Does your dog have skin allergies? Vet Linda with our friends at Pooch & Mutt explains types of common skin allergies and what to do if your dog has itchy skin.
Allergic Dermatitis or ‘Allergic Skin Disease’ (ASD), is a very common condition that affects hundreds of thousands of dogs a year, in the UK alone. As an owner of a dog with ASD, you may have found yourself despairing at what you can do to help alleviate your furry friend's discomfort and frustratingly, the cause of your pet's allergies may not always be clear.
Thankfully, Veterinary Surgeon Dr Linda Simon of Pooch & Mutt is here to share her top tips for detecting and managing symptoms of ASD.
What types of skin allergies are common in dogs?
1. Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Fleas will cause all dogs to itch, however, some dogs have a specific allergy to the saliva of fleas and will experience a more extreme reaction. This extreme reaction can be categorised by: intense itching (particularly over their rump), fur-loss, scabs, red skin and secondary skin infections
Vet Linda recommends: Keeping your dog's flea prevention up to date and feeding a diet rich in ingredients like Omega-rich fish, Biotin and Collagen such as Pooch & Mutts’ new Soft & Shiny range.
Dogs who are suffering from food allergies can get itchy all over their bodies but particularly across their face, paws and belly. Common food allergens include beef, chicken, dairy and beef but dogs, just like humans, can be allergic to any ingredient
Vet Linda recommends: Aiming to feed your dog a grain-free, naturally hypoallergenic diet (like all Pooch & Mutt ranges) and consulting with your vet to establish the root cause of your dog's food allergies
3. Environmental Allergies
Just like us, dogs can be allergic to a range of things found in their environment such as dust mites, pollen and mould. You may notice a seasonal pattern to environmental allergies, much like humans and hay fever.
Vet Linda recommends: Consulting with your vet to establish the source of your pet's allergies and aiming to minimise exposure to environmental allergens
Symptoms of allergic dermatitis tend to develop between six months and six years of age. Pedigree dogs who live indoors are most at risk, but any dog can be affected. Treatment can help to control symptoms, but this is not a condition that can usually be cured.
Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic means a hypersensitive reaction to an allergen (such as dermatitis) that may occur in a part of the body that has not been in direct contact with the offending allergen. So for example, your dog would ideally not be bathing in a tub of wet food, but an ingredient from this food could cause a skin reaction when consumed by a dog with specific food allergies.
It’s important to note that skin allergies in dogs can ‘mimic’ other conditions such as mange (a skin disease caused by mites) or a bacterial skin infection (which can be caused by an underlying immune disorder). That’s why it is so important to book your dog in with your vet if they show signs of skin allergies, to ensure the right diagnosis is reached and the right treatment can begin. This may mean a series of tests, including a skin scrape, skin swab and blood tests.
Symptoms will vary from doggo-patient to doggo-patient but tend to include:
Itchy skin leading to paw licking, face rubbing, skin chewing and scratching
Chronic infections of the ears, skin or anal glandsSkin thickening and darkening (lichenification)
Treating Atopic Dermatitis and Skin Allergies
It’s really important as owners to understand that treatment will not usually result in a cure for your dog's skin problems. However, it’s very possible to manage symptoms and reduce ‘flare-ups’. Your Vet will talk you through the specific test and treatments for your dog, aiming to control symptoms as much as possible. It’s likely you’ll feel like a regular at your local vets as ongoing check-ups and treatment is usually advised.
There is sadly not a ‘one treatment fits all’ for skin allergies so your Vet will likely employ a multi-modal approach where they use a variety of treatments and tactics. Vet Linda states that these can include:
As much as possible, we need to keep our pooch away from what triggers them. We may be able to figure out what this is by performing a hypoallergenic diet trial, noticing seasonal trends and carrying out allergy testing
Medicated washes can help to strip excess yeast and bacteria from the skin
Such as anti-itch medicine to break the itch-scratch cycle and antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections
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Such as Pooch & Mutt’s Salmon Oil which is rich in Omega 3,6 and 9 that helps to lock moisture in the skin, reducing the risk of dry skin and itching
A skin supportive diet such as Pooch & Mutt’s Soft & Shiny kibble which is rich in Omega-rich Herring, Vitamin B rich Biotin and Collagen to help your dog build the foundations for healthier-looking skin
Immunotherapy may be an option for some owners, but this can be expensive and is not guaranteed to work
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The Right Diet Choice
Pooch & Mutts’ brand new Soft & Shiny is a great choice for owners looking to improve their dog's skin & coat health.
This Premium, complete dried food is packed with fresh, functional ingredients to help your dog thrive and improve their coat & skin health. Added Prebiotics and Probiotics ensure a healthy gut microbiome which can work to reduce the symptoms of skin allergies and anecdotal evidence suggests they may help to prevent food allergies from developing in the first place.
Formulated with Collagen (the essential structural protein that helps in the formation of healthy skin); Biotin (an important B vitamin that helps fur growth) and Omega-rich herring, the ingredients in Pooch & Mutts’ Soft & Shiny Dry Food work to strengthen the skin barrier, lock in moisture and reduce any skin flare-ups and minimise ongoing symptoms of Skin Allergies.
Thanks to the limited ingredients that go into the Soft & Shiny range, it can be handy for owners of dogs with food allergies who struggle to find the right protein blend for their pooch. The fish-based protein added to Soft & Shiny is less likely to cause food allergies in dogs than beef or chicken proteins. However, as dogs can react to any ingredient, do double check that this is an appropriate option for your dog if they have known food allergies.
While skin allergies can be difficult to deal with, most dogs have a good prognosis. With the right medical treatment and diet, your dog should be able to lead a normal and happy life.
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