall, the pointer breed has proved themselves to be highly intelligent, supremely loyal, and have worked themselves into the hearts of many families.1,3

Type of Coat

The Pointer coat is short, coming in a wide range of colors and patterns. Commonly recognized as mainly white with spots of black, lemon, or orange.3 Their coat is easy to maintain, short and dense, but still not ideal for colder weather conditions, and should have additional protection in extreme weather conditions.1,3 The Pointer will shed moderately, but weeking brushing can help manage this.1 

Susceptibility to Skin Allergies

Pointers are genetically predisposed to a variety of skin problems, including the development of skin allergies.3 Pointers often manifest seasonal allergies as patches of itchy dry skin, and as breed are highly susceptible to atopic dermatitis, the 2nd most common skin allergy in dogs.3,4 Pointer’s are susceptible to food intolerances, contact allergens, and inhalant allergies all of which can manifest as itchy skin patches and bumps. Their short coat is glossy and sharp, but overall does not offer them much protection from environmental allergens.5 

Allergy Locations

In Pointers, skin allergies can manifest anywhere on the body, but they are most commonly seen on the feet, belly, ears, and skin folds.3 Further, keep an eye out for where your Pointer is biting, licking, and scratching! Additionally, frequent ear infections could be another sign your dog is suffering from allergies.4 Atopic dermatitis is connected to skin allergies, and causes inflammation and dry flaky skin. Symptoms often worsen with certain seasons, and are commonly seen on the ears, around the eyes, and on joints.4 Symptoms of skin allergies in Pointers generally present themselves between ages 1 - 3, and can continue to worsen with age.1

Causes of Skin Allergies 

Pointers are more genetically prone to develop skin allergies and atopic dermatitis than other breeds of dogs.3 Pointers can develop skin allergies as a result of exposure to a variety of allergens. Dust, pollen, mold, fleas, shampoos, and food are common triggers of skin reactions in Pointers.5 Corn has been a documented ingredient to cause itching in Pointers.7 Further, nutrient imbalances, can lead to dry itchy skin and coat. Pointers require a higher fat to protein ratio than other breeds, and insufficient fatty acid content can lead to dry irritated skin.7

Treatment Options

If the allergen that is causing skin irritation for your Pointer is known, avoid it. Further, make sure to use hypoallergenic shampoos and minimize baths as they can further dry out your Pointer’s skin.7 Keep your house clean and free of dust, and keep an eye on what your Pointer gets into when outdoors, which should be often since they have such high exercise requirements.5

Skin allergies can also be treated with a variety of medicines including antihistamines, corticosteroids, and cyclosporine.4 If the itch spans a portion of the Pointer’s body, a cyclosporine spray may prove useful as an itch remedy.4 Furthermore, sometimes injections are employed as allergen immunotherapy, to desensitize the Pointer to known irritants.4 Your Pointer should also keep their flea and tick remedy current, to eliminate flea and tick associated allergies and issues.3 

Food intolerances or malnutrition may also be to blame for your Pointer’s skin allergies. Pointers are muscular dogs, and have a higher fat to protein ratio requirement, so it is imperative they are getting enough key fatty acids like omega-3s to keep their health and skin optimum.7 Pointers are high energy active dogs, so ensuring a balanced diet, that is appropriate for their life stage is essential. It can be hard to identify the exact source of your Pointer’s allergies, sometimes serological or intradermal allergy testing is employed, but the results can be finicky.4 If food is the suspected culprit of your Pointer’s discomfort, an elimination diet of at least 8 weeks may be necessary to determine the irritant.5 A true food allergy is a rare occurrence in dogs, and more often dogs suffer from food intolerances, nonetheless, if a reaction to food is discovered it should be avoided. 

Key Ingredients to Fight Allergies

The Pointer breed as a whole is very active and a proper diet is essential for maintenance of their health. It has been recognized that corn, wheat, and soy can cause skin allergies alongside other adverse reactions, including digestive issues, in the Pointer breed.7,5 Some owners of Pointers may choose to eliminate these ingredients, without testing, altogether if their Pointer suffers from skin allergies. A decision like this must be made with caution because these same ingredients can be valuable sources of essential nutrients, so it is imperative that the Pointer’s diet remains wholesome. Omega-3 fatty acids, often provided as fish oil, are important to the Pointer’s diet and benefit the overall health of their skin and coat.6 Other key ingredients include high-quality protein, vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins.6 Probiotics are also recommended in dog food, for ease of digestion, but also to fight allergies! The microbiome and allergies is a current area of research. Food proteins, can often be the source of food allergies in dogs, and Pointer’s being so active have a high requirement for protein.5 Unfortunately, pet food isn’t well regulated and even when food proteins aren’t listed on the label, contamination is common and can trigger allergies. 

Check out these recommended dietary alterations for common skin conditions:

Condition

Coat Color Changes

Dietary Needs and Adjustments

Increase amino acids which can be found in  protein (>75 grams per 1000 calories); use our calculator to convert a label percentage to the caloric basis (grams per 1000 calories)

Concurrent GI Signs

Avoid foods with tryptamine and histamine such as dairy or fermented vegetables and meats (yes, this includes bacon); try a simple ingredient food trial

Chronic Itching and Dermatitis

Fortify the diet with Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Zinc, and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil; add a probiotic; try a simple ingredient food trial

Dull Coat and Scaling

Adjust EPA and DHA levels in the diet (added fish oil being the most common way); try a food that has added zinc

Dandruff and Crustiness

Add Zinc and Vitamin A levels

How Fresh Food Can Help

Fresh food might be the safest way to monitor your Pointer’s diet, and guarantee the ingredients and quality they’re consuming. A well prepared fresh food diet, can ensure nutritional adequacy, while using ingredients you recognize. Furthermore, many dogs tend to be more excited about fresh food diets, as compared to commercial products, which is positive to their overall wellbeing. Additionally, fresh food diets, on top of providing key nutrients, like essential fatty acids, tend to be more digestible and more efficiently utilize the nutrient content. This can be beneficial to Pointer’s with skin allergies by ensuring nutritional adequacy. Furthermore, if a food sensitivity is discovered it is easier to eliminate the culprit on a fresh food diet, when the ingredients are transparent. 

About Nom Nom

If you’re considering trying a fresh food diet for your Pointer, but don’t want to make it yourself Nom Nom might be your solution. All recipes are held to the highest quality regulations, produced in small batches, delivered to your door, and portioned with your Pointer’s age and weight in mind. Furthermore, the addition of the Nutrient Mix ensures that all recipes, regardless of ingredient variation, are nutritionally balanced for optimal health. The care-grade guarantee at Nom Nom promises if you don’t see the difference a fresh diet makes for your pet after 30 days, we’ll buy your pet’s next diet. Nom Nom offers a variety of recipe choices, great for a picky eater, and likewise great for a dog sensitive to certain ingredients or protein types. Veterinary-formulated recipes, with simple ingredients, free of contaminants, may just be what your Pointer suffering from skin allergies needs. 

  1. Pointer. American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/pointer/ (2017).
  2. Jeff, W. Pointer. Prestige Animal Hospital https://www.prestigeanimalhospital.com/services/dogs/breeds/pointer (2016).
  3. Atopic Dermatitis Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments | petMD. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/skin/c_dg_atopic_dermatitis.
  4. Breed Info. Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin | Veterinarians in Tualatin, OR https://evcot.com/client-resources/breed-info/german-longhaired-pointer/.
  5. Olivry, T., Mueller, R. S. & Prélaud, P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (1): duration of elimination diets. BMC Vet. Res. 11, 225 (2015).
  6. Diets and the Dermis: Nutritional Considerations in Dermatology | Today’s Veterinary Practice. Today’s Veterinary Practice https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/acvn-nutrition-notesdiets-dermis-nutritional-considerations-dermatology/ (2017).

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