Skin allergies can affect dogs of any breed or coat type. The important thing is to be able to recognize the symptoms if your dog does develop an allergy.
You can tell your dog has skin allergies if it’s constantly or obsessively biting or scratching its skin, compulsively licking or chewing at it, or if you notice rashes, excess hair loss, or extremely itchy lesions on its skin. Besides being uncomfortable for your dog, allergies can sicken an animal, and if left untreated for too long, could lead to death.
Some dog allergies will require the expertise of a veterinarian and possibly a dermatologist also if your vet determines that your dog is not responding to any treatments. It is not easy to find a dermatologist who will also treat animals, so be sure your veterinarian recommends a doctor who will see your pet either at the vet’s office or in your home. For health reasons, many doctors will not allow pets in their offices.
Here is a list of five of the most common skin allergies affecting dogs that necessitate a visit to the vet:
(1) Food Allergies
Some manufacturers make claims that their dog foods are complete or well-balanced. This does not mean that feeding your dog any of these foods will prevent skin allergies because your dog may be allergic to one or more ingredients in the food. One piece of important advice is – if the first ingredient listed in your dog’s food is wheat, corn, or meat-by-products – and not a meat or fowl, then it’s not what you should be feeding your pet.
If your dog continues to suffer from skin allergies after changing to a higher quality dog food, chances are it’s probably allergic to certain ingredients found in most medium to lower priced dog foods. Ask your vet for recommendations on a healthy, allergen-free dog food that fulfills all your dog’s nutrient needs.
(2) Fungal and bacterial skin allergies
These types of allergies can be contagious and are easily transmitted to other pets and possibly to humans. They are greasy looking and emit a very stinky odor. A fungal or bacterial allergy is usually easily diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian using a topical ointment or antibiotics.
(3) Allergies from Parasites
A very common allergy that affects dogs is caused by the saliva and droppings of pests that sometimes infect dogs. These are usually easily diagnosed and treated by your vet. Some of the parasites that can take up residence on a dog include fleas, scabies, lice, chiggers, and mange.
(4) Environmental allergies
Dogs can suffer from allergies caused by many things in the environment like dust, mold or pollen. And depending on where you live, your dog may be at risk of developing allergies caused by seasonal fluctuations outside. Inside, furnace heat or air conditioning may also cause allergies.
(5) Psychological reasons
If you rule out all the above possible causes for your dog’s allergy, you need to consider the possibility that your dog is suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder which expresses itself as obsessive licking, biting or chewing the same spot or spots on its skin. This is a psychological disorder not attributable to an allergy resulting from any of the above causes. Some of the reasons a dog might harm itself in one of these ways is out of boredom or stress, separation anxiety, or simply frustration caused by lack of attention.
For some dogs a combination of regular exercise and the command “No!” when scratching or chewing at its skin, is enough to stop the unwanted behavior. However, many dogs will require a visit to both a dermatologist and a behavioral specialist to find a solution.
Any skin allergy affecting a dog requires assistance from you as the owner. After all, no dog suffering from any of these allergies is capable of determining what’s wrong and how to cure it without your help.