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Dog Skin Allergies - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

If your dog is experiencing itchiness, obsessive scratching, irritability, and overall discomfort, it may be a sign of a skin allergy. Our veterinarians in Portland explain how allergic reactions can cause these symptoms and more.

What Can Cause Skin Allergies in Dogs

Skin allergies, also known as allergic dermatitis, are one of the most frequent types of allergies that dogs experience. A wide range of irritants can affect your furry friend and cause them to itch, leading to discomfort and constant scratching. Unfortunately, repeated scratching can irritate the skin, inflaming it and making it more susceptible to other infections. The good news is that if your dog suffers from skin allergies, your veterinarian can provide assistance! The three most common causes of skin allergies in dogs are:

Common Food Allergies

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from various food allergies or sensitivities. These allergies can cause your pet to scratch their ears or paws or exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or both. However, it's essential to differentiate between food sensitivities and food allergies.

Food sensitivities, also known as intolerances, result in a gradual reaction to a particular ingredient such as beef, wheat, milk, or chicken. Symptoms can include chronic ear or foot infections, itchiness, diarrhea, vomiting, and more. On the other hand, true food allergies trigger an immune response that can lead to skin conditions such as hives and facial swelling.

Environmental Allergens That Can Affect Your Dog

Dust, mold, and pollen can cause atopic allergic reactions in dogs, such as atopic dermatitis. Seasonal allergies also fall under this category and can be challenging to diagnose and identify, as your dog may only show symptoms during certain seasons or times of the year. Similar to food allergies, you should examine your dog's ears and paws for signs of environmental allergies. Clues may also appear around the eyes, muzzle, underarms, wrists, ankles, and between toes.

Dog Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Dogs can develop an allergic reaction to flea saliva, leading to flea allergy dermatitis. This condition can cause severe itching, especially at the base of the tail, and may result in inflamed, scabbed, and red skin. If your dog has fleas, it's important to take action and seek treatment. You can regularly inspect your dog for flea dirt (feces) and look closely to spot 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
  • Sores
  • Hair loss
  • Rubbing of face or ears
  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive licking
  • Chewing or biting the skin

Dogs with severe skin allergies may experience discomfort and itching. In addition, they are at risk of developing a secondary infection. When a dog bites, scratches, or licks their skin in response to the itching, yeast and bacterial infections can invade through sores, leading to the development of infections.

Dog Skin Allergies Treatment

Skin allergies in dogs can range from mild to severe and can be treated using various approaches. If your dog is displaying symptoms of skin allergies, it's important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to diagnose and identify the problematic allergen causing your dog's reactions. After diagnosis, your veterinarian will create a custom treatment plan to help soothe your dog's skin condition and start the healing process.

The best treatment for your pet will depend on the cause and nature of their allergy, its location on the body, and other factors. Treatment options for skin allergies in dogs may include non-steroidal medications, medicated baths, injectable medications, laser treatments, and other approaches.

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.

If your dog is itching and scratching or showing other signs of a skin allergy, contact our Portland vets right away to book an examination for your pet.

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