Dog Skin Allergies: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Have you been deep in dreamland only to be suddenly woken up by the entire bed shaking? No, it’s not an earthquake… it’s your dog aggressively scratching themselves. It’s hard to be mad at that sweet face under normal circumstances, but it’s especially hard when you see on their face how uncomfortable they are. 

Dog skin allergies are no joke, whether they are seasonal or seem to flare up out of nowhere. Because we all love dogs at WINPRO Pet, and want them to be as comfortable and content as possible, we wanted to do more than just scratch the surface of the issue. What causes dog skin allergies, what are the common symptoms to look out for, and how can they be treated? 

The Causes Of Allergies In Dogs

Much like allergies in humans, allergies in dogs can be a complex issue to try to “solve.” In fact, the trigger of allergies can really be just about anything… There have even been dogs who have tested positive for being allergic to humans or other dogs! 

When it comes down to the more common allergy issues that happen to dogs, they are usually divided up to three different categories:

  • Dog skin allergies - This is what we’re going to focus on today, as there are even further subcategories! Essentially, though, dog skin allergies are the most common type of allergies that dogs deal with, and are also frequently referred to as allergic dermatitis.
  • Dog food allergies - While there are very few true “food allergies,” food sensitivities can also cause serious issues in dogs. They often show up as frequent GI issues (think: nausea, vomiting, and gas), chronic ear and/or foot infections, and itchy skin.
  • Acute allergic reactions - For most of us dog owners, acute allergic reactions are by far the most dramatic and scary. These can even potentially be anaphylactic, although that rarely happens. More commonly, acute allergic reactions show up as hives and swelling (usually of the face).

Dog Skin Allergies 101

As we said, dog skin allergies are usually referred to by its medical name… allergic dermatitis. In general, there are three triggers that can lead to issues with your pup. 

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

There isn’t a whole lot that can really rattle you and make you itchy as a pet owner more than the idea of your pet (and your house) having fleas. For teeny tiny little buggers, they sure have a huge impact. 

Flea allergic dermatitis, also known as FAD, happens when the fleas saliva gets into the skin as your dog is bitten. This reaction happens so frequently that it is actually the top cause of dermatological issues in dogs in the United States! It most often impacts the base of your pup’s tail.

Food Allergies

Although food allergies are their own category, it’s also important to talk about how they can impact your pup’s skin. In addition to the more traditional GI issues food allergies cause, you may also see your pet frequently chewing on their feet or scratching at their ears, underarms, wrists, ankles, muzzle and groin. Food allergies can also create skin that is so red that you can see it from across the room, especially the inside of the ears. 

Food sensitivities, as opposed to true allergies, don't involve an immune response and are instead a gradual reaction to an ingredient in your dog’s food. For instance, beef, chicken, eggs, corn, yeast, wheat, soy, or dairy products can cause a gradual disruption in the gastrointestinal of your pup causing vomiting, diarrhea or dermatologic symptoms.   

Environmental Allergies

Dogs can develop environmental allergies just like we do, and they can be just as annoying. While these tend to be more seasonal in nature (like pollen), dogs can also be allergic to dust and mold. 

Environmental allergies can create respiratory symptoms (like sneezing and watery eyes), but also can trigger intense skin itching (especially of the ears and feet).

What Symptoms Should I Look For With Dog Skin Allergies?

There are a lot of ways that dog allergies can mimic human allergies. In fact, not only do we start to look like our dogs the longer we spend together, we can also develop some of the same allergies! 

The symptoms of dog skin allergies can vary depending on what is triggering them. However, we wanted to present a few of the most common so you know what exactly to look out for.

  • Itching
  • Excessively licking the feet
  • Shaking the head (which is a way for them to “scratch” their ears)
  • Gnawing or biting at the skin
  • Red, irritated skin
  • “Hot spots”
  • Hair loss
  • Runny nose, Sneezing, Itching
  • Ear infections scratching one or both ears
  • Licking of the paws

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, especially when it comes to the skin, it’s a sign you should schedule your dog a vet appointment as soon as possible. Don’t wait until their allergies become a bigger issue, because there is definitely the potential for infection any time your dog is excessively scratching or chewing at their skin!

How To Treat And Manage Dog Skin Allergies

Much like symptoms of dog skin allergies vary depending on the trigger, so does treatment and management. The first, and most important, step is making sure to get your dog evaluated by their veterinarian. 

This can help you narrow down the cause, which can then help you avoid it (if possible). And, as a tip to any new dog owners out there, establishing a veterinarian before trouble strikes is one of the most important things you can do.

The treatments that are available vary based on what each dog’s situation requires. Many pet owners also turn to supplements that can help reduce their dog’s symptoms to a more manageable level.  

WINPRO’s Allergy supplement contains a powerful blend of clinically-proven blood proteins which target the source of the problem rather than topically treat the symptoms you see (i.e. scratching, skin irritation, blotchy fur, etc.). Working at the biological level, the blood proteins are one of nature’s best ways to fight inflammation which we all know can cause a lot of damage. 

If WINPRO Allergy doesn’t seem to be enough for your dog’s situation, know that sometimes, gut health issues can present with allergy-like symptoms. The most powerful combination we have to fight allergies is our Allergy product paired with our Gut Health product. 

Simple home remedies consisting of bathing your dog regularly, especially with a dog shampoo meant for allergies and sensitive skin (oatmeal is a frequent ingredient) can also be extremely helpful.  Many types of shampoos have compounds in them that are aimed at soothing injured skin and calming tension.

When it comes to ways that you can change up your routine and home to help reduce the potential for dog skin allergies, we’ve got you covered there too! For instance, if your dog deals with seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to change up your walking routine. Generally speaking, the early morning and late afternoon tend to be the times with the lowest pollen levels, but always check your local allergy forecast (The Weather Channel is a great place to start).

Always make sure to clean your dog’s bed and change your air filter regularly, too! You don’t want the allergens to have free range of your home, and to continue to wreak havoc on your pet’s skin, so reduce them as much as possible.

In Summary

Dog skin allergies can be a frustrating part of being a pet owner. Trust us, we’re all dog lovers here at WINPRO Pet too, and we’ve been there. 

Learning a little bit more about why they can happen, what symptoms you should be on the lookout for, and what you may be able to do to potentially help out your precious pupper can give you the edge in giving them the boot. While we can’t always help our pet to avoid their allergens, we can be prepared to help keep them as calm and itch-free as possible. 

 

Sources:

Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatment | American Kennel Club (akc.org)

Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs and Cats - Integumentary System | Merck Veterinary Manual (merckvetmanual.com)

National and Local Weather Radar, and Daily Forecast | The Weather Channel