Normally when we think about dogs and allergies, we’re talking about the kinds of allergies that humans get because of pet dogs. Yet, skin allergies are a common condition that affects all breeds of dogs. Sometimes known as allergic dermatitis, there are a wide range of factors that lead to skin allergies in dogs. Dog allergic dermatitis is most commonly the result of allergies to flea bites, foods, or the inhalation of airborne allergens. Yet many other factors are associated with skin allergies in dogs including drug or hormonal reactions, allergies to bacteria and parasites, and even contact allergies such as reactions to topical treatments, various materials, and household cleaners.
Moreover, skin allergies in dogs may first appear at nearly any age. While flea and inhalation allergies usually present in young adults, food allergies in dogs may begin at any age. Moreover, some breeds seem to be predisposed to developing atopy, an allergy that results from inhalation or absorption of allergens through the skin.
Allergies are typically extremely difficult to diagnose because their symptoms are quite similar to the symptoms of other conditions. As a result, veterinarians normally diagnose allergies after a process of elimination. Nevertheless, there are a few symptoms to watch for if you suspect your dog may be suffering from a skin allergy.
- Scratching, licking or chewing the skin
- Rash-like bumps on the skin
- Pus-filled bumps on the skin
- Darker skin pigmentation
- Hair loss
- Head shaking
- Dark saliva
Once your veterinarian has conducted a thorough history and physical exam and conducted a variety of tests like skin scraping or cytology, a diagnosis of allergy can be made. Subsequent treatment depends on the particular allergy but will usually include limiting exposure to the allergen, the use of antibacterial shampoo or ointments, and possibly immunotherapy.