Skin Allergies in Dogs
Definition of Skin Allergies
Skin allergies, also known as skin hypersensitivity reactions, happen when the immune system overreacts to something in the environment, causing some disorder or disruption of the skin. The offending substance is called an “allergen.” Dogs come into contact with allergens in several ways: they swallow them (ingestion/food allergies), smell or breathe them (inhalation allergies; atopy) and touch them (contact allergies). Different dogs react to different allergens in different ways. For example, one dog might be severely allergic to dust mites, but its housemates or littermates may not even react to these pests. The most common cause of skin allergies in companion dogs is contact with the saliva of fleas. When fleas feed on a dog, they bite through its skin and ingest its blood. When they finish their meal, they inject saliva into the bite wound, which causes many dogs to become itchy and develop raised red bumps on their skin.
Almost anything in a dog’s diet or environment can cause an allergic reaction that adversely affects its skin, depending on the dog’s particular genetic and immunological makeup. The triggering substance is called an allergen. Although most dog owners think of these skin reactions as skin allergies, they really are overreactions - or highly specific and sensitized reactions - by the animal’s immune system to repeated exposures to the allergen. This hypersensitivity causes varying degrees of
The phrase “skin allergy” is commonly used to refer to an animal’s adverse skin reaction to something in its diet or environment. The offending substance is called an allergen. The most common result of skin allergies in domestic dogs is unrelenting itchiness. This inevitably is accompanied by licking, scratching, biting and otherwise bothering the itchy areas. Affected animals may become frantic, distraught, distracted or depressed as a result of their discomfort, regardless of what the
The initial veterinary evaluation of any dog with a history of mild to intense skin itchiness, scratching and hair loss will be the same. The vet will take a complete oral history from the dog’s owner, focusing on:The veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of the itchy dog. She will pay particular attention to its skin, looking carefully for any evidence of fleas, ticks or other skin-dwelling bugs. She will assess areas of redness,
What we commonly call skin allergies actually are the end result of an immunological overreaction to some allergen in the environment that leads to a mild, moderate or severe adverse skin response. The goals of treating canine skin allergies are to identify and eliminate - or at least minimize and manage - exposure to the offending allergen(s), relieve the dog’s distress and restore its comfortable quality of life.Effective treatment of allergic skin reactions depends on