Skin allergies in dogs can cause pooches to become uncomfortable, itchy and irritable. Our vets in the Pacific Northwest offer insight into how allergic reactions can appear — and what you should do if you notice redness, itching or other signs.
Skin Allergies in Dogs
Also known as allergic dermatitis, skin allergies are the most common types of allergies in dogs. Any number of irritants may be causing a reaction in your canine companion, causing him or her to itch, scratch and develop generally uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, our Everrett vets can offer some advice and insight on what to do.
What causes skin allergies in dogs?
Here are the three most common causes of skin allergies in dogs:
Environmental allergens such as dust, mold and pollen can cause atopic allergic reactions (atopic dermatitis). Another culprit may be seasonal allergies — also a frustrating problem since they might only affect your dog during certain times or seasons of the year.
Check your dog’s paws and ears for indications that they may be suffering from environmental allergies. Also take a quick look on the muzzle, and around the eyes, underarms, wrists and between toes.
Does your pet have itchy skin? This may be a symptom of food sensitivities of allergies. If they scratch at their ears or paws, and/or have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or a combination of both, food allergies may be the cause.
Note that it’s imperative to make the distinction between food sensitivities (intolerance) and food allergies. With food sensitivities, pets experience a gradual reaction to a specific ingredient such as wheat, beef, milk or chicken. This is in contrast to food allergies.
Numerous symptoms may appear, from itchiness and chronic ear or foot infections to diarrhea and vomiting. True food allergies will trigger an immune response, which may lead to skin conditions such as hives or facial swelling.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
In some dogs, a flea’s saliva will trigger an allergic reaction, resulting in flea allergy dermatitis. This can lead to extreme itchiness — especially at the base of the tail. Their skin may also become inflamed, scabbed and red. Other symptoms of fleas include flea dirt (feces) and you may be able to see the fleas themselves.
Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Dogs
As mentioned above, skin allergies can cause a range of symptoms. These can include:
- Excessive scratching
- Excessive licking
- Rubbing of ears or face
- Biting or chewing the skin
- Rubbing or scooting on surfaces
- Red, irritated or flakey skin
- Hair loss
With severe skin allergies in dogs, you’re not only dealing with the discomfort and itching of the allergic reaction, but the risk of secondary infection. As your dog scratches, licks and bites at his skin in reaction to the itching, there’s a possibility that yeast and bacterial infection can enter through sores. These may require treatment.
How to Treat Skin Allergies in Dogs
The best way to find out what’s irritating your dog’s system and causing his symptoms is to schedule an appointment with your Everrett vet, who can perform a comprehensive physical exam and check the coat and skin.
Treatment will vary depending on the cause and nature of your dog’s allergy, its location on the body and other factors. We may be able to diagnose the issue and provide a treatment plan to help your dog heal. Treatment options may include medicated baths, non-steroidal allergy medications and others.
Whether your dog’s skin condition is due to an allergy, disease or another cause, we can help identify the trigger and an effective treatment to help your pet feel more comfortable again — and get him back to enjoying cuddle time.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.