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Canine Skin Allergies 101

Canine skin allergies make your pet itchy and miserable.

Strangely enough, whatever has caused the symptoms often didn't even have to have come in contact with Fido's skin.'

What causes canine skin allergy symptoms?

All sorts of things, including:

  • Seasonal allergies, dust or mold.
  • Dog food ingredients, or something in his favorite treats.  
  • Parasites such as fleas.
  • Chemicals in cleaning products or yard treatments.

... even the grass under his feet can all trigger allergies in dogs.

Although some allergies might cause your pup to sneeze or cough, by far the most common symptom of an allergic reaction to ANYTHING is skin irritation and inflammation.



Removing the allergen is the only way to 'cure' canine skin allergies, so it's really important to take the time to figure out what's causing the problem.

This can take some time (and a fair amount of 'detective work') meanwhile your poor pup is still itchy and uncomfortable - so finding ways to reduce his body's over-reaction and soothe his skin is also a priority.

This page will help you do both!


Symptoms Of Canine Skin Allergies

The most common ways in which allergies affect your dog's skin include:

  • Excessive scratching

  • Licking/biting/chewing at himself - especially at his legs, feet, tail or tummy area

  • Patches of red, irritated skin. The area might even be swollen, scabby, or feel hot to the touch

  • A rash, often on belly and/or thighs

  • Repeated head shaking, or scratching/pawing at his ears

  • Patches of thickened, greasy skin 

Depending on exactly what it is that your pup is allergic to, he may have one, several, or even all (poor baby!) of the above symptoms.

Generally there is a subtle difference between symptoms depending on what is triggering them.

Inhalant Allergy Symptoms:

If your pup is allergic to dust, pollen, mold etc. then he's likely to be seriously itchy.

The itching may be concentrated in the groin, armpits and paws.

He may also have patches of thick, greasy-looking skin.

His ear flaps may look red and/or feel hot.. and will also be itchy.

He'll probably scratch himself a lot, and even bite at (or lick) the itchy areas excessively.

The constant biting and licking can cause hot spots, raw skin and even infection.

If canine skin allergy symptoms are seasonal, then pollen is a likely culprit. Dust or mold is more likely to result in consistent, year round allergy symptoms.

Usually inhalant allergies appear in dogs over 2 years old.

Flea Allergy Symptoms

Many dogs are allergic to flea saliva, and react by developing Dermatitis.

This usually produces 'Hot Spots' which are areas of inflamed, raw, red skin which might be scabby or scaly.

Patchy hair loss is common too.

Because there is very intense itching with hot spots, sometimes secondary infections can start up because your pup scratches/bites at himself so intensely.

Symptoms of an infection that's related to canine skin allergies often include swelling of the area, sometimes it might feel hot to the touch, there can even be pus or clear/yellow fluid leaking from the sore areas.

The most common places for flea allergy dermatitis to show up is on your puppy or dog's back, especially around the lower back and tail area.

Dog Food Allergy Symptoms

Ingredients in dog food or treats can cause canine skin allergies, resulting in generalized itchy skin.

This won't be a seasonal problem, but will be present year round (unless of course it's related to a treat or food that your pup isn't eating regularly).

Skin problems and ear inflammation/itching are the main symptom of dog food allergies.

Dog food allergies can appear very suddenly, at any age, and are usually a reaction to a food that the pup/dog has been eating for some time.

Contact Allergy Symptoms

This type of canine skin allergy is the least common, but it can happen.

In a dog who is having an allergic reaction to something that has come in contact with his body, there's often swelling, redness, a rash or skin irritation at the site of the contact.

For example, if your puppy is allergic to the laundry detergent you used to wash his new sweater, then you will probably find that the skin on his upper body seems irritated.

If it's a reaction to his new collar, then the irritation will be around his neck.

Sometimes dogs can be allergic to fertilizers, or other chemicals used on the grass outdoors, or to carpet shampoos used indoors.

The most likely reaction to these is that your pet will have red, itchy feet that may even be swollen.

A rash on the area of your dog's skin which came in contact with the allergy trigger is also possible.

If you have a female dog who squats very low when she pees, you may also notice inflammation, redness and irritation around the vulva.

These symptoms can come on very suddenly, and occur at any age.

Although canine skin allergies symptoms can include a rash, this can also be caused by other conditions including Mange, Ringworm, Staph infection, yeast infection, fungal infection, heat rash, a reaction to medication and more. 



Treating Canine Skin Allergies

The good news is that there are lots of ways to treat canine skin allergies, and to reduce the itching, inflammation and general discomfort that your puppy or dog is feeling.

Veterinary Treatment of Canine Skin Allergies

Your veterinarian can prescribe antihistamines - either a shot or medicine to be given orally, or sometimes both.

If there's a lot of swelling or inflammation, he might also prescribe a course of corticosteroids (can also be given as a shot), and if there are signs of infection then an antibiotic as well.


Natural Products for Dog Skin Allergy Symptoms

For mild to moderate symptoms, there are many over-the-counter products and natural treatments that can help make your pet feel a whole lot more comfortable.

These include feeding only a high quality dog food, giving Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements, using itch-soothing products (such as shampoos, conditioners, hydrocortisone sprays) and natural products (such as those which contain Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel, Calendula, Oatmeal etc.)

Here are some that you may want to try.

Itchy Skin Relief for Dogs





Shampoo for Dog Allergies





Supplements for Allergies in Dogs





Remove The Source of the Allergy

Although there are lots of products and treatments which can reduce your dog's allergy symptoms, there is no medicine that will CURE his allergies.

If you want to get rid of the allergy completely then you need to find out what's causing the problem and eliminate it.

Dog flea allergy relief - kill the fleas!

So, if your little one's skin is red and itchy and you see signs of a flea problem , then make sure that you start using a safe and reliable flea medicine for dogs right away.

If you suspect a dog food allergy, change to a food that is specifically designed for dogs with sensitive tummies such as a hypoallergenic food.

Make sure it has totally different ingredients to the food that has triggered the allergy.

With a contact allergy it's often quite simple to find out what's causing your pup's reaction because symptoms usually appear soon after the contact and are localized.

Inhalant allergies in dogs can be more difficult as you can't exactly take all the pollen or dust out of the air for example!

So reducing his exposure to the trigger/s allergen and treating the symptoms is the best you can hope for.


› Canine Skin Allergies 101

› Canine Skin Allergies 101

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