Miniature Schnauzers may be more prone than other dog breeds to allergies and allergic skin conditions. Allergies in Mini Schnauzers are diagnosed by carefully reviewing diet, environment, medical history and exercise. A veterinarian can prescribe treatment upon completing a medical exam, tests and considering the breed.
Miniature Schnauzers, along with their cousins the Standard and Giant Schnauzers, are considered to be among the most healthy of dog breeds. Miniature Schnauzers are historically free of many genetic problems common among other purebred dogs. Every breed of dog has certain health problems that recur in generation after generation, however. Miniature Schnauzers do have a tendency toward allergies and allergic skin conditions.
Skin conditions may be a problem with a Miniature Schnauzer. Many Mini Schnauzers have no skin problems or allergies, but some have sensitivities that cause scratching, biting or excessive licking. Mini Schnauzers that lick and scratch obsessively can create skin sores that become infected and painful.
Dog allergies are divided into three types: skin allergies, food allergies and environmental allergies.
Miniature Schnauzer skin disorders are widely varied. Dogs that spend time outdoors may be allergic to grass and certain plants; dogs that spend time indoors may be allergic to detergents or specific fabrics. Allergic skin disorders cause extreme discomfort and can cause a dog to scratch and bite excessively. Miniature Schnauzers often suffer from flea bite allergies, which is a reaction to protein in flea saliva, not to the flea. If a Mini Schnauzer is sensitised to flea bites, it will experience intense itching. Just one flea bite in a sensitised Schnauzer will cause intense and long-lasting itching. Food allergies can also cause skin irritation, as well as stomach upset, diarrhoea and vomiting. Environmental allergies create breathing difficulties, watery or oozing eyes, running nose and other symptoms. Environmental allergies that are inhaled can cause allergic reactions similar to those in humans. Pollen, trees, dust mites, other animals and mould can trigger environmental allergies in Miniature Schnauzers.
Skin irritation, discolouration, raw patches and itching are the most common symptoms of any one of the three types of allergies. If a Mini Schnauzer has localised itching, the allergy is generally in response to something the dog has touched. If the dog has itching over its entire body, the allergy is more likely in response to food. Miniature Schnauzers that chew on their feet, rub their faces or scratch their ears may be having an allergic reaction. A dog that suffers from allergies can experience hair loss or skin abrasions. Miniature Schnauzers seem to be prone to an allergic reaction that appears as a "hot spot" in the neck area. A "hot spot" is a patch of raw skin that feels tender and may ooze.
Sometimes the cause of an allergic reaction can be determined by the timing of the itching and irritation. If the allergy seems to be year round, it might be dust or mould. If it is seasonal, pollen is the likely cause. Food allergies cause irritation on the feet or muzzle, diarrhoea and vomiting. Soy, corn, beef, dairy products, wheat and fish often cause allergic reactions in Miniature Schnauzers.
Dogs of all breeds can suffer from allergies. Once a dog is sensitised to a particular allergen, the effects are usually there for the dog's lifetime. Rarely is an allergy "cured." Instead, the allergen can be removed or avoided. Treatments can relieve the symptoms of an allergy, but will not cure it. Owners and breeders of Miniature Schnauzers have documented that the breed may be more prone to allergies than other breeds.
Allergies cannot be prevented, although avoiding early or intense exposure to typical allergens can lessen the probability of developing an allergic reaction.
Miniature Schnauzers suffering from allergic reactions with itch and skin irritation may be soothed by cool baths and shampoos containing aloe vera, oatmeal or eucalyptus. There are some herbal shampoos and skin conditioners that may soothe an allergy attack and irritated skin. It will be helpful to keep a Miniature Schnauzer's feet and ears dry and dirt free. Eyes that are watery or oozing from allergic reaction can be cleaned with a boric acid ophthalmic solution or moisturising Visine drops.
Oral antibiotics, antibiotic ointments and other prescription medications can treat swelling or severe skin irritations. A veterinarian can evaluate a Miniature Schnauzer's allergy problem and prescribe treatment that will alleviate itching, discomfort and the anxiety that they cause a Miniature Schnauzer.
Although Miniature Schnauzers may be more prone to allergies than other dog breeds, they make a great companion for humans who suffer from allergies to dogs. Miniature Schnauzers shed very little and produce minimal skin dander. They are considered hypoallergenic, or low-allergen.