Skin allergies in dogs, also referred to as allergic dermatitis, have several potential causes as well as several common symptoms and all of them will be painful for your dog.
Finding the exact cause can be extremely difficult as there are also several allergens that may be the culprit, and they will fall into different classes of allergies.
For any owner to begin to find the answer, it is helpful to understand the different allergies and symptoms.
Skin allergies in dogs will show several symptoms, and some of them may surprise an owner as they are not nearly as obvious as others.
The most common and best known of these symptoms will start with your dog scratching as well as licking themselves.
Both are common in all dogs, but when allergies are present it will in most cases become extreme.
However, they can also cause your dog to chew or bite their skin, feet, or ears as they are trying to get rid of the itching.
As the allergies increase in severity, you may also start to see red, raised, or scaly areas developing on your dog’s skin, as well as bumps that become crusty in nature.
In the worst cases, you may also see pus pockets also start to develop both on and in their skin.
As a result of these symptoms, hair loss will begin to occur.
In some dogs it may be very mild, while in others it can become quite severe.
But skin allergies in dogs also will show symptoms that a lot of owners may not be aware of.
The first of the less obvious is an increase in your dog’s skin pigmentation as well as thickening of their skin.
If your dog suddenly starts to stain themselves with brown spots, this is caused by excessive salivation that is the result of an allergy in their skin.
But perhaps the most chilling symptom will be head shaking.
If the allergy is severe and is affecting their head, face, or neck, this is a natural reaction as they are now desperate to get rid of the itching and will shake their head.
As the itching increases, so does the shaking.
Flea Bite Hypersensitivity
Skin allergies in dogs will always begin with perhaps the most common cause, flea bite hypersensitivity.
Fleas are more than just a nuance to your dog and an inconvenience to you; they can also be very dangerous.
Some dogs have a high tolerance to fleas, but the majority can develop extreme allergies even with a very low flea count.
And to compound the situation further, it will be very difficult to identify fleas on your dog.
Dogs that have flea allergies will in most all cases start to bite at the base of their tail and scratch frequently in the same area.
As a result of this, most dogs with this form of skin allergy will start to have thinning hair in this area that will very quickly turn into hair loss.
In most cases, flea dirt can be identified if you know what to look for.
The best method of identify fleas is to wet your dog and examine their skin in detail as this dirt will turn a red color when it is wet.
If it is fleas and it is not treated, it can rapidly spread over to the entire body and will no longer be isolated to the back.
The next common cause of skin allergies in dogs is atopy, which is a condition where an allergen is inhaled by your dog.
As dogs age, there immune system does develop several ways to fight this form of allergy, and because of this it is most common in dogs between 1 and 3 years old.
This is not viewed by some owners as a skin allergy, which is a huge misconception.
Although it does first affect your dog’s nose causing it to run, it also affects several other parts of your dog.
This form of allergy has no age boundary, affects all breeds, and will first attack your dog’s face.
It can also attack their feet and then the areas directly above their legs, called the armpits.
As this form of allergy intensifies and is not treated, it can easily spread over their entire body.
The last of the common causes of skin allergies in dogs is from food allergies.
This is the most difficult allergy to identify for several reasons.
It can affect all breeds at any age, but what makes it so difficult is that whatever your dog is allergic to may take several months to show any symptoms.
You may have recently changed food, but it could also be the result of a change several months ago.
In addition to skin allergies, it can also cause your dog to start to vomit as well as developing diarrhea.
Skin allergies in dogs have several more potential causes, although they are not quite as common, and the first is yeast infections.
All dogs have small amounts of yeast that grows naturally in their skin, but in some cases it can grow and over produce. It generally will affect your dog’s ears, anal sacs, vagina, and the rectum.
It is most common in Silky, Australian, Maltese, and West Highland White Terriers, as well as Chihuahuas, Poodles, Shetland Sheepdogs, and German Shepherds.
Skin allergies in dogs can also be the result of drugs, and the most common is from a reaction to antibiotics.
When this occurs, your dog will start to scratch and redness will occur that will soon develop into hives.
It can very easily lead to severe illness in your dog as well as a condition referred to as skin sloughing.
This is a very serious situation where the skin of your dog is trying to cast off, and will need immediate medical attention as the dead cells try to separate from the living cells.
Skin allergies in dogs may also be the result of lice, scabies, or bacterial skin infections, but in the vast majority of cases it is the result of the three most common causes.
These allergies may be mild but in almost every case they will increase in severity.
The sooner you can identify them and get them treated, the quicker your dog will return to normal.