Dog Skin Allergies: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Skin allergies in dogs can cause your pooch to become itchy, irritable and uncomfortable. Our Waxhaw vets give some insight into how allergic reactions can lead to symptoms - and what to do if you notice redness, itching or other symptoms. 


Skin Allergies in Dogs

Also known as allergic dermatitis, skin allergies 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 in a poor mood, but the constant scratching can cause the skin to become irritated, inflamed and vulnerable to other infections.

Fortunately, our Waxhaw vets can offer some insight and advice on what concerned pup parents should do about dogs with allergies.

Skin allergies in dogs, Providence Animal Hospital, Waxhaw Vets

What causes skin allergies in dogs?

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

Food Allergies

Food allergies or sensitivities can afflict dogs, causing them to scratch at their ears or paws. He or she may also display gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or a combination of both.

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

In some 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

As mentioned above, skin allergies may cause a range of symptoms that can potentially include:

  • 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 risk of secondary infection. As your dog bites, scratches or licks at his skin in response to the itching, yeast and bacterial infections can invade through sores. These may also require treatment.

How To Treat Skin Allergies in Dogs

It’s best to book an appointment with your Waxhaw vet to identify the culprit causing your dog’s symptoms and reactions. With our in-house lab and diagnostic services, we can offer an accurate and effective diagnosis of your pet’s condition.

Our in-house pharmacy is stocked with a range of medications and prescription diets, so we’ll have easy access to any medications your pet may need while in our care. We’re also able to fill and refill your pet’s prescriptions during your visit.

Following diagnosis, we can provide a custom treatment plan to help your dog heal. The cause and nature of your dog’s allergy, its location on the body and other factors will determine treatment.

This treatment may include injectable, non-steroidal medications, medicated baths, laser treatments and other options.

Whether an allergy, disease or something else has caused your dog’s skin allergy, we can identify the cause and an effective treatment, and help your pet feel more comfortable - and get you back to snuggling.

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.

Do you suspect your dog has a skin allergy? Our vets can effectively treat many conditions and illnesses. Contact our Waxhaw vets today to book an appointment for your pet. 

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