Caring for Dogs with Skin Allergies

Dogs with skin allergies are usually very uncomfortable and require some sort of treatment to ease their symptoms. Skin allergies can have three causes—environmental, food or fleas—and the best method to care for your allergic dog depends on which type of allergy he has.

General Allergy Treatment

It's often difficult to diagnose which type of allergy your dog has since all allergies are expressed the same way—through your dog's skin. Often, there is more than one allergen at work, which makes it even harder to treat.

No matter which type of allergy your dog is exhibiting, make him more comfortable by bathing him once a week in a prescription shampoo from your veterinarian or just oatmeal shampoo from the pet store. Let the shampoo sit on the skin for a few minutes to soothe itchiness.

Flea Allergies

With flea allergies, your dog is usually chewing on his sides, feet and stomach area. Flea allergies can cause bites to continue itching up to three weeks, so you may not have seen a flea on your dog in weeks. He can still show symptoms.

This is the easiest of all allergies to treat. Simply treat the fleas. There are many types of flea preventatives that can be given monthly. Clean your house thoroughly to remove flea eggs, which can lie dormant in your carpet for up to a year. Some veterinarians recommend giving flea preventative every three weeks to your flea-allergic dog.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are much harder to diagnose without a food trial in which you take your dog off of all food or treats except one protein source and one vegetable source that he usually doesn't get such as rabbit or duck and potato.

Without that trial, you are just guessing. However, many dogs excessively lick the tops of their feet when experiencing a food allergy and have recurring ear infections. Try modifying your pet's diet. If you notice improvement on a different protein-type, he may have had an allergy.

The problem with this is that many dogs are allergic to carbohydrates or preservatives that are found in almost all food. Then, a diet change won't be that effective unless you move to a homemade diet.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies have the same symptoms as food allergies, except dogs concentrate more on the bottom of their feet and can also focus on other areas of the body. Environmental allergies are diagnosed by elimination. If your dog isn't cured by treating the other two, he probably has environmental allergies.

Since you can't keep him out of the environment, find a way to keep him comfortable. Weekly baths help. Keeping the furniture and carpet clean can help reduce allergens in the house. Wipe him off when he enters from the outside so any pollen that may be on his skin can be removed.

Treat ear infections with ear drops from the veterinarian and flush ears weekly to remove bacteria that may be accumulating. Antihistamines can also be effective with dogs, as they are with humans. Consult your veterinarian about the appropriate dosage.

Working with your veterinarian will mean a faster diagnosis and treatment of allergies, but there are several home remedies that can make your dog more comfortable and improve his quality of life.