How to Treat Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

Dermatitis in dogs can be triggered by several factors: fleas and scratching, contact with chemicals and other substances that are bad for the skin, nutrition, skin disorders or allergens. Allergic dermatitis, also known as atopic dermatitis or canine atopy is triggered by allergic reactions to different substances from the environment.  Allergic dermatitis causes itchy skin and excessive scratching which may lead to further infections. Diagnosing and treating allergic dermatitis are crucial for the well being of your dog.

How to Treat Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

The treatment for allergic dermatitis in dogs involves both treating the symptoms as well as the allergy that triggered the skin condition. If possible, you should identify the allergen which is responsible for the reaction and restrict the dog’s access to it.

Dogs can be allergic to a lot of substances in the environment:

  • Mold spores
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Plastic
  • Chemical substances
  • Synthetic or natural fibers
  • Plants
  • Medication
  • Food.

However, in some cases, dogs can have allergies to certain allergens which you cannot remove.

Allergies are not curable, but they can be controlled with treatment. The medication used to treat allergies includes antihistamines and corticosteroids.

  • Cortisone is often used for allergic dermatitis since it also helps treating the symptoms. Corticosteroids have side effects and they should be administered only for short season allergies.
  • Antihistamines are efficient in some cases because they fight the histamines produced by the immune system. Histamines are responsible for the dog’s symptoms.

Topical remedies are also recommended. There are a series of products you can apply on your dog’s skin to reduce the itchiness and soreness: ointments, shampoos, gels and sprays.

Excessive scratching can cause secondary bacterial infections, and they have to be treated. Your veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics for the infection and start the corticosteroids treatment only after the infection is treated.

Symptoms of Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

If your dog suffers from allergic dermatitis, he will exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Severe itchiness
  • Excessive scratching
  • Red, irritated skin and sores
  • Running nose
  • Watery eyes

If you suspect your dog is allergic, or if you spot any type of abnormality on his skin, you should consult your veterinarian and have the disease diagnosed correctly. Starting the treatment is important since it prevents the development of further secondary skin disorders and structural changes in the skin, which can lead to hyper-pigmentation.

Prevention of Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

Since allergic dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction, the best way to prevent it is to keep your pet away from the irritant.

You can easily minimize exposure if your dog is allergic to feathers, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, cigarette smoke or other substances that can be avoided.

You can also apply some preventative routines such as rinsing your dog’s feet when he returns from playing outside, and limiting the number of house plants you own.

Clean and dust your home often.

Fleas are also a common source of allergy in dogs, so you should control flea infestation.