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Dog Skin Allergies – What’s Up With Your Pup?



Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. Your dog is at it again. Scratching his ears with his hind leg, chewing his tail, licking a hot spot. He’s about to come out of his skin and so are you. Could he have a skin allergy? Yes! Dogs often have allergies that manifest in the skin.

Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Dogs

Your dog’s skin condition may start on the tail, ears, paws, or belly but the itching can be widespread and very uncomfortable for your furry friend. Depending on the cause, allergy symptoms vary widely. However, the most common symptoms of dog skin allergies include:

  • Dry or flaky, itchy skin
  • Red, irritated rashes
  • Thickened skin
  • Crusty scabs
  • Moist, tender “hot spots” (warm to the touch)
  • Swollen skin with redness

Causes of Dog Skin Allergies

A dog’s skin problem can start when he touches, eats, or breathes in allergens. Allergens are usually common or harmless substances that cause the immune system to react with a threat response. That ultimately causes your dog’s skin irritation and itching. And your poor pooch is not alone. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, allergies in dogs have increased by 30 percent over the last decade.

So, what could be the culprit? Many potential dog skin allergens lurk outdoors and inside your home:

  • Pollen from trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds
  • Mold spores
  • Dander (dead skin cells) from other pets
  • Dust mites
  • Insect bites, including fleas (an allergic reaction to the bite)
  • Feathers
  • Fabrics
  • Grooming products
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Rubber and plastic
  • Food of all kinds, even your dog’s regular brand (and even in older pets)

Diagnosing Your Dog’s Itchy Skin

This is where your veterinarian comes in. If you think your dog has a skin allergy, you both need professional advice because allergies and skin reactions sometimes signal a more serious issue, such as an infection or chronic disease.

When you arrive at the office, the vet will ask you for a full history and then physically examine your dog. If that doesn’t reveal the affronting allergen, a simple blood test may do the trick. Or, the vet may want to perform a scratch test, which involves carefully nicking your dog’s skin with tiny amounts of allergens and watching for allergic reactions on your dog’s skin in a controlled and safe way.

Believe it or not, food allergies can also cause skin swelling and itchy rashes in addition to the more typical vomiting and diarrhea. Although food allergies in dogs are far less common, they may be life threatening if untreated and can even be caused by foods your dog has always eaten. If your vet suspects a food allergy, they may prescribe a special diet until symptoms disappear and then ask you to gradually reintroduce foods a little at a time to identify those causing the skin reaction.

Relief for You Both

Understanding the symptoms and causes of allergies and skin problems in dogs will start you and your furry friend on the path to the right treatment. Whatever the cause turns out to be, a bath with non-irritating dog shampoo and the Pet Wand Pro dog shower may be just what the vet ordered to gently remove allergens around sensitive areas – so your dog can stop scratching and get back to playing.


State of Pet Heath 2018 Report. Banfield Pet Hospital. https://www.banfield.com/state-of-pet-health (retrieved July 2018). WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/allergies-dogs#1 (retrieved July 2018).