Dog Skin Allergies

Dog Skin Allergies

Skin allergies can cause your dog to feel itchy, irritable and uncomfortable. Our Ambler vets explain how allergic reactions can lead to a range of symptoms - and what to do if you notice that your dog is experiencing red, itchy skin or other symptoms. 

Skin Allergies in Dogs

Skin allergies, also called allergic dermatitis, are the most common types of allergies in dogs. A wide range of irritants can affect your pooch, causing him or her to itch. The resulting discomfort and scratching can not only leave your pup miserable and scratching constantly. Repeated scratching can cause the skin to become irritated, inflamed and vulnerable to other infections. The good news is that if your dog is experiencing skin allergies, your vet can help!

What causes skin allergies in dogs?

These are the three most common causes of skin allergies in dogs:

Food Allergies

Like people, there are a variety of food allergies or sensitivities that can afflict dogs. Food allergies in dogs can lead to scratching at their ears or paws., or your pet may display gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or a combination of both.

That said, there’s an important distinction to be made between food sensitivities and food allergies. Food sensitivities (intolerances) are a gradual reaction to a specific ingredient such as milk, beef, wheat or chicken. Symptoms can include chronic foot or ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness and more. True food allergies trigger an immune response that can cause skin conditions such as hives and facial swelling.

Environmental Allergens

Environmental allergens including dust, mold and pollen can cause atopic allergic reactions (atopic dermatitis). Seasonal allergies also fall under this category and can be frustrating to diagnose and pinpoint, as your dog may only display symptoms during specific seasons or times of the year. Similar to food allergies, examine your dog’s ears and paws for indications of environmental allergies. Clues may also appear around the eyes, muzzle, underarms, wrists, ankles and between toes.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

For many dogs, a flea’s saliva will bring about an allergic reaction that can lead to flea allergy dermatitis. This condition can result in incredibly itchy skin - especially at the base of the tail. You may find their skin becomes red, scabbed and inflamed. If your dog has fleas, this is a problem that can be taken care of with a number of treatments. Regularly inspect your dog for flea dirt (feces). Look closely enough and you may even notice these small, flightless external parasites.

Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Dogs

Dog skin allergies can result in a variety of symptoms including:

  • Red, irritated or flakey skin
  • Scooting or rubbing on surfaces
  • Sores
  • Hair loss
  • Rubbing of face or ears
  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive licking
  • Chewing or biting the skin

When it comes to severe skin allergies in dogs, the issue is not only the discomfort and itching caused by the allergic reaction - there’s also the risk of a secondary infection developing. As your dog bites, scratches or licks at his skin in response to the itching, yeast and bacterial infections can invade through sores causing infections to develop.

Dog Skin Allergies - Treatment

Mild or severe skin allergies in dogs can be treated using a variety of approaches. It’s best to book an appointment with your vet to identify the culprit causing your dog’s symptoms and reactions. Following diagnosis, your vet will provide a custom treatment plan to help soothe your dog's skin condition and begin healing.

The cause and nature of your dog’s allergy, its location on the body and other factors will all determine the best treatment for your pet. Treatment for skin allergies in dogs can include injectable, non-steroidal medications, medicated baths, laser treatments and other options.

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 dog's condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Contact our Ambler veterinarians at Spring House Animal Hospital if your dog is experiencing an uncomfortable skin condition due to allergies. Our vets can help.

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