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Itching for Relief: Allergies in Dogs Affect the Skin

0 Comments Posted by WestarborAdmin in Fleas Ticks & Heartworm, Seasonal Pet Care, The Great Outdoors on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019.
A small dog gingerly bites at its hind quarters.

Allergies in dogs most often affect their skin. Human allergy symptoms primarily show up as sneezing and watery eyes, or digestive issues. Dogs can have those allergy symptoms too but most allergies show up in their skin. They itch, bite, rub their faces and torso, and cause hot spots and hair loss. And we hate watching our furry friends suffer. 

If your dog’s skin is affected by allergies and you need help resolving it, you’ve come to the right place. The veterinarians at Westarbor Animal Hospital can give you tips on treating pet skin allergy symptoms and how to manage chronic itchy-scratchy conditions.

Allergies in Dogs that Trigger Skin Problems

If your dog is allergic, it’s frustrating for them and for you. The biggest problem is figuring out what is causing the itch. Just because your dog is scratching doesn’t mean the allergy is caused by something external or on the skin itself. It’s just where the allergens have the most effect. Allergies in dogs cause symptoms from diarrhea to scratchy skin, depending on the type of allergy.

What causes allergies in dogs? There are four main types of allergies:

  • Flea bite dermatitis — Your dog can be allergic to flea saliva from a bite
  • Food allergies — Many dogs are allergic to beef, dairy, poultry, soy, and grains
  • Contact allergy — Contact allergens can include carpet chemicals, laundry detergent, shampoo, or anything that comes into contact with the skin
  • Environmental allergy — This umbrella category includes seasonal allergies, inhalant allergies, airborne allergies, etc. 

Any of these forms of allergies in dogs can cause skin problems, also called allergic dermatitis. 

Common skin problems you may see as a result of untreated allergies include:

  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation
  • Dryness
  • Discolored skin
  • Rashes
  • Hot spots (painful, itchy sores)
  • Infection

Without treating the underlying allergy, your dog’s skin problems can worsen and be very painful. Call to schedule an appointment if your dog displays these common symptoms of dog allergies before the skin becomes too inflamed.

Treating Allergic Skin Problems in Dogs

Your veterinarian can diagnose your dog’s specific allergy type(s) and treat your pet. Determining the allergens that are causing the skin issues relies on blood, hair, and saliva tests, along with an elimination diet if your veterinarian suspects a food allergy.

A dog with allergies may have a combination of allergic triggers and symptoms. Treatment, therefore, usually includes multiple approaches.

Medications — Prescription medications for the suppression of the allergic reaction are helpful. At Westarbor, a few of the medications we use are Apoquel and Cytopoint for allergies in dogs, and Atopica for allergies in cats. Certain antihistamines may help, but consult your veterinarian before administering any over the counter products for your pet’s safety.

Supplements — Supplements are helpful in soothing the itchiness and dryness of allergic symptoms. These include Omega Fatty Acids, Probiotics, L-theanine, and Magnesium. 

Shampoos — We recommend that pet owners switch to hypoallergenic shampoos that are formulated for sensitive skin and allergies. There are wonderful, soothing skin sprays for itchiness on the market, too. Your Veterinarian can help guide you as to how frequently you should bathe your pet. 

Diet — Your pet’s diet plays a strong role in reducing the symptoms of allergies. Isolating the cause of allergies will inform what foods you choose for your pet. There are several prescription and commercial diets specially formulated for dogs with allergies. Consult with your veterinarian for the nutrition options that are appropriate for your furry friend. 

There are also alternative therapies that may be useful in treating skin conditions, such as immunotherapy and acupuncture. Each year, we are seeing more treatments become available that can help relieve allergies in dogs. 

Are Allergies Affecting Your Dog’s Skin?

Chronic itching can cause discomfort and lead to infection, sores, and other skin complications when untreated. Read up about causes, treatments and more in this Complete Guide to Dog Allergies. Then, contact us if your dog (or cat) is experiencing allergic reactions and skin conditions. Veterinarians may not be able to cure pet allergies, but we can help soothe the itch and manage allergic reactions!

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