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HomePetsDogsComplete Guide To Managing Skin Allergies In Dogs

Complete Guide To Managing Skin Allergies In Dogs

Let’s face it; having a dog can be one of the biggest blessings in life. From having an everyday companion to receiving endless cuddles, there’s nothing quite like having man’s best friend at your side through thick and thin. However, just like humans, dogs are also susceptible to developing various allergies such as food allergies, environmental allergies, and seasonal allergies. This can cause severe irritations in our dogs that can result in hair loss, wounds, scabs, and severe inflammation and should be taken care of as quickly as possible. 

With that said, in today’s article, we’re going to go over a list of common skin allergies in dogs, as well as a list of some of the best ways to treat them holistically alongside a veterinary treatment. Let’s get started. 

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

The first skin allergy in dogs is known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Flea Allergy Dermatitis or FAD is the most common skin disease in dogs and other pets and often comes as a result of your pet’s reaction to flea bites. This is because when a flea bites your dog, it injects saliva into your pet’s skin that contains antigens, which can leave the skin itchy and irritated and can trigger an allergic reaction in some pets.

Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Now, when it comes to the symptoms of FAD, there are a number of symptoms that can range from mild to serious, depending on how bad the dog’s infestation is, as well as its personal sensitivity to it. With that said, a few common symptoms you might notice in your dog if it has FAD include:

  • Red or irritated skin
  • Frequent itching
  • Frequent biting of the skin
  • Missing patches of fur
  • Infected sores or wounds usually on the legs or tail

However, you can also confirm if your dog is experiencing symptoms of FAD by carefully going through your dog’s coat with a flea comb. Fleas are very good at staying hidden, so make sure you do this very thoroughly so that you don’t miss them. After this, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from flea allergy dermatitis, it’s important to call your veterinarian for an appropriate treatment plan. 

Treatment for Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Now, when it comes to treatment options for Flea Allergy Dermatitis, there are a variety of treatments your veterinarian may suggest depending on the severity of the dog’s symptoms as well as any known allergies with your dog personally. With that said, a few common treatments your veterinary may suggest include:

  • Steroids to help break the itch-scratch cycle
  • A gentle, sulfate-free shampoo
  • Antibiotics

Nevertheless, your pet’s veterinarian will most likely recommend either an oral or injected medication to ease your pet’s itching. If your dog has an infection, however, the veterinarian may also prescribe an antibiotic to go along with the initial treatment to help soothe any discomfort the dog may be experiencing. 

Natural Treatments 

Now, when it comes to natural solutions to getting rid of FAD in your dog, there have been a variety of experiments with holistic approaches throughout the years. However, here is a couple of the most common that are also believed to be the most effective. 

1. Apple cider vinegar 

The first natural treatment is apple cider vinegar. This is a home remedy that has long been used as a gentle way to soothe irritated skin, as well as act as a barrier on your pet’s skin to keep fleas away from your dog. For this, you simply put a diluted vinegar in a spray bottle and spray your dog all over their body, and then you’re done. 

Of course, it is always important to discuss this natural treatment option with your vet prior to doing so to ensure it is approved. You can read more about the use of apple cider vinegar as well as other holistic treatments for FAD  here on

2. Probiotics

Secondly, another natural prevention method that may be useful for keeping away fleas is with probiotics. Probiotics are often referred to as the ‘good’ bacteria that can improve digestive health and are also believed to be able to boost a pet’s immune system to help reduce allergies. With that said, there isn’t actually any solid evidence to back probiotics for a dog for environmental or contact allergies, however, and should therefore be treated as a holistic approach more than anything.

With that said, while many dog food brands claim to provide probiotics, a dog supplement is recommended as the best and most efficient way to increase your dog’s probiotics intake. However, you should always consult a veterinarian for advice on what type of supplement to try for your pet prior to taking to ensure it is truly the safest and most effective for your dog individually. 

Atopic Dermatitis

Next, the second most common skin allergy in dogs is atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis (also known as atopy) is an inflammatory and chronic skin disease in dogs and other pets that comes from environmental allergies. For this, allergic reactions occur when an animal inhales airborne substances, such as pollen or dust, as well as come in direct contact with a harmful or chemical substance, which causes the animal to rub, lick, bite or scratch their skin frequently.

With that said, let’s go over a list of some of the most common symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs. 

Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs

Now, when it comes to the signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs, signs will usually be mild and unnoticeable at first; however, their severity can vary greatly per canine. With that said, here is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs:

  • Scratching and biting of the skin
  • Licking of the body, especially the paws
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic ear and skin infections
  • Rubbing against the floor
  • Watery eyes
  • Scabs and wounds

And more. As you can see, the symptoms of atopic dermatitis are very similar to the symptoms of other skin conditions, which can make it hard to properly diagnose. Nevertheless, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis for more accurate information on the condition for your dog personally. 

Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs

Now, when it comes to options of treatment for atopic dermatitis, each treatment is often given based on the condition of atopic dermatitis on the dog, the expected causes, and if there is infection surrounding it.  

However, despite the cause, the first step a veterinarian will most likely recommend that you take with your dog is eliminating exposure to the allergens causing dermatitis. Using a process of elimination by removing individual environmental factors at a time that have the potential to trigger an outbreak can be an effective way to do this. This could include changing their diet or bedding, as these could be major causes of atopic dermatitis. However, this treatment option takes a lot of trial and error and could take several months to complete.

On the other hand, if a dog has a severe case of atopic dermatitis, removing and changing specific factors might not be enough. If this is the case, oral corticosteroids can also be administered to help control or reduce the itching in the dog but come with many side effects associated, so these must only be taken if directed by your veterinarian. Along with this, antibiotics or antifungal medicines are often prescribed to treat additional skin infections that may have resulted from allergies.

Natural Treatments

On the other hand, if you are looking for more natural ways to treat atopic dermatitis, there are a few options that you may want to consider. Here is a list of natural remedies that may help your dog with atopic dermatitis. 

1. CBD Oil for Dogs

The first natural treatment for atopic dermatitis that is believed to be the most effective for dogs is CBD oil. Derived from hemp, CBD oil is gentle, safe, all-natural, and can be used in a variety of different ways. For this, you can either apply CBD directly onto your pet’s skin for fast-acting soothing relief or add it into your dog’s food bowl. 

With that said, while CBD oil is all-natural and safe, it may not be safe to use it in place of other medications. However, make sure you talk to your vet before trying CBD for your dog for safety precautions as well as the appropriate dosage.

2. Vitamin E oil

Next, Vitamin E oil is another common natural ingredient used to treat atopic dermatitis. Rich in soothing and rejuvenating antioxidants, Vitamin E acts as a moisturizer on a dog’s skin, as atopic dermatitis can severely dry out the skin, leaving it pained and uncomfortable. Therefore, massaging Vitamin E into the skin can be incredibly relieving to your dog.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to discuss natural options with your veterinarian before treating your dog to ensure it is the best option. However, do not give your dog oral Vitamin E unless directed to do so by your veterinarian. 

Hot Spots

Next, another common skin allergy known as hot spots, or moist dermatitis, is incredibly common in dogs and can arise from bug/flea bites, poor grooming, ear infections, splinters, and food allergies. Hot spots can best be described as moist, irritated patches on the top layer of the skin that is caused by imbalances of normal bacteria on the skin and then worsened by bacterial infection from the dog repeatedly biting, itching, and scratching at it. 

Symptoms of Hot Spots

Now, when it comes to the symptoms of a hot spot, it could include any or all of the following:

  • Itchy, painful patch of skin
  • Hair loss
  • Foul odor from the wound
  • Constant chewing or licking 
  • Aggression or sensitivity towards certain areas of the body
  • Redness, inflammation, or swelling
  • Dry skin
  • Moist and matted fur

And more. Of course, each dog is individual in its symptoms and may experience all or none of the following above. However, if you suspect your dog is experiencing hot spots despite a lack of the symptoms listed above, it’s best to schedule a check-up with your veterinarian just to be sure, as hot spots will not resolve on their own.

Treatment for Hot Spots

Now, when it comes to treatment options for hot spots since they are known to be a recurring problem in many dogs, your veterinarian will need to determine the underlying cause for a truly successful treatment. Oftentimes, flea and tick preventatives are administered first, as well as anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics to help relieve intense and unbearable itching as well as a secondary skin infection. Protective collars, such as e-collars, are also often used to prevent the dog from irritating the infected area further. 

Natural Treatments

Now, if you’re looking for a treatment option that’s a little more natural, here’s a brief list of some of the home remedy treatments that are believed to be the most effective. 

1. Protecting and allowing the hot spot to dry out

To start off, the first and most effective natural treatment for hot spots at home is to make sure the problem area is safe and that your dog isn’t messing with it. For this, you’ll want to carefully cut the fur around the area of the hot spot to allow it to properly air out. 

After this, you’ll need to find a way to keep your dog from biting or licking at it, which usually means the cone has to come out. While dogs hate wearing the cone, putting your dog in the cone shield will help the wound to heal much quicker, which will keep your dog happier overall. Therefore, taking one for the team this time might not be so bad for your pooch in the long run.

2. Black tea 

Next, another natural remedy that is commonly used to treat hot spot wounds is black tea. Black tea is rich in antioxidants as well as antibacterial qualities and is therefore excellent at helping to promote healing on a wound as well as helping it to dry out. With that said, if caught early, black tea can help to provide incredible relief for your dog. 

For this, all you’ll need to do is steep a cup of black tea in hot water, allow it to cool, and then place it on the hot spot itself, repeating several times a day. This can help to quickly allow the hot spot to heal as well as reduce any inflammation or pain your dog may be experiencing. 

However, it’s important to remember that this is just a holistic approach and should be treated as such, as the words of a veterinarian should always take priority over natural remedies. With that said, make sure you discuss any natural remedies you plan to do with your vet ahead of time to ensure it is done safely and properly for your dog. You can also read more about holistic approaches to hot spots as well as other natural treatments options here on

Food allergy

And finally, food allergies are one of the most common allergies known to trigger skin allergies in dogs. When a dog has a food allergy, it can experience everything from physical reactions, such as hives and itchy skin, as well as gastrointestinal reactions, such as vomiting. Nevertheless, food allergies can be as acute or as severe as food allergies in people and should be treated as soon as they are noticed. 

Symptoms of Food Allergies

Now, when it comes to the signs and symptoms of food allergy in dogs, your dog may experience everything from:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Swelling

However, more subtle changes can also occur over time, which can include everything from weight loss, hyperactivity, aggression, or low energy. 

Triggers of Food Allergies

Next, while food allergies are pretty self-explanatory when it comes to where they come from, believe it or not, certain foods have a much more likely chance to cause allergies in dogs than others. This typically includes, but isn’t limited to: 

  • Dairy products
  • Lamb 
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs,
  • Soy or gluten (from wheat)

However, just like humans, each dog is unique, so truly, any food could potentially produce an allergy, which is why it is best to consult your veterinarian about the proper treatment for your dog specifically.

Treatment for food allergies

Now, when it comes to treatment options, your veterinarian is most likely going to suggest a trial period of a new diet before delving into medication, unless the allergy is incredibly severe and is life-threatening. With that said, here’s a quick overview of some of the most common options vet’s typically provide for food allergies. 

1. Hypoallergenic diet

The first treatment option is to put your dog on a hypoallergenic diet for a brief period of time. A hypoallergenic diet is a strict diet of bland foods that dogs have not most likely eaten before to limit the chances of allergens. This diet is used to help to better single out what food your dog may be allergic to or if it is even a food allergy at all that your dog is experiencing. However, this diet is incredibly strict and means you cannot feed your dog anything but hypoallergenic food, which means no treats or leftover scraps, as this could compromise the diet. 

At the end of the trial period, your vet will ask you to slowly wean your dog back onto a regular diet and observe if any symptoms occur. If they do, it is most likely a food allergy, and the dog will need to be put on a permanent specific food diet to combat it. 

2. Oral steroid

Aside from this, vets may also prescribe a powerful oral steroid. However, it is important to mention that steroids do not prevent allergies but work by inhibiting the inflammation that causes allergic reactions to them. Therefore, this will help to decrease the discomfort in your dog. However, steroids can have some very serious side effects that can cause additional problems to your dog’s health, so they are often only used for short periods of time and should be thoroughly discussed with your vet prior to taking them.


In conclusion, there are many unique ways to manage skin allergies in dogs, depending on their initial cause and symptoms. From food allergies to flea bites, we hope this article has helped to give you a better understanding of the common skin allergies in dogs, as well as their common veterinary and holistic treatments that you can use to help to cure your dog quickly and comfortably, in the safest way possible. 


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