The 3 Most Common Canine Skin Allergies

Canine skin allergies can send your dog into a tailspin of itching, scratching and biting. Some are highly serious and tricky to diagnose. The most common cases are flea, inhalant and food allergies.

Flea Bite Allergy

Dogs are allergic to the proteins in the flea's saliva. Even one bite will cause a skin irritation that can last from 5 to 7 days. Put your dog on a strict flea control regimen since this allergy can cause a serious skin infection if left untreated.

Airborne or Inhalant Allergies (Atopy)

Airborne canine skin allergies are linked to certain breeds. Your dog can get hot spots or severe itching when he breathes in environmental or other substances. The primary airborne allergens are:

  • Dust
  • Plant pollen
  • Molds
  • Feathers
  • Wool

If your dog only gets his symptoms seasonally, it's usually a pollen-based allergy. If he falls sick year-round, it's likely a result of dust or another allergen.

Food Allergies

The biggest culprits causing food allergies are filler ingredients in dog food, beef, dairy products, chicken, chicken eggs, corn and soy. There is no link between food allergies and specific breeds. If you can rule out the two previous forms of allergies, put your dog on an elimination diet for 12 weeks to see what's triggering his reaction. Another option is to take him to the vet for a blood test, such as a RAST (radioallergosorbent test), to evaluate his allergy.

Treatment choices for canine skin allergies:

  • Fatty acid supplements to soothe his itch.
  • Corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation that causes itching; use sparingly since this medication has side effects.
  • Antihistamines: 1 to 3 ml per pound.
  • Allergy shots for bad skin damage, hair loss or infections.
  • Cool bath to ease his symptoms: do not use warm or hot water, which can cause further irritation.
  • Commercially prepared diets or homemade meals.