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Skin Allergies: What Dog Owners Need To Know

Anyone who’s ever had allergies knows how miserable they can be – the sneezing, runny eyes, stuffy nose! It’s almost enough to make you want to stay inside all spring and summer!

Our furbabies can have allergies too, only instead, they often get itchy skin. It can happen on their bellies, backs, legs, ears, or feet. You could miss the signs of allergy because it looks like your dog is having a good time grooming…except way too much.

There are four main allergies in dogs:

1) Contact allergies

This is what happens when your furbabies get itchy after a walk in the grass, after a bath, or after lying in your garden. They may be allergic to certain types of grass, shampoo, or anything that touches their skin. We can often control this by avoiding exposure to the allergen: not going to that one park that seems to make him itchy, changing your mulch, or using a different shampoo. If that’s not practical, your veterinarian may put your dog on some medications. Medications are picked based on; how bad the reaction is; how healthy he/she is overall; and what other medications they are currently on.

This is fun but itchy!


2) Airborne allergies (“Atopy”)

These tend to cause seasonal skin problems. The itchiness usually appears in the spring, summer, or autumn and then goes away within a few weeks — only to return the next year at the same time. If you are unlucky, your pet might suffer from skin problems all year round! That’s because the allergen is something in the air – pollen and leaf mould are common culprits. Giving your furbaby an antihistamine every day during that time of year is often enough to control signs. (Talk to your vet about what kind of antihistamine and how much is right for your furbaby.) In severe cases, we may need to look into other medical options.

3) Flea allergies

Fleas would make anyone itchy, but the itching is especially bad in furbabies with flea allergies! Good flea prevention goes a long way in preventing flare-ups, although they can’t always eliminate itching entirely. That’s because flea preventatives mostly work by preventing fleas from moving in, settling down, and having little flea babies. They don’t prevent a drifter flea from jumping on, biting your dog, and jumping right off! Plus, some flea preventatives are more effective than others and some of the most popular ones from several years ago don’t work as well as they used to. If your dog is itchy, especially over his back or near the base of his tail, come talk to us about what flea preventive is best for him and what else we can do to help him.

They’re not real if I can’t see ’em.


4) Food allergies

These are the most frustrating for both vets and owners! Food allergies can show up as skin problems (especially on the front paws and/or inside the ears) or as gastrointestinal problems or both! Your furbaby can be allergic to pretty much any protein—most often beef, chicken or lamb. They can even develop an allergy to a food they’ve been eating their whole lives! The most common way to figure out what ingredient your little friend is allergic to is a “food trial,” which your vet can guide you through if they suspect a food allergy. Unfortunately, antihistamines aren’t very helpful in cases like these.

Mmmm! Delicious!


So there you go, the 4 main types of allergies that dogs can suffer from. Remember, trying to figure out which type of skin allergies your dog has, can be a long process. It is through a process of elimination that your veterinarian will be able to work out which type of allergy your dog has/have!

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