Unlike humans who sneeze when they have allergies, dogs develop allergic dermatitis and become very itchy. Today, our Vancouver vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of allergic dermatitis in dogs.
About Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs
One of the most common skin irritations in dogs and cats is allergic dermatitis. When a dog or cat has “hot spots”, or allergic dermatitis, also known as atopic (atopy) dermatitis, there is damage to the skin barrier. This causes their skin to become inflamed, red, dry, bumpy, and itchy.
Atopic dermatitis is an itchy skin disease in dogs and cats. In this condition, an allergic reaction occurs when an animal inhales airborne substances (pollen, house dust) or ingests a substance they are sensitive to. The allergic reaction causes the animal to rub, lick, bite, or scratch. Unlike humans, your dog or cat will not sneeze often but they will itch.
Dogs with atopic dermatitis are prone to secondary skin infections, ear infections, and yeast infections and may have sensitive skin.
Any skin infection or fleas will aggravate the allergic condition and may cause flare-ups in controlled cases.
Signs of Allergic Dermatitis
- Rubbing their body on the ground or against furniture, for example.
- Licking themselves
- Chewing/ Biting themselves
- Scratch at their feet, flanks, ears, armpits, or groin, causing patchy or inconsistent hair loss and reddening and thickening of the skin.
- The skin itself may be dry and crusty or oily depending upon the dog.
- Dogs may also rub their face on the carpet; ear flaps may become red and hot. Because the wax-producing glands of the ear overproduce as a response to the allergy, they get bacterial and yeast (Malassezia ) infections of the ear.
Treating Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs
There are a few different options available for the treatment of allergic dermatitis.
Medication: Allergic (Atopic) dermatitis due to food reactions can be cured, but those due to airborne substances cannot but can be controlled with medication in most cases. Some types of steroids are used for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. They are very effective anti-inflammatory, anti-itch medications. Antifungal medications are also used to treat this because they help with yeast infections. Antihistamines are another medication used to treat allergic dermatitis just like they are used for humans.
Medicated Baths: Medicated shampoos have compounds in them that are aimed at soothing injured skin and calming inflammation
Flea Control: For dogs with this problem, a flea control regime must be maintained.
Supplements: The Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acid supplements work by improving the overall health of the skin. These fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative agents.
Environmental Control: If you know what is causing your pet's allergic dermatitis, avoiding it altogether is best for your dog or cat.