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Skin Allergies: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Skin Allergies

Did you know that one in seven dogs suffers from some form of allergy? 

Skin allergies (aka: atopic allergies or allergic dermatitis) are common, and generally they’re nothing to worry about. Still, it’s worth a trip to the vet to rule out any other more serious skin conditions. 

Skin Allergy Causes

More often than not, allergies that affect the skin are caused by either diet or something your pet has come into contact with, like flowers or carpet cleaner. Sometimes it’s as simple as rolling in the grass. 

The most common causes of skin allergies are:

  • Flea allergy dermatitis (an allergy to flea saliva)
  • Food allergies (yep, just like humans!)
  • Environmental allergens (like pollen)

Skin Allergy Symptoms

Potential symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:

  • Itchiness
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Itchy ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Constant licking or chewing

Treating Skin Allergies at Home

Herbal teas, like green and chamomile, act as a natural antiseptic. Steep tea in 1 cup of hot water for 3 minutes then let it cool. Apply small amounts to the affected areas of the skin once a day until symptoms subside. 

Oatmeal is found in many types of dog shampoos, and for good reason! It soothes dry, itchy skin fast. Grind up plain oatmeal and sprinkle into his bath, or add a little water in a bowl to make a paste and apply to affected areas. 

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) offers antiseptic and antifungal properties that quickly relieve skin allergy symptoms. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of water and ACV then apply where needed. This solution also works as a foot soak.

You can also find anti-allergy wipes and shampoos in most pet stores and vet clinics. 

Treating Skin Allergies at the Vet

Sometimes pet allergies need a helping hand from your vet. In those cases, your vet may prescribe an allergy relief medication to help prevent scratching and make your pet more comfortable.

Common prescriptions include:

Over-the-counter antihistamines:

  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)
  • Claritin (loratadine) 

More allergy medications:

  • Apoquel, an oral medication used for dogs with allergic dermatitis
  • Atopica (cyclosporine) treats atopic dermatitis in dogs
  • Prednisone, processed through the liver, is an oral corticosteroid intended for short-term use in both dogs and cats
  • Prednisolone is the active metabolite of prednisone; it is not processed through the liver
  • Animax ointment, which combines a corticosteroid, an antifungal and an antibiotic
  • GentaSpray combines an antibiotic and a steroid to reduce inflammation

Talk to your vet about potentially dangerous side effects of prescription medication ingredients.

Preventing Skin Allergies

Studies have shown that fish oil supplements, like PureForm’s Omega3, help to reduce inflammation caused by skin allergies. When you reduce the inflammation, you relieve the itch. When you relieve the itch, you stop the scratching, and ultimately prevent infection. 

Yogurt helps your pet from the inside out. Skin allergies often begin in the digestive system. Feeding your pet a spoonful of plain, unsweetened yogurt once a week can improve their overall gut health and minimize rashes, hives and other skin allergy symptoms.