Does my dog have a skin allergy?

Beneath their coats, our furry friends have skin just like we do, and like us, their skin is their largest organ. Not only does it keep their insides safe from harmful external microorganisms, but it also helps to regular their temperature and plays an important role in many other body systems. Unfortunately, our animals are just as prone to experiencing problems with their skin as we are. While there are many different skin issues that can plague them, one of the most common is a skin allergy.


Skin allergies in pets are allergies that occur when they come into contact with a substance which their body perceives as harmful. When this happens, it triggers the production of a substance called histamines. These cause a number of reactions, including boosting blood flow to the affected area. It is this that is typically responsible for the itching and redness most often associated with skin allergies.


One of the biggest challenges of pet ownership is actually identifying when your dog is unwell, and this is particularly true when it comes to skin allergies. This is because the skin is hidden beneath your dog’s fur and can be difficult to see. Nevertheless, it is imperative that any skin issues are detected as quickly as possible. While they may not appear to be overly serious, they can make life very unpleasant for your pet, and left untreated, can lead to complications. For example, if your dog is persistently scratching for a long time, they could break the skin which in turn could allow an infection to develop. Animals are very good at masking signs that they are unwell, so it is down to us as owners to recognize the signs and symptoms that they need veterinary help.

What causes skin allergies?

Skin allergies in dogs can be caused by a number of different things. The most common include:


Fleas. Flea allergy dermatitis is one of the most prevalent skin conditions in animals. Whilst flea saliva is irritating to all pets, some animals are particularly sensitive to it and when they have fleas, they will experience unbearable itchiness and irritation.


Food allergies. Our pets can be allergic to ingredients in certain foods too, and if a reaction occurs it can manifest in a number of different ways, including on the skin. Your vet will need to work with you to discover which food it is that is causing your dog’s allergy. 


Environmental allergies. Also known as atopic dermatitis, this is where a skin allergy occurs as a result of a hypersensitivity to one or more substances found in your pet’s environment. This could be pollen, dust, mold, or something completely different.

Symptoms of skin allergies in dogs

Skin allergies can present with a number of different symptoms, and in many cases, they may also be accompanied by other, more general signs of an allergic reaction. Some of the indicators that you should look out for include:


  • Excessive, persistent itchiness

  • Scratching that keeps your pet or your family awake

  • Red, inflamed skin

  • A visible rash on the skin

  • Hives, which appear as red, raised lumps on the skin

  • Chewing their skin

  • Excessively grooming the same spot over and over

  • Rubbing their body against furniture or the floor to try and alleviate the itch

  • Scooting along the floor

  • Pus or a foul odor emanating from the skin

  • Hair loss/bald spot

  • Dry flaking skin

  • Scabs


Anything usual that is affecting your pet’s skin warrants an appointment with your vet who will be able to confirm a diagnosis and talk you through the treatment options that are available.


If you suspect that your dog may have a skin allergy, don’t leave them to suffer unnecessarily for a moment longer. Schedule an appointment with our compassionate pet team today.

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