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Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Skin Allergies

Effects of Skin Allergies – From the Dog’s Point of View

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 inciting allergen is. Most dogs with severe skin allergies are itchy regardless of the season and eventually suffer patchy hair loss as well. Because skin is the largest organ in a dog’s body, allergic skin reactions usually are extremely uncomfortable and cause widespread pain.

Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Dogs – What the Owner Sees

Owners of dogs with allergic skin reactions to something that they eat, inhale or otherwise come into contact with may notice one or more of the following clinical signs:

  • Licking, scratching, biting and otherwise bothering areas of skin; may be relentless and appear random
  • Red patches on the skin
  • Skin sores and wounds; may be weeping or oozing; may be infected and draining pus
  • Scratching at the inner and outer ear flaps; may have sores, rashes and/or infection
  • Vomiting (chronic or intermittent)
  • Diarrhea (chronic or intermittent)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness; lethargy; depression
  • Swollen or red eyes; eye infections; abnormal eye discharge; crustiness
  • Weeping sores/hot spots; frequently on the face, between the toe pads, on the genital or flank areas; in the axial area (behind the front legs; the “armpits”) and/or and over the base of the tail

Dogs at Increased Risk

Allergic skin reactions can develop in any breed of dog, of either sex and at any age. However, some breeds do seem to have a greater chance of developing skin allergies, especially those with pronounced skin folds such as the English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Chinese Shar-Pei, Neapolitan Mastiff, Boxer and Pug. Other predisposed breeds may include Cairn Terriers, Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Wire-Haired Fox Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Dalmatians, English Setters, Irish Setters, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Miniature Schnauzers. Dogs living in hot, humid climates also are predisposed to developing allergic reactions that target their skin. Of course, dogs with flea bite hypersensitivity are at great risk of developing associated skin allergies if they are kept in indoor or outdoor environments where they are exposed to fleas. Similarly, dogs with skin problems from food allergies are at increased risk of having those problems if they continue to be fed the offending food ingredient.

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