Skin and allergy problems

In dogs, allergies can manifest themselves as skin problems. Some also can cause ear infections. Thyroid disease can contribute to the problem. In turn, auto immune problems can be the seed of all of the above parts of these complex and all too common problems in canines.
Two common allergies types : Inhalant and food/flea types will be discussed.


Does the dog have allergic reactions like scratching, biting, chewing the feet and constant licking? These are symptoms of inhalant allergies. Chronic ear infections may develop. The dog may respond well to symptomatic treatments outlines below, but if not, or if the problem is exceptionally bad, referral to a canine dermatologist for skin testing and if necessary, injections, may be needed for treatment.
Symptomatic treatment includes cool baths with medicated shampoo – only a temporary palliative. Cortispray or Dermacool spray for short periods may help. Allergy injection therapy may help and are used in people with success, they are not rapid acting however. Steroids may be given by the vet, but long term use can affect all body systems and should be avoided. If use is short term, they can be helpful.

Antihistamines can be used safely in dogs : the main side effect is sedation. Commonly used are Tavist, Benadryl, Atarax. Fatty Acids are not harmful and may be helpful. They may not be effective against itching, but work as anti-inflammatory agents. Fish oils, , omega pet, and derm caps are products of this nature.

When you find out what your dog is allergic to, you can attempt to eliminate the allergen from his environment.

Dogs with allergies should not be bred. Allergies are inherited.

Food / Flea allergies

Food sensitivities also involve itchy skin, anal itching, shaking the head, licking paws, diarrhea, occasionally asthma like symptoms, behavioural symptoms or seizures. Frequently people think that their dog may not be allergic to a food ingredient that he has been eating for some time, however, this allergy can develop over time and exposure.

Dogs are frequently allergic to a specific ingredient in a food product. Common allergens are corn, wheat, beef, pork, chicken and milk. Simple diagnosis is to try to eliminate these foods from his diet then introduce a food using lamb and rice with no added foods.

Check the ingredients on the label to be sure that no wheat, corn, soy or beef products or preservatives are added. This may take a few months to effect an improvement.

Flea allergies

Dogs only need to be exposed to one flea bite if they are allergic to produce a reaction. To test for flea allergy, a skin test is done. To treat, a strict flea program must be maintained.

Ackerman, L: Guide to Skin and Haircoat Problems in Dogs. Alpine Pub. 1994 (about $27<