Itching & Licking? How Allergies Affect Dogs' Skin

Now that summer is in full swing, my dog friends and I have started to notice that our skin has been really itchy and irritated. We’ve been scratching all over and shaking our heads, but it doesn’t seem to help. My mom, Tonya, got worried, so she did some research as to what could be causing all these skin conditions. The culprit? ALLERGIES!

She found that allergies in dogs most often affect our skin. While human allergy symptoms usually show up as sneezing and watery eyes, for dogs, most allergies affect the skin. We itch, bite, and rub our faces and torsos like crazy! This causes pain to our skin, hot spots (painful sores), and even hair loss. Ruff!

When dogs experience an allergic reaction, it’s frustrating for us AND our humans! The biggest problem is figuring out what exactly is causing the itching. Just because we’re scratching doesn’t mean the allergy is caused by something external or on the skin itself. The skin is simply exhibiting the most signs of the allergen irritant.

There are four main types of allergies:
Flea bite dermatitis: Dogs can be allergic to flea saliva from a bite.

Food allergies: Many dogs are allergic to beef, dairy, chicken, soy, grains, and dozens of other common ingredients in our food.

Contact allergy: Contact allergens can include carpet chemicals, laundry detergent, shampoo, or anything that comes into contact with our skin.

Environmental allergy: This includes seasonal allergies, inhalant allergies, airborne allergies, etc.

Any of these forms of allergies in dogs can cause skin problems, also called allergic dermatitis.

Allergies in dogs cause symptoms from diarrhea to scratchy skin, depending on the type of allergy. Common skin problems can result if allergies go untreated, including:
Hair loss
Discolored skin
Hot spots

Without treating the underlying allergy, dog’s skin problems can worsen and be very painful. Dog parents should call to schedule an appointment with the vet if we display these common symptoms of allergies BEFORE the skin becomes too inflamed.

Our veterinarian can diagnose the specific allergy type and begin treatment right away. Determining the allergens that are causing the skin issues could rely on blood, hair, and saliva tests, along with an elimination diet if the vet suspects a food allergy.

A dog with allergies may have a combination of allergic triggers and symptoms. Therefore, treatment usually includes multiple approaches.

Medications: Prescription medications for the suppression of the allergic reaction are helpful. I’ve tried both Apoquel and Cytopoint, and they have been so helpful. Certain antihistamines may help, but humans need to consult the veterinarian before administering any over the counter products for our safety.

Supplements: Supplements are helpful in soothing the itchiness and dryness of allergic symptoms. These include Omega Fatty Acids, Probiotics, L-theanine, and Magnesium. The Hipster Hound carries a variety of supplements here.

Shampoos & Sprays: Pet parents can easily switch to hypoallergenic shampoos that are formulated for sensitive skin and allergies. There are wonderful, soothing skin sprays for itchiness on the market, too. The Hipster Hound can help guide humans on which product is best for their pups.

Diet: Our diet plays a strong role in reducing the symptoms of allergies. Isolating the cause of allergies will inform what foods we should and should not eat. There are several prescription and commercial diets specially formulated for dogs with allergies. The Hipster Hound sells a variety of limited ingredient dog foods and treats. My sister, Daisy, has food allergies so severe that she vomits A LOT! My mom found that a grain-free diet was best for her, but every dog is different.


Rex, The Original Hipster Hound

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