Skin Allergies in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments
Skin allergies in dogs are widespread.
Skin allergies present themselves in various ways, and their results can range from your dog being in slight discomfort, to excruciating pain.
However, as common as they are, they can still be extremely distressing for your pet and the whole family. Skin allergies will often cause your dog to scratch incessantly as well as chew and bite at particularly itchy or painful areas. The result of the chewing or scratching can leave your pet with very sore skin, which can often lead to infections.
What is a Skin Allergy?
Basically put, a skin allergy is your dog’s immune system reacting to something external.
Usually, a dog will develop an allergy before the age of three, whilst their bodies are still developing. However, it is not uncommon for dogs to develop allergies in their later years.
Unfortunately for our pets, skin allergies can also be genetic, meaning they are passed down from your dog’s parents, and there is nothing you or any vet can do about it.
Symptoms of a Skin Allergy:
- Itching and Scratching for prolonged periods
- Redness and tough skin
- Smelling skin
- Inflammation and swelling of the face
How Allergens Make Contact
There are many ways an allergen can enter the dog’s immune system.
One of the most common ways an allergen will enter your dog’s body is through the mouth. Although we all try our hardest to watch everything that enters our dogs’ mouth, any pet owner is aware that this is not always possible.
Monitoring what your dog is eating is essential, especially if you believe they may be reacting to something. They may be munching on a plant (either in the house or the garden) or finding their way into a rubbish bag.
As the name suggests, these are the allergens that your dog breaths in. A common inhaled allergen among both dogs and humans is pollen. In humans, inhaled allergens often affect the breathing system. However, in dogs, they commonly present as skin allergies.
Inhaled allergens are often worse in the summer as the changing season brings different toxins for your pet to inhale.
Although the least common way for a dog to develop a skin allergy, contact allergies can be extremely irritating for your pet. Contact allergies occur when something makes direct contact with your dog’s skin. This commonly occurs when pesticides are used on grass.
Seek Professional Advice
It is incredibly tempting to diagnose your dog at home based on the symptoms they present. However, seeking a professional diagnosis from your vet is essential to enable you to give your pet the right care.
A vet will conduct a full physical examination, to determine a complete list of current symptoms, diagnosis, and a treatment plan. Be aware that the vet may likely determine that the allergy is due to a combination of factors.
It may even be the case that your dog is not suffering from an allergy at all.
Dry skin is common amongst dogs and similarly presents itself as a skin allergy would. Dry skin can cause significant discomfort for your dog and cause them to scratch almost continuously. If you part your dog’s hair, you will undoubtedly see flakes of dandruff in the hair and cracked, sore skin underneath. It would help if you still took the dog to the vets to confirm this.
Remedies for Relieving Allergies in Dogs
Regularly washing, and thoroughly drying your dog is imperative if they suffer from skin irritation. Use hypoallergenic shampoos to clean their fur, and towel dry for the most comforting wash. After bathing, the skin should be soothed, and you should see a remarkable reduction in scratching, in the short term at least.
Additionally, your vet may recommend a medicated shampoo for use at bath time. These medicated shampoos are explicitly developed to soothe skin and ease irritation.
If you have ever suffered from sunburn, you will appreciate the immediate relief that aloe vera can offer. Applying a generous amount to any particularly severely affected areas on the body will help soothe the pain and discomfort your pet is suffering from.
Although it will not cure their situation, it will help offer some instant relief. However, be sure to double-check that the aloe vera does not contain any alcohol.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements
Omega 3 fatty acids are proven to reduce inflammation, so if your pet is suffering from particularly inflamed skin, these supplements should help calm things down.
Antihistamines are safe for dogs to use and are regularly prescribed by vets.
The dosage will depend entirely on the allergy your dog is suffering from, and its severity. It should be noted that there is varying success treating dog allergies with antihistamines.
If the allergy is prolonged, your dog will likely have scratched and bitten the area, making it sore. This may mean the area is infected, in which case the vet will likely prescribe antibiotics. It is often recommended that these are hidden in food to ensure the dog swallows the pill.
Preventing Allergic Reactions
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent allergic reactions in your pets completely.
The best way to prevent your dog from developing allergies is by ensuring they live a healthy life. Regular exercise will keep them in the best shape and ensure they are happy and help reduce anxiety levels.
A well rounded, healthy diet will also encourage the overall health of your pet. Adding probiotics into the diet will help promote gut health and optimise nutrient absorption.
Identifying the cause of the issue is the first step to making your dog’s life more comfortable. If the cause of the allergy is food, merely eliminating it from their diet may be enough. However, with an allergy such as grass or pollen, it may not be quite so straightforward.