Updated: Jun 11
Suffering from allergies is enough to get even the most enthusiastic dog down. Look for itchy skin, incessant paw licking – even sneezing and an (extra) wet nose. Pretty common. Completely natural. Unbelievably annoying.
Watching your dog itch and scratch themselves raw can be very stressful. Skin allergies are tricky and they aren’t the most fun to deal with. We’ll walk you through the process of identifying an allergy problem and an appropriate plan for treatment.
What are skin allergies?
Skin allergies are actually fairly common when it comes to dogs. Just like any other kind of allergy, a skin allergy is the immune system’s response to foreign matter that does not mesh with the body. This will cause your dog to excessively scratch and/or groom themselves in response to the allergen.
Knowing that your dog has skin allergies isn’t always an obvious thing. Dogs are wonderful, but they cannot speak to us and say, “I think that tasty dandelion I ate outside is irritating my skin! I’m having an allergic reaction!” They’re probably thinking something along those lines, but they have no way to really tell us.
Fortunately for us beloved dog owners, we can identify skin allergies by paying attention to our dog’s behaviour. The most obvious sign of a skin allergy is the scratching and chewing of irritated areas – paws, stomach, head and legs.
Skin allergies are really uncomfortable for dogs, so they turn to grooming and scratching as a way of attempting to ease the discomfort. With more serious reactions, dogs can lose hair or overgroom, which can lead to bald patches, if left untreated for too long. Keep an eye out for coughing or sneezing as these symptoms could be due to respiratory issues related to skin allergies as well.
You should also pay close attention to your dog’s paws as those can be indicative of how your dog is feeling. If your dog has very red paws and persistently licks them, they probably have a skin allergy.
What causes common allergies in dogs?
• Chicken (the most common)
• Grains (wheat, gluten)
• Grass • Pollen (seasonal)
Symptoms of allergies
If you think your dog may have allergies, these are the symptoms to watch out for:
One of the most visible symptoms of dog allergies is skin problems which can cause areas of a dog’s skin to become inflamed and itchy. This can cause discomfort for your fluff ball and if you notice your dog is scratching a certain spot a lot, be sure to check if the skin is inflamed because of an allergy.
Food allergies particularly can cause stomach related symptoms (chicken can be a big culprit). However, sometimes any allergy can affect your dog’s tummy. You should lookout for signs of vomiting or diarrhea that can’t be explained by anything else they may have eaten, as this can be a sign that your dog has an allergy to something.
While those are usually the most prominent symptoms, there are some other symptoms that you might notice. These include:
• Scratching excessively
• Excessive sneezing
• Swelling and red, inflammed skin
• Runny ears or eyes
• Licking the same spot obsessively
Unfortunately, skin allergies can be tricky to treat, but with proper care and regular maintenance you can ensure your dog stays healthy. The most effective treatment for skin allergies is to keep them from happening altogether and diet is crucial when it comes to allergies. If you want to stick to kibble, choose ones that are free from grains and fillers.
If you're adding meat to their diet (always a good idea!), stick to red meat (venison, ostrich, turkey) as they are leaner and cause no skin reactions (chicken has been known to aggravate skin allergies).
Adding a Golden Paste to your dog's food will help as turmeric is a very powerful anti-inflammatory and it works wonders! We add it to all our treats.
Typically, a vet will administer antihistamines or corticosteroids. Most of us aren't thrilled with the prospect of pumping prescription meds into our beloved furries for prolonged periods of time. Corticosteroids and antihistamines can have adverse side effects, making the medication not even worth it in the first place – it's literally replacing one problem with another.
While prescription medication certainly does have it's place, a better long-term solution is a natural one. It will take longer than prescription meds to fully work it's magic, but it'll be worth it and your dog will thank you!