Itchiness, frequent scratching, irritability and overall discomfort can all be signs that your dog is experiencing a skin allergy. Our Glendale vets explain how allergic reactions can lead to these symptoms and more - and what to do if you spot red, itchy skin on your dog.
What causes skin allergies in dogs?
Also referred to as allergic dermatitis, skin allergies are the most common types of allergies in dogs. Many allergens and potential irritants can affect your four-legged friend, causing him or her to itch. This can result in mild to severe discomfort.
Repeated scratching may cause the skin to become excessively inflamed and irritated, which leaves it vulnerable to infection. However, if your dog is experiencing skin allergies, your vet will be able to help.
Here are the three most common causes of skin allergies in dogs:
Common Food Allergies
Similar to people, dogs can be affected by many food allergies or sensitivities. A dog's food allergy may leave them scratching at their ears or paws, or your pet may display gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, or a combination of both.
Note that there's an important distinction to be made between food sensitivities and food allergies. Food sensitivities (intolerances) trigger gradual reactions to specific ingredients, such as milk, beef, chicken, or wheat. Symptoms may include chronic ear or foot infections, itchiness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In contrast, true food allergies result in an immune response that can cause skin condition such as facial swelling and hives.
Environmental Allergens That Can Effect Your Dog
Atopic allergic reactions (atopic dermatitis) can be caused by pollen, dust, and mold. Seasonal allergies are also covered here and can be frustrating to identify and diagnose, as your dog may only display symptoms during specific seasons or times of the year.
Similar to how you'd suss out the cause of a food allergy, examine your dog's ears and paws for indications of environmental allergies. Signs may also appear around the eyes, muzzle, wrists, underarms, ankles, and between toes.
Dog Flea Allergy Dermatitis
A flea's saliva can bring about an allergy reaction in many dogs. These allergic reactions can lead to flea allergy dermatitis. This condition can cause the skin to become incredibly itchy, especially at the base of the tail. You may find your dog's skin becomes red, scabbed, and inflamed. If your dog has fleas, your vet will have numerous treatment options at their disposal.
Regularly check your dog for flea dirt (feces). Look closely, enough, and you may even notice these small, flightless external parasites.
Signs & 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
- Hair loss
- Rubbing of face or ears
- Excessive scratching
- Excessive licking
- Chewing or biting the skin
Severe skin allergies in dogs not only cause discomfort and itching, dogs with severe skin allergies also face 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.
How to Treat Skin Allergies in Dogs
In dogs, both mild and severe skin allergies can be treated using a variety of approaches. Schedule an appointment with your vet for diagnosis and to identify the problematic allergen causing your dog’s symptoms and reactions.
At Limehouse Veterinary Clinic, we offer many alternative diagnostic and treatment methods for various conditions, including acupuncture to encourage increased circulation and reduce allergic dermatitis.
Following a diagnosis of dog skin allergies, your vet will provide a custom treatment plan to help soothe the condition and help your dog to start 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 allergies in a dog's skin 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.