Contact Dermatitis in Dogs Explained

Dermatitis in dogs is a canine skin infection which may be either seasonal or chronic. It's caused when your pet's skin comes in contact with allergens in the environment and erupts or becomes inflamed. Although canine atopy is fairly common in many pets, genetic factors and immune system disorders make certain dogs more susceptible to dermatitis. The symptoms of dermatitis may be seen within 48 hours of exposure to the allergens.

Contact Dermatitis Symptoms

  • Itching
  • Redness on the skin
  • Blisters
  • Hair fall
  • Lesions or ulcers on the skin
  • Runny eyes and nose

Diagnosis of Contact Dermatitis in Dogs

The most common areas affected by dermatitis are the paws, legs and face of the dog. Before prescribing medication, the vet will conduct tests to diagnose canine dermatitis. A skin scraping test will rule out diseases such as mange and fungal infections. The vet will also make note of the medications, ointments and shampoos that are used on your pet. Very often dogs are allergic to substances in home cleaning solutions or deodorizers.

Allergies could also be seasonal. Such allergies are known to subside in a few months. During the diagnosis of contact dermatitis, the vet may conduct a patch test to find the substance that causes the allergy in your pet.

How Is a Patch Test Conducted?

An area of the skin around the lateral chest wall is groomed a day before the test. The next day a small amount of substance, suspected to be an allergen is placed on gauze and taped to the dog's skin. If the pet is allergic to the substance, contact dermatitis rash will be seen within 2 to 5 days.

Canine Contact Dermatitis Treatment

The treatment involves keeping your pet in a clean confined area until the dermatitis subsides. Along with this, the vet will prescribe medicines that contain active ingredient methylprednisolone. Anti-inflammatory drugs and antihistamines are also used to treat canine contact dermatitis.

Commercially Available Drugs for Allergies

  • Dexamethasone Tablets
  • Pednisolone
  • Triamcinolone
  • Chlorpheniramine

Certain drugs work by blocking the effects of histamine in the body. It's common for dogs to suffer from bacterial skin infections along with contact dermatitis. If the dermatitis is very severe the vet will prescribe antibiotics for nearly 4 weeks. Discontinue shampoos or medicines that cause allergic reactions in your pet. During and after the treatment, it's necessary to keep known allergic substances away from your dog. Hyposensatization or allergy shots aren't recommended as they don't work as effectively as oral medication. It's important to read and follow package instructions before you administer a dose.

Known Side Effects of Allergy Medicines

  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Water retention
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain
  • Increased thirst and hunger

Some drugs cannot be used in combination with other medications. Exert caution while administering allergy medication to pets with underlying illnesses. If you notice sudden behavior changes or excessive vomiting seek prompt medical help.