Common Dog Skin Allergies & How They Can Be Treated

Common Dog Skin Allergies & How They Can Be Treated

Published: 24th April, 2022 in: Pets

Similar to human allergies, dogs can develop allergies and show various severities of allergic reactions to various kinds of allergens. Whether your dog has an environmental allergy or is allergic to a certain food, it can be difficult to diagnose the cause and find a suitable treatment that allows them to live itch-free and avoid flare-ups. 

Dog skin allergies, otherwise known as allergic dermatitis, are common in dogs and can show themselves in various ways, whether that’s through. itching, soreness, redness, or hot patches. The most common dog allergies show themselves in the spring and summer months when the weather is warmer, for example, dogs can develop seasonal allergies like humans where they will experience reactions when they come into contact with or inhale pollen, plants, or insects.

If you’ve noticed your dog itching and making themselves sore or seen other strange symptoms in your dog, it’s important to diagnose an allergy as early on as possible before it becomes any more serious to reduce the chance of it becoming infected. 

Weldricks Pharmacy has put together a guide on common dog skin allergies with advice on symptoms to watch out for and treatments your vet may recommend. You can also browse our variety of products for dogs to help soothe and treat sore or sensitive skin that can be caused by allergic reactions.

What are common allergies in dogs?

Just as is the case with humans, there are various different types of allergies in dogs that can affect their skin. 

The most common dog allergies to be aware of are:

  • Environmental allergies, including inhalant or contact allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Flea allergies

Environmental allergies in dogs

Most often, dog skin allergies you come across are a result of an allergic reaction to something in a dog’s environment. This can be dust or dust mites, mould, or more commonly a seasonal allergy to an allergen such as grass, weed, or tree pollens. Environmental and seasonal dog allergies are similar to hay fever in humans and can cause discomfort on varying scales depending on the severity of the allergy.

You should always seek advice from your vet if you notice your dog itching, scratching, or harming themselves, or find any lumps or bumps that weren’t there before so a vet can diagnose whether it’s an allergic reaction. You can, however, help your vet to understand the cause by keeping a close eye on your dog’s behaviour. For example, if your dog tends to suddenly start itching in the warmer months or after it’s been for a walk, it’s more likely to be a pollen allergy. Whereas if your dog is itching most of the time, it could be caused by dust. 

Another less common environmental dog skin allergy can be to certain ingredients used in products, for example, the shampoo, grooming products, or even the fabric conditioner or cleaning products you use on your own clothes or household items.

Food allergies 

Dogs can also develop allergies or sensitivities to both new or existing food products that they’re being fed. They can be allergic to the type of protein used in the food such as chicken, beef, or eggs, or even the wheat or type of vegetables used in food. 

Food allergies are less common and it can be trickier to identify which ingredients are causing an allergic reaction. If you suspect your dog is allergic to or intolerant to a food, it’s important to speak to a vet professional who will advise on the best course of action and may prescribe a certain diet. 

Flea allergies

Another common dog skin allergy is flea allergy. It’s important to note that just because your dog has had an allergic reaction, it doesn’t mean that they have fleas themselves, it can be something as minor as coming into contact with one flea while on a walk, for example. Dogs can develop allergies to both flea bites and flea saliva, which can again cause itching and soreness of the skin. 

It’s important to treat your dog(s) for fleas regularly to avoid them coming into prolonged contact with the insects. If your dog is showing severe reactions to fleas, however, it’s important to still seek vet advice who may prescribe extra protection and treatments for the allergy. 

What do dog skin allergies look like?

Symptoms of dog skin allergies can include and range from:

  • Poor coat health, texture, or length
  • Itching, licking and chewing the skin e.g. feet, ears, eyes, armpits, and groyne
  • Dry skin, rashes, redness, bumps, or hives
  • Hot spots 
  • Self-harm or mutilation 
  • Gastrointestinal pain or discomfort
  • Diarrhoea and flatulence
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Swelling or the face or ears
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing

Itching is the main symptom of a skin allergy seen in dogs and this refers to frequent or obsessive itching, not your dog itching every now and again as humans do. 

How can you diagnose dog skin allergies?

The best thing dog owners can do is to keep an eye on their dog’s behaviour to identify when their skin symptoms flare up, for example, whether it is after your dog has eaten, or after they’ve been for a walk. Once you are aware that there’s an allergy occurring, take your dog to the vet to identify the allergen. It’s important to identify and diagnose your dog’s skin allergy as soon as you can before it develops further and becomes a skin infection. 

Your vet may recommend having your dog tested using blood tests that show whether there are certain antibodies present that are produced when an animal is allergic to a certain allergen. You may also be advised to have skin tests carried out where a small amount of the allergen is injected into the skin and the reaction is monitored. 

It’s important to be aware that not all allergies in dogs are identifiable with itching and scratching; some can cause acute allergic reactions such as an anaphylactic shock. If you notice any kind of unusual behaviour or reaction in your dog, it’s important to seek professional advice from your vet immediately. 

How can you treat dog skin allergies?

There are various dog skin allergy treatments that your vet may recommend, including:

  • Medicated, emollient shampoos that calm the skin and help to repair the skin barrier
  • Allergy relief medication including antihistamines
  • Prescribed medication such as antibiotics or antifungal medicines
  • For food allergies, a process of elimination to identify which food is causing the allergic reaction so you can cut it out from your dog's diet

There are also some useful ways to help your dog avoid flare-ups once you know what their allergens are, for example:

  • Ensure regular flea treatments of your dog and any other animals it is in close contact with
  • Avoid walking your dog in long grass or freshly cut grass, or in areas where the pollen count is high
  • Avoid potentially irritating products around the house, for example, air freshener, strongly scented fabric softener, sprays
  • Hoover, dust and clean your home regularly
  • Stick to any diet advised by your vet and ensure your dog can’t access food that they are allergic to around the house or outdoors

Browse the Weldricks Pharmacy range of dog care products

Weldricks Pharmacy now provides a wide range of dog, cat, and other pet care products that you can browse via our online pharmacy, from flea and tick treatments to soothing grooming products,  or supplements to keep your beloved animals in good health. Browse our range today or get in touch with the team for advice or information on our products.