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Dog Skin Allergies

Dogs are capable of sniffing out every ingredient found on pizza. Their scent receptors are 100,000 times better than humans. But that’s not all. A third of their brains identify and detect odors. Yet, this ability comes with a price—allergies!

Imagine the discomfort, the intense scratching, and eventual hair fall?

And that begs the question

What is an allergy?

An allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to foreign substances. These could be anything; a diet change, grass saps, pollens, flea bites, etc.

Symptoms of Dog Skin Allergies

Food allergies

New pet owners hardly differentiate between food allergies and food sensitivities. But there is a difference:

Food allergies vs. food sensitivities

Food allergies occur when the immune system feels threatened by proteins in a diet. Symptoms include itching, facial swelling, diarrhea, and vomiting.

However, food sensitivities happen when the gut fails to react to certain foods. Symptoms include poor coat condition, vomiting, irritation, and diarrhoea.

Environmental allergies

It’s common for breeds to find solace in hidden spots. But, they risk exposure to environmental allergens. What’s more, they inhale or absorb the allergens through their skin.

Symptoms include red skin, recurring ear infections, and loss of fur on paws, lower legs, ears, and faces.

Flea allergy dermatitis

Some licking and itching are habitual. But when hair falls and skin becomes red, that’s an allergy.

Flea allergy dermatitis is common among dogs. When the flea saliva (the allergen) touches the skin, dogs scratch their tail’s bases.

Diagnosing and Treatment of Skin Allergies in Dogs

Determining the cause behind allergies exceeds flea hunts and assumptions. The reality is, many diseases have symptoms like allergies. Sigh of relief; vets conduct tests before dismissing other possibilities.

Skin and blood testing give inaccurate results for food allergies. Fortunately, the two are efficient for testing environmental and flea allergies.

Food Allergies

For about 8-12 weeks, your dog undergoes an elimination diet. Usually, the food trial consists of a novel protein diet. The diet aims to squash allergens found in the food.

Novel Protein Diets (a new protein that your dog is alien to)

The novel protein consists of:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins & minerals
  • Rabbit, kangaroo, duck, etc.(uncommon protein sources)

Seeking insight into suitable ingredients and diets is vital. For instance: Some pet owners prefer special veterinarian diets to over-the-counter food. Why is that? Special veterinarian diets consider allergic pets. Besides, some limited diets leave the lab already contaminated.

It’s important to feed your dog exact ingredients as the food trial. Also, inform the rest of your household about the specified diet. You wouldn’t want to sabotage the trial, right?

Note, the test doesn’t stop itching. You can use anti-itch such as Cytopoint, Apoquel, or Steroids to ease the itching as you await the food trial results

Environmental Allergies

Pets start reacting to allergies as early as a year old. The most common signs are:

  • Licking paws
  • Hair loss
  • Scratching
  • Biting or chewing
  • Ear infections

To determine the allergen-causing reactions, a certified veterinary dermatologist performs a skin test.

How it works:

  • Your dog undergoes mild sedation, allowing the vet to cut a small area of the fur.
  • The certified vet will inject allergens into the clipped area after every 15 minutes.
  • When the clipped area becomes red, the allergen injected is liable for the reaction.

Allergies are incurable. But, you can enhance your dog’s immunity with vaccines. Although expensive, they are efficient.

Vaccines familiarize the immune system with allergens causing reactions. Preferably, avoid the allergen triggering the response.

Fleas Dermatitis Allergies

Itching, hair loss in the tail, and rare leg region confirm flea dermatitis allergy. By using flea control products, you can remedy the situation.

The flea control products are either squeezed onto the skin or administered orally. Insect growth regulators are also available. They are effective while using in environments with excess flea infestations

Here are examples:

Liquid control products

  • Advantage
  • Revolution
  • Vectra

Oral control products

  • Simparica
  • NexGard
  • Comfortis.

Corticosteroids (cortisone or steroid) help to control abrupt episodes of flea dermatitis allergy. Since steroids have many side effects, it’s only best used for a short-term basis.

Symptomatic Treatment

Symptomatic treatments don’t address the fundamental cause of an allergic reaction. Still, they ease the symptoms. Here are some of the dog skin allergies remedies

  • Omega 3 and 6; are fantastic anti-inflammatories.
  • Antioxidants; help boost the immune system.
  • Avoid aerosol products
  • Use flea preventive products more often.
  • Use hydrants such as Oat-meal


Every time your dog bite or lick skin, secondary infections like bacteria and yeast pose a risk. You should seek further treatment if your dog’s skin allergies become adverse

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