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How to help a Dog With Allergic Dermatitis

Our veterinarians in Ketchum can assist with allergic dermatitis in cats and dogs. This condition causes itchiness rather than sneezing, which is common in human allergies. Our vets will discuss symptoms and suitable treatment options with you.

What is allergic dermatitis (hot spots) on dogs?

Allergic dermatitis is one of the most common skin irritations in dogs and cats. When pets experience "hot spots" or allergic dermatitis, their skin barrier is damaged, 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 exposed to 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 instead experience itchiness. 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.

Are there different types of allergic dermatitis?

Various types of dermatitis can affect dogs, such as atopic dermatitis, flea allergy dermatitis, and food allergy dermatitis. Although each type may have different triggers and symptoms, they all share the characteristic of causing skin inflammation and discomfort in dogs.

Causes of Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs

Allergic dermatitis in dogs may arise from various factors such as exposure to environmental allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold, flea bites, certain foods, or contact with irritating substances such as chemicals or fabrics. Identifying 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 may be dry, crusty, or oily, depending on 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 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: Atopic dermatitis caused by food reactions can be cured, but if it's caused by airborne substances, it cannot, although it can be controlled with medication in most cases. Certain types of steroids, which are highly effective anti-inflammatory and anti-itch medications, are used to treat atopic dermatitis. In addition to steroids, antifungal drugs are also used to treat this condition, as they help eliminate yeast infections. Antihistamines, which are commonly used to treat allergies in humans, are another medication used to treat allergic dermatitis.

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: 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.

Managing allergic dermatitis in dogs can be daunting, but with the right knowledge, proactive care, and guidance from a veterinarian, you can help your furry friend find relief and live a happier, healthier life free from the discomfort of allergic skin reactions.

Acupuncture Therapy To Treat Dogs Allergic Dermatitis at Sun Valley Animal Center

Many dogs suffering from allergic dermatitis can benefit from veterinary acupuncture therapy. This method of Chinese medicine involves inserting small needles into specific locations on your pet's body where blood vessels converge with nerves, known as meridians.

By promoting blood flow and circulation along these meridians, acupuncture can support the nervous system and aid in healing while reducing pain and itching caused by allergies.

This therapy has proven effective in treating hot spots, granulomas, and other skin conditions in dogs. 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 suspect your dog has allergic dermatitis, contact your Sun Valley Animal Center vets today for treatment options.

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Sun Valley Animal Center is accepting new patients at our two convenient locations! Our vets are passionate about the health of our Valley's pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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