Dog skin allergies

Due to your dog's sensitive skin, you might find they develop itching or scratching behaviour which suggests an allergic reaction. Read more to understand how allergies work in dogs, and how you can manage the symptoms.
Adult Jack Russell walking through a field with face close to the grass.

Dogs are prone to sensitive skin, and can even develop allergies to particular things in their diet or environment. Before you visit a vet, however, there are several things to understand about the likelihood of your dog having an allergy.

What is an allergy in dogs?

An allergy is a reaction triggered by a specific element – internal or external to the body – know as an allergen. These may be unique to an individual dog or more generally known across their breed, age or population. The reaction is triggered by their immune system, which over-compensates and responds abnormally to what should be a normal environmental or internal issue.

What are some common allergies for dogs?

Across the dog population, there are some common allergic reactions to look out for. One of these is to flea bites, where your dog’s skin reacts more dramatically than normal to the common flea. This can also happen with mosquitos and other parasites. Dogs can also suffer allergies similar to humans, and have a reaction to environmental factors such as pollen or dust mites.

Dogs can be hypersensitive to certain agents in food, which can then develop into an allergy. This includes histamine, which is found in certain types of protein, tomatoes and spinach, as well as nutrients present in some grains. Some of the nutrients to which dogs have hypersensitivity can be found in some dog foods, which then causes unnecessary reactions to their skin and body.

What are the symptoms of an allergy in a dog?

The first thing you’re likely to notice in your dog is a behavioural change; they will itch and scratch much more than normal, either in a specific place on their body or all over. On investigation, you might find they have the sort of symptoms you would associate with an allergy in a human – their skin might look red, feel scaly or dry, and seem itchy.

Adult Beagle sitting outdoors in long grass scratching its ear.

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If you have any concerns about your dog’s health, consult a vet for professional advice.

Jack Russell Terrier adult standing in black and white on a white background