Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

Allergic dermatitis is a bread term that refers to a wide ranged of allergies to different factors such as food, fleas, inhalants or different materials. The dog responds to different factors of the environment by displaying different symptoms including dermatitis, itching and inflammation.

Common Allergens

Allergic dermatitis may be caused by different factors including:

  • Fleas, especially flea bites, as the flea saliva contains a substance sensitive dogs are allergic to
  • Food
  • Pollens, grasses and other substances that are inhaled (atopy)
  • Contact with different materials
  • Medication
  • Bacterial or fungal allergies
  • Allergies to other parasites such as mites, ticks or intestinal worms

The atopy and flea bite allergic dermatitis is more common in adults over the age of 2, while the other types of allergic dermatitis can occur at any age.

Allergic Dermatitis Symptoms

The allergic dermatitis will manifest through a few symptoms:

  • Excessive scratching, licking, biting and chewing of the skin
  • Irritated and red skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Bumps on the skin
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hair loss
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Some dogs may display all these symptoms, while others will only display a few symptoms. If the allergies are seasonal, the symptoms will only occur during the pollen season.

Diagnosing Allergic Dermatitis

The allergic dermatitis may be detected by performing a few tests. The vet will take a look at the dog to determine if there are any fleas or external parasites. The tests may include:

  • Skin scraping examination
  • Cytology of the skin
  • Blood tests to find the allergen or alternatively intradermal testing
  • Food trials if food is the suspected allergen

The factor causing the allergic dermatitis should be detected and removed from the dog’s surroundings, if possible.

Treatment Options

The allergic dermatitis should be treated, as it may cause secondary skin infections. The dog may also scratch, lick and bite his skin to the point of causing severe wounds.

The treatment will depend on what causes the allergic dermatitis. The dog can receive allergy medication such as antihistamines and steroids. Allergy injections may also be administered as a longer term treatment, if the allergen cannot be removed from the dog’s environment.

The dog may discontinue the treatment if the allergen has been removed from his environment. However, it may happen that the dog develops allergic dermatitis to other factors as well, as allergies are a reaction of a weakened immune system.

The dog should also get an anti inflammatory shampoo or soap and you should always make sure to use products the dog is not allergic to.

If the dog is allergic to a food, the dog will have to follow a different diet for the rest of his life and the culprit allergen will have to be avoided.

Supplements can also be added to the dog’s diet, as these can strengthen the immune system. Fatty acids and vitamin E supplements are recommended.