Dog ShampooMany dogs are allergic to shampoos that contain soap or fragrance. If you don't want to end up with an itchy pet, consider using a soap-free, hypoallergenic shampoo when bathing your dog. Hypoallergenic shampoos containing oatmeal and aloe vera will help soothe and condition the coat and skin of allergic dogs.


Vet Solutions Aloe and Oatmeal Shampoo

Soap Free with Moisturizers

Aloe and Oatmeal Shampoo


Frontline for Dogs

Flea & Tick Treatment

Frontline for Dogs
Discount Pet Meds

Did you know that allergies are the most common cause of itching and skin problems in dogs?

Allergies in Dogs

Like people, dogs can suffer from allergies. Allergies, in fact, are one of the most common conditions affecting dogs. While allergies may not seem to be a serious health problem, they are much more than just a little annoyance. They can make a dog miserable and sick, and with no know cure, treatment is focused on prevention and management of the symptoms.

Most allergies in dogs result in intense skin irritation and uncontrollable itching. In an effort to find relief, a dog will persistently lick, scratch, and chew his skin, even to the point of causing sores and blisters on the body. While skin problems are one of the primary reasons why dogs visit the veterinarian, many dog owners are surprised to find out that an allergy is to blame.

What are allergies?

An allergy is a disorder of the immune system in which the body has a hypersensitive reaction to a substance that is normally harmless to other dogs. The substance causing the reaction is known as an allergen. It is not that the substance in itself is harmful, it is just that some immune systems overreact to certain allergens. It is possible for a dog to be affected by more than one type of allergy.

Symptoms of Dog Allergies

When an allergic reaction occurs, the most common symptom is intense itching. The itching may be limited to one area of the dog (localized) or felt all over the dog (generalized). Allergies may also affect the respiratory system (coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and nasal or eye discharge) or upset the digestive tract (vomiting or diarrhea).

Types of Dog Allergies

There are three primary types of allergies in dogs:

  • Flea allergy
  • Inhalant allergy (atopy)
  • Food allergy

Two other types of allergies that affect dogs, though not common, are bacterial allergy and contact allergy.

Flea Allergy

Flea allergy, also known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) or "flea bite hypersensitivity," is a skin disease caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva. It is a common condition in dogs. Fleas are known to irritate normal dogs to some degree, but in allergic dogs just one flea bite can trigger itching so intense that a dog will severely chew and bite their backs, legs, bellies or tails, trying to find relief. This often leads to "hot spots," or localized areas of hair loss, open sores or scabs on the skin, and skin infection.

If your dog has a flea allergy, the most important treatment is flea prevention. This will involve using a an effective flea control product on your dog as well as treating the flea population around the home and yard. Your veterinarian can recommend the right product for your dog.

In some dogs, treatment may also involve corticosteroids, antihistamines, and essential fatty acids to block the irritation and bring relief. Warm water baths and anti-itching shampoos and conditioners may also relieve the irritation. If your dog develops an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed as well. Your veterinarian will advise on the best course of treatment for your dog.

Inhalant Allergy

Inhalant allergy, also called atopy or environmental allergy, is an allergic reaction to something that is inhaled. Dogs may be allergic to all the same airborne allergens that affect humans, including pollens, molds, mildew, house dust mites, and animal dander (skin or hair particles). In humans, an inhalant allergy usually results in respiratory problems, or "hay fever." In dogs, however, the reaction to inhaled allergens is usually severe and generalized itching.

Inhalant allergies are not only the most common type of allergies in dogs, but also the most common cause of itching in dogs. Depending on the allergen, itching may occur seasonally (if the allergy is due to a pollen) or year round (if caused by molds, mildew, house dust mites, and animal dander). Constant scratching may lead to hair loss and skin infections.

There are several approaches that can be taken to reduce irritation and scratching in dogs with an inhalant allergy:

  • Anti-itch therapy, including the use of steroids (cortisone), antihistamines, and fatty acid supplementation, is effective at blocking the allergic reaction in most cases.
  • Shampoo therapy, that is frequent baths with a hypoallergenic or medicated shampoo, may help remove allergens from the skin and coat and provide some temporary relief.
  • Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, uses a series of injections to gradually accustom the dog’s system to the allergen(s) causing the problem. This approach varies in effectiveness, but helps about 75% of the dogs find excellent to moderate relief.
  • Limiting exposure, with frequent cleaning and vacuuming of the dogs environment to remove or reduce the substance that triggers the allergy.
  • Preventing scratching, in mild cases, such as seasonal allergies, with an Elizabethan collar, T-shirt, or socks, can reduce skin irritation.

Food Allergy

Food allergy is an allergic reaction to one or more ingredients in a dog’s food. Dogs are usually not born with food allergies, but for unknown reasons, some dogs either react to a new diet or develop an allergic reaction to foods they have eaten for a long time. Common food allergens include beef, pork, chicken, turkey, wheat, corn, soya, and eggs. The most common symptoms of a food allergy in dogs is itching, licking, or chewing, but may also cause ear infections, diarrhea and other digestive disorders, and respiratory distress.

The best way to treat a food allergy is to carefully monitor the dogs diet and avoid foods that cause an allergic reaction. If testing is necessary to determine the allergen, the veterinarian will put the dog on a special hypoallergenic diet. As it takes at least 8 weeks for all food products to get out of the dogs system, the diet must be strictly followed for 8-12 weeks or more. This includes discontinuing all other food sources, including table food, treats, vitamins, and certain types of chewable heartworm preventives. Once the food allergen is determined, it should be permanently removed from the dog’s diet.

In rare cases, antihistamines and corticosteroids may be prescribed for a dog with a food allergy.

Managing Allergies in Dogs

The most effective way to manage allergies in dogs is to prevent an allergic reaction. While allergies cannot be prevented, allergic reactions can be limited by avoiding the allergen. No matter what type of allergy affects your dog, preventing exposure to the allergen that triggers the allergic reaction will minimize the symptoms and help to keep your dog healthy.