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How to Help a Dog With Allergic Dermatitis

If your dog is suffering from allergic dermatitis, there are several ways you can help alleviate their symptoms and improve their quality of life. From identifying and removing the allergen to consulting with our Cordova veterinarian for proper treatment options for your dog's skin allergies, taking proactive steps can make a significant difference in managing your dog's condition.

What is allergic dermatitis (hot spots) on dogs?

Allergic dermatitis is among the most common skin irritations in dogs and cats. When pets experience "hot spots" or allergic dermatitis, there is damage to the skin barrier, leading to inflammation, redness, dryness, bumps, and itching.

Atopic dermatitis is an itchy skin disease affecting dogs and cats. In this condition, pets have allergic reactions when they inhale airborne substances like pollen or house dust, or when they ingest substances they are sensitive to.

This allergic reaction prompts pets to scratch, rub, lick, or bite. Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not often sneeze, but they do feel itchy.
Pets with atopic dermatitis are prone to secondary skin infections, ear infections, and yeast infections, and they may also have sensitive skin. Any skin infection or fleas can exacerbate the allergic condition and cause flare-ups.

If this occurs, please contact our veterinary dermatologist for a consultation.

Are there different types of allergic dermatitis?

Various types of allergic dermatitis can affect dogs, including atopic dermatitis, flea allergy dermatitis, and food allergy dermatitis. Each type may have distinct triggers and symptoms, but they all share the common characteristic of causing skin inflammation and discomfort.

Causes of Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

Allergic dermatitis in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including environmental allergens like pollen, mold, and dust mites, flea bites, certain foods, and even contact with irritating substances like chemicals or fabrics.

Understanding the specific triggers for your dog's allergic reactions can help manage the condition effectively.

Symptoms of Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

Recognizing allergic dermatitis in your dog involves observing symptoms such as:

  • Rubbing their body on the ground or against furniture, for example.
  • Licking themselves
  • Chewing/ Biting themselves
  • Scratch at their feet, flanks, ears, armpits, or groin, causing patchy or inconsistent hair loss and reddening and thickening of the skin.
  • The skin itself may be dry and crusty or oily depending upon the dog. 
  • Dogs may also rub their face on the carpet; ear flaps may become red and hot. Because the wax-producing glands of the ear overproduce as a response to the allergy, they get bacterial and yeast (Malassezia ) infections of the ear.

Treatment for Allergic Dermatitis

Treatment in dogs typically involves a multifaceted approach aimed at relieving symptoms and addressing the underlying cause of the allergy. Your veterinarian may recommend various strategies, including:

Medication: Allergic (Atopic) dermatitis due to food reactions can be cured, but those due to airborne substances cannot, although they can be controlled with medication in most cases. Some types of steroids are used for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. They are very effective anti-inflammatory, anti-itch medications. Antifungal medications are also used to treat this condition as they help with yeast infections. Antihistamines are another medication used to treat allergic dermatitis, similar to their use in humans.

Flea Control:  Maintaining a flea control regime is essential for dogs or cats with this problem. 

Supplements: Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acid supplements improve overall skin health, serving as natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidative agents.

Environmental Control: Control: If you know what is causing your pet's allergic dermatitis, avoiding it altogether is best for your dog or cat.

Dietary Management: In cases of food allergy dermatitis, switching to a hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet may be necessary to identify and eliminate the offending allergen.

Topical Treatments: Topical creams, sprays, or shampoos containing soothing ingredients like oatmeal or aloe vera can help calm irritated skin.

Hygiene and Grooming:  Regular bathing with hypoallergenic shampoos and keeping your dog's coat clean can help reduce allergen exposure and prevent secondary infections.

Allergic dermatitis in dogs can be difficult to treat, but with proper understanding, proactive care, and guidance from your dermatologist veterinarian, you can help your furry friend find relief and live a happier, healthier life free of the discomfort of allergic skin reactions.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you think your dog is suffering from allergic dermatitis, contact Memphis Veterinary Specialists today for an appointment.

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