Dog Skin Allergies

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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One of the main causes of skin irritation in dogs is skin allergies. In some cases, these allergies are difficult to detect because they may be caused by foods, illness, or even fleas. Pets with skin allergies often bite or chew on the afflicted area. There are three main types of allergies, food allergies, flea allergies, and inhaled allergies (usually caused by pollen, house dust, mites, mold, and animal dander).

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Skin Allergies

Excessive itching, called pruritis, is the most common symptom of skin allergies. Dogs with these allergies may be constantly licking, biting, or rubbing their skin. These activities can be so persistent that they can wear down their incisors, cause changes to the fur in the afflicted area due to the excess of saliva from licking, or even result in an oily skin texture and loss of hair.

Based on the presenting symptoms, vets will usually take a diagnostic approach to discovering the source of the allergy. Some vets will do a skin scraping and then analyze the contents to determine the cause. Skin biopsies may be done if the results of other tests are not conclusive. If allergy is suspected, the vet will perform allergy tests to find out what factor is causing the skin discomfort.

Treating Dog Skin Allergies

Depending on the cause of the irritation, your vet may prescribe changes in diet, flea medications, or shampoos. Medication may be needed including topical medication that is applied at the site of the irritation or oral medications, especially if there is infection. Treating skin allergies may require a long term effort, but keeping your dog free from severe skin irritation is well worth it.


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