How to Care for Your Dog's Skin Allergies

Yes, your best friend can develop dog skin allergies. Food allergies in dogs are actually fairly common, and can cause dry, itchy skin that ranges from uncomfortable for your dog to downright dangerous. Learn how to care for your dog's skin allergies and your dog will thank you with a long and happy life.

Find the Cause and Eliminate It
The most common cause of dog allergies is diet, although environmental triggers can also contribute to your dog's skin allergies. If you notice that your dog has dry, itchy skin, consult with a veterinarian to try to determine the cause. Your vet will likely recommend that you switch your dog's food to a bland, allergen-free food and see if that reduces the reaction. If so, you can experiment with different foods to find foods that won't irritate your dog's skin.

Other environmental triggers can be harder to pinpoint, but keep an eye on what your dog is doing when the itching begins, and experiment with removing potential irritants to see if you can find the cause. Things with a strong scent, such as air fresheners, freshly painted walls or new carpet could be to blame.

Consider Medicated Dips
Avoid over-bathing a dog with dry, irritated skin, but consider medicated dips or soothing shampoos to help your dog's skin recover. Herbal shampoos or oatmeal baths are traditional treatments for dry, itchy skin, and they can be very effective to give your dog some relief from skin allergies. If you aren't having any luck treating the allergies on your own and your dog is developing hot spots or open sores, consult your vet and schedule a medicated dip.

Groom Your Dog Well
In some cases, simple grooming is enough to reduce and eliminate skin problems. Brush your dog regularly to remove dead fur and promote good skin health. Dead fur can be itchy, and removing it from his coat regularly can reduce scratching that leads to open sores. Bathe your dog once every month or two; avoid over-bathing, as that can contribute to dry skin problems. If you want to bathe your dog more frequently, look for special frequent-use shampoos and consult your vet if you notice any problems.

Benadryl or Other Medications Combat Severe Allergies
Your vet may instruct you to give your dog Benadryl or other medications to help reduce your dog's allergic reactions and give him some relief. In small doses, these medications are safe for your dog. Follow your vet's dosing instructions to ensure you're giving a safe level.

In the case of severe allergic situations, your vet may recommend allergy shots or steroids, but these should be a last-ditch effort to treat allergies when you've had no luck with other treatment methods. Allergy shots can be expensive and may take a long time to become effective, while steroids have other long-term repercussions and should not be used regularly.

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