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Dog Advice | Skin Allergies | Vets4Pets
Dog skin allergies

Skin allergies in dogs

Skin Allergies are one of the most common health problems affecting dogs

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What is a skin allergy?

An inflammatory, chronic skin disease associated with allergies simply means the skin can’t defend itself well enough against allergens. Typical allergens include flea bites, food, house dust mites, pollens, trees, grass, mould spores, bacteria, shampoos and plastic food bowls.

What are the signs and treatments?

The main sign is scratching, which often results in skin irritation and fur loss. If your dog shows regular signs of itchiness and chew at their back, towards the tail it could be a sign of a flea allergy. 

Some dogs chew the tops of their tails as they can’t reach the back, but it’s the area over the pelvis that typically irritates them the most. Some dogs suffering from a skin allergy might chew their front feet or rub their faces on the carpet as their ears or lips are itchy.

If you see these regular signs it’s best to get in touch with your vet who can investigate the irritant. Normally preventative treatment is recommended to try and eliminate the cause by determining the allergen. For example if the allergy is caused by flea or mites, your dog will need to be treated with an effective flea and mite treatment which your vet can prescribe. 

Many allergies are seasonal such as certain pollens and your vet may choose to suppress the allergy via medication during the short period of time that the dog is subjected to the allergen. 

Your vet may suggest allergy testing via a blood test or trying to eliminate things individually from your dog’s environment until the cause is identified. This method is typically used when food allergies are suspected. 

Less common options include Immunotherapy whereby once the specific allergens have been identified, a specially prepared injection containing altered allergens are injected under the dog’s skin with the aim of de-sensitising your dog’s response to the offending allergens over a period of time. This is typically used in cases for dogs whereby avoidance of the allergen is impossible or symptoms happen for long periods of time.

Tips for owners:

Identifying the cause can take time and treatment is likely to be more about long-term management and prevention rather than finding a cure. For example, with contact allergies, you may want swap your plastic food bowl for a ceramic one or try using a different shampoo.

Always ensure your pet has regular flea and tick treatment. Many treatments can be ineffective and it’s best to consult your vet who can advise the best treatment.

For dogs that are sensitive to pollen and other outdoor irritants – don’t walk your dog through tall grasses or meadows, particularly during spring and fall when pollen counts are higher. Try to also tailor your daily walks to times when the pollen count is lowest – pollen count peaks are normally between 5am and 10am.

Every time your dog has been outside, wipe their feet with a damp towel which can help prevent pollen and other irritants being brought into the home.

Also consider an insurance policy in case your dog develops a common condition such as skin allergies, so you can receive help covering the cost of any unexpected veterinary treatment they require. At Vets4Pets we recommend Petplan’s Covered For Life® insurance.