Determining Why Your Dog Has a Rash

As a pet owner, you'll want to learn how to diagnose why your dog has a rash. Discover the most common rashes and their symptoms, and find out how to tell if veterinary treatment is necessary or if you can treat the rash at home.

Research finds dog skin allergies are a common complaint among pet owners. Approximately two percent of all dogs develop rashes at some point in their life. Most dog allergies show up as itching skin, and the obvious appearance that the dog has a rash. Runny noses and congestion are not as common in dogs as they are in humans. Understanding different dog allergies can help you diagnose why your dog has a rash.

4 Types of Dog Allergies

There are four types of allergies triggering when a dog has a rash. They include:

Contact allergies can be difficult to diagnose. They occur any time a dog's skin comes into contact with an irritant. It might be a cleaning product on your carpeting or plant oils from outside.

Flea allergy dermatitis is easier to diagnose. You'll see fleas, ticks or other biting insects on your pet's skin.

Food allergies take a lot of time to uncover. There are many ingredients in dog foods that will affect some dogs and not others. Trying a limited ingredient diet, such as those offered by Natural Balance, can help rule out potential food allergens.

Inhaled allergens are things your dog breathes in. Pollen from outside, mold spores and dust mites are common inhaled allergens.

Hives on Dogs

Hives typically appear on a dog's face, especially around the eyes, within half an hour of contact with an allergen. Be aware, however, that hives are not limited to the face. Benadryl can help reduce the itchy, red skin, but you must find out what caused the allergic reaction.

To diagnose the allergen, consider your dog's actions in the last hour. If he's had a bath, it might be the shampoo. If your dog just ate a meal, grab the food ingredient label and see if there is something new in the food. Switching to a new food with no grains may help. Exposure to pollens outside can also cause hives. Your vet may be able to run allergy tests to attempt to pinpoint the exact pollen allergen.

Hot Spots

Hot spots, also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis, are a skin infection where bacteria grows out of control. Typically the dog has a rash that is round and extremely red. It may develop pus and lead to hair loss.

Hot spots can be caused by matted hair, moisture trapped against the skin or allergies. If allergies are expected, herbal shampoos can help remove allergens from the skin. If the hot spots appear frequently, antihistamines may help. Talk to your vet about proper dosing.

Treating hot spots should involve shaving the hair around the hot spot and using an antiseptic wash a couple of times a day. Keep the hot spot uncovered. Ointments can trap bacteria against the skin. If the dog is licking the hot spot, you may need to put on an Elizabethan collar to allow it the skin to heal. If this doesn't help the hot spot clear up, contact your veterinarian for antibiotics.