Doggie Dermatology: Understanding the Different Types of Skin Allergies in Canine

Are you now the owner of a dog or have you ever been the owner of one? If so, you undoubtedly appreciate the benefits of owning a dog. However, just like everything else, having a dog might also require a lot of care and treatment. This article will go through the various dog skin allergies.

The worst is allergies! Sneezing, sniffling, and stuffy nose. Your dog often does not experience the same symptoms as you do when you have allergies. When a dog has allergies, his skin frequently becomes irritated and itchy because of environmental allergens. And your dog may have a variety of additional problems because of this response.

What Are Canine Skin Allergies?

Atopic dermatitis, sometimes known as allergic dermatitis or simply “atopy,” is the most prevalent canine skin allergy. A dog’s overactive immune system can cause allergic dermatitis, an inflammatory, persistent skin condition.

It’s interesting to note that many dogs who experience skin allergies have a genetic propensity to do so. It’s common for dogs to start exhibiting skin allergy symptoms before the age of 7, but it’s not mandatory that they will develop symptoms. Dogs can experience skin allergies at any age, just like people. In fact, as a dog ages, many allergies get worse.

What Dog Breeds Are Prone to Canine Skin Allergies?

Skin allergies may not commonly occur in all dog breeds. Beagles, Bulldogs, Dalmatians, English and Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, Labradoodles and Goldendoodles, Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Schnauzers, most terriers, Old English Sheepdogs, and Pugs are a few breeds that are more prone to skin allergies.

Dogs frequently require the care of a veterinarian due to a range of various skin disorders and allergies. Here are the top few skin issues that affect dogs:

Types of skin allergies

1. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

The symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis is pretty obvious. It is the most prevalent skin condition in dogs and is brought on by an allergic or hypersensitive reaction to the saliva of a feeding flea. Contrary to common opinion, dogs can experience a response even with just a few fleas on their bodies. In fact, they can acquire FAD.

Flea treatment for dogs

Dogs might experience issues with fleas at any time of the year. The best form of therapy is prevention, which is possible with proper management of skin disease and allergies. Topical steroids, shampoos, or creams containing antibiotics, as well as oral antihistamines, steroids, and antibiotics, can all be used as short-term therapies. Since you don’t want to remove the skin’s oils, especially if you’re using a spot-on flea treatment, use a mild, sulfate-free shampoo made specifically for dogs.

2. Atopic dermatitis (Atopy)

The second most prevalent allergic skin condition in dogs is atopy. It is caused by a general allergic or hypersensitive reaction to an indoor or environmental allergen. Examples include plants, pollen, dust mites, and mould spores. Itching is a side effect of atopy, especially in skin folds like the armpits and flanks. It eventually develops into an infection and widespread dermatitis. Since dogs with this ailment frequently have a genetically inherited skin barrier deficiency, many of these small allergens immediately enter the body through the skin.

How to Treat Atopy in Dogs

Atopic dermatitis requires long-term care because there is no known cure. There are three basic methods to accomplish this:

  • Eliminate the skin’s allergies.
  • Control the infection and swelling.
  • Strengthen the skin’s defenses.

Immunotherapy, skin allergy tests, antihistamines, steroids, and antibiotics are among other most frequently used therapies.

3. Food allergy dermatitis

Compared to FAD (Flea Allergy Dermatitis) or atopy (environmental allergies), this condition, which may also involve dietary intolerances, is significantly less common. It usually begins to develop around the age of one. If you suspect your dog may have a food allergy, it is recommended to undergo a strict food exclusion trial diet for three months. This typically involves feeding your dog a diet consisting of pure proteins from foods they have never consumed before. If the symptoms improve during this period, it is possible that your dog has a food allergy.

To further evaluate, you can reintroduce the normal diet to your dog after the three-month period and observe whether the symptoms return. If they do, it is likely due to a food allergy. The best course of action is to work collaboratively with your veterinarian to identify the specific food causing the allergy. In Australian dogs, the most common allergens are meat, chicken, and wheat.

How to treat dog food allergies

Once you have identified the proteins or foods that your dog is allergic to, the simplest approach is to avoid giving them to your dog altogether. However, in certain cases, adding hydrolyzed proteins to a commercial diet can be considered an alternative solution. This involves breaking down the proteins into smaller components, making them less likely to trigger an allergic response in your dog. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best approach for managing your dog’s food allergies and to discuss the option of incorporating hydrolyzed proteins into their diet.

4. Mange

Mange, a skin ailment often caused by Demodex or Scabies mites, can affect dogs. Demodectic mange is the more prevalent of the two. Demodex mites are naturally found in the majority of dogs and do not cause any difficulties. When a dog’s immune system is impaired, either internally or externally, these mites can multiply, causing hair loss and skin damage. Itching and consequent bacterial infections are common outcomes.

Interestingly, dogs with Demodex mange may not demonstrate scratching behavior at first. Instead, one of the first noticeable signs may be patches of hair loss, particularly on the face. Scabies, on the other hand, is an extremely irritating disease that is generally transmitted by diseased dogs or local fauna such as wombats.

Scabies is a skin condition that is more frequently found in suburban and rural areas. It’s important to know that scabies can be transmitted to humans, unlike Demodex. If you experience itching, it’s crucial to inform your veterinarian promptly.

If you believe your dog has mange, please visit your veterinarian for a complete diagnosis and treatment.

How to treat mange in dogs

The proper parasiticide is used until symptoms go away for both illnesses. It is critical to visit your veterinarian for a precise diagnosis since these mites respond to treatment in very different ways. Before beginning therapy, the veterinarian will perform a skin-scraping operation.

5. Hot spots

Another common skin condition that dogs often experience is hot spots, medically known as traumatic pyodermatitis. Hot spots typically appear as small, moist patches of hair loss on the dog’s skin, causing intense itching. These patches often have a discharge of pus, which can emit an unpleasant odor. Hot spots can be triggered by various factors that irritate your dog’s skin, such as underlying illnesses, wounds, flea bites, and more. The discomfort prompts the dog to chew and gnaw at the affected area, further aggravating the irritation and leading to infection.

The constant chewing and licking contribute to the spread of infection, worsening the condition. It is common for bacterial infections to develop in these open wounds.

How to treat hot spots in dogs

The afflicted region is often clipped and cleaned before a dosage of topical antibiotics is administered. If the condition is severe, your vet may advise you to give your dog oral antibiotics or corticosteroids to aid with the itching and provide them with immediate relief. 

There are several causes of itchy or irritated skin in dogs. Consult your veterinary clinic if your dog’s symptoms continue.

6- Contact Allergies

Contact allergies in dogs occur when the skin comes into direct contact with allergens, which can include certain substances, plants, textiles, or metals. An allergic reaction might occur immediately upon touch or over time. Contact allergies are characterized by localized redness, swelling, hair loss, and itching. If your dog has a contact allergy, the symptoms will usually manifest at the place where the allergen first contacts the skin.

7- Food Allergies

Dogs can experience allergies to certain dietary items, just like people do. For dogs, proteins like beef or chicken, soy, wheat gluten, and other grains are the most typical food allergies. Itchiness (typically on the face), gastrointestinal distress (vomiting and diarrhea), and ear infections are all possible indications of a food allergy.

8- Environmental Allergies

Pollen, dust mites, and mould spores are examples of airborne allergens that contribute to environmental allergies. They are also referred to as atopy or atopic dermatitis. Excessive scratching (sometimes without a visible rash), gnawing and licking of the feet, “hot spots” (areas of wet and damaged skin), and ear infections are symptoms of environmental allergies.


The course of treatment for skin allergies will depend on the underlying cause, although in severe cases, immunotherapy, steroids, or antihistamines may be necessary.

9- Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Another prevalent skin problem is flea allergy dermatitis, commonly referred to as flea bite hypersensitivity, which makes dogs sensitive to the saliva of fleas. When a dog is bitten by a flea, the dog’s body responds to the salivary proteins, which results in severe skin irritation and inflammation. The most typical form of flea allergy in dogs is flea allergy dermatitis, which may be quite painful for the affected animals. While flea-allergic dermatitis can affect any dog, certain breeds are more prone to the ailment than others. These canines include those with sensitive skin and those with short coats, such as Boxers and Bulldogs. Despite the fact that flea allergy dermatitis can happen at any time of year, the spring and summer seasons are when it happens most frequently.

Itching, redness, hair loss, and scabbing are some of the symptoms of flea-allergic dermatitis, which can range in severity from moderate to severe. Dogs who scratch and bite at their sensitive skin may in extreme situations also acquire secondary infections of the skin. Consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and course of treatment if you believe your dog may have flea-allergic dermatitis.


The two main treatments for flea allergy dermatitis are often removing fleas from your dog’s surroundings and avoiding further infestations.

10- Allergies caused by Ticks

Ticks are tiny, blood-sucking parasites that latch onto their host’s skin. Despite being frequently linked to dogs, they can infect humans in addition to other animals. Numerous illnesses, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis, are known to be spread by ticks. Some dogs may also experience an allergic response to them. Itching, biting or chewing at the bite site, hair loss, and red, irritated skin are signs of a tick allergy in dogs. It is crucial to take your dog to the doctor for treatment if they exhibit any of these symptoms. Anaphylactic shock, which can be deadly, can occur as a result of severe tick allergies.


There are several methods for keeping ticks off of your dog. Keep your dog well-groomed, use tick collars or spot-on treatments, and check your dog for ticks after exposing them to grassy or forested areas.

11- Folliculitis

Skin sores, lumps, and scabs are all symptoms of superficial bacterial folliculitis. These skin irregularities are more noticeable in short-haired dogs. The most visible symptoms in longhaired dogs include a dull coat, shedding, and scaly skin beneath the coat. Folliculitis is usually found in conjunction with other skin disorders such as mange, allergies, or trauma. Treatment options include antibacterial ointments, shampoos, and oral medicines.

12- Yeast Infection

Irritated, itchy, or discolored skin are symptoms of Yeast infection. The illness typically affects the feet or ears since yeast can thrive there comfortably.


A topical cream frequently works effectively to treat yeast infections and is simple to identify. Your veterinarian may occasionally recommend oral medications, medicated sprays, or medicated baths.

13- Impetigo

Impetigo is more common in puppies, and it may also be a sign of another skin issue. As with any ailment in young animals, professional care is advised as soon as you detect a problem.

On the dog’s tummy, impetigo lesions might form as blisters that can rupture and scab over.


Dog impetigo can be treated with antibiotics or shampoos, and your veterinarian can do a few tests to identify the current issue.

14- Ringworm

Despite its name, ringworm is really a fungus that is very infectious to both people and other animals. The dog’s head, paws, ears, and front legs are frequent areas where the fungal infection manifests as crusty, round patches. The skin on your dog might also seem swollen and red if they have irritated the region by scratching.


If you see any irritation, you must call your veterinarian right immediately so they may provide a topical therapy to eradicate the fungus and stop it from spreading.


Other signs suggesting an issue with the skin condition include the following symptoms:

  • Skin Sores
  • Skin lesions
  • Dry skin/flaky skin/scaly skin
  • Lumps
  • Rashes
  • Redness
  • Bumps
  • Dandruff
  • Intense itching
  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive licking
  • Hair loss/bald patches
  • Acute moist dermatitis


Every dog with a skin allergy requires a somewhat different treatment strategy, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But it’s probable that your veterinarian may advise one or more of the following:

Avoid your dog’s triggers.

If you are aware of your dog’s allergies, it is advisable to attempt to stay as far away from those things as you can. However, there are still a lot of things you can do to lessen the likelihood of an allergic reaction even if you don’t know what your dog is sensitive to:

  • Frequently treat your house and other pets for fleas.
  • When there is a lot of pollen, avoid walking them.
  • Avoid walking them in tall grass (or thoroughly wash them after).
  • Keep aerosols, sprays, fragrances, and air fresheners out of the house.
  • Regularly dust and hoover.
  • Feed them a special diet made for animals with sensitive skin, as advised by your veterinarian.

Anti-itch medication

Several drugs, including:

  • Steroid pills and spray (including Prednisolone tablets, Medrone tablets, and Cortavance spray), can be used to lessen itching.
  • Injection of lokovetmab (Cytopoint)
  • Tablets of oclacitinib (Apoquel)

Your veterinarian will prescribe a specific prescription based on your dog’s symptoms, how long they need to be treated for, and your budget.

Supplements, shampoos, and antihistamines

The following is beneficial for most dogs with skin allergies:

  • A vital fatty acid-containing skin supplement.
  • Daily antihistamines
  • A topical emollient shampoo (for soothing the skin)

It’s crucial to be aware that while these treatments can be helpful when taken in conjunction with other therapies (and can lower the number of additional drugs required), they are unlikely to be able to solve the issue on their own.


If your dog has undergone allergy testing, immunotherapy may be used to desensitize them to their triggers. Immunotherapy entails giving your dog a very little dose of the substance to which they are allergic to acclimatize their body to it. The injections often need to be taken for a few years (sometimes for the rest of one’s life) and work gradually over time. Unfortunately, not all dogs respond to immunotherapy, and many still require medication to manage their symptoms. Immunotherapies cannot be used to treat all forms of allergies.

Other therapies

  • If your dog has acquired a skin or ear infection, antibiotics may be required.
  • If your dog is prone to ear issues, regular ear cleaning may be required.

Bottom line

Dog skin allergies are a common issue, surrounding a range of allergic reactions that can cause irritation and discomfort in dogs. Identifying the specific allergens that trigger a dog’s skin allergies is crucial for effective management and treatment, as different dogs may have different sensitivities.