Ask a vet how much time she spends looking at problem skin in dogs and she’ll probably tell you it takes up a good chunk of her day. Skin allergies not only make a dog feel pretty miserable, they can also affect the family (if you’ve ever lain in bed listening to your dog’s constant scratching you’ll know what we mean).
Grasses, flea bites, food, dust mites and pollen can all cause major irritation. So, what can you do?
- Perhaps the most common cause of skin irritation in dogs is the humble flea, so ensure your dog’s flea control is kept up to date. You may have never even seen a flea on your dog, but many dogs are allergic to flea saliva, so just one bite sets off an allergic reaction. Ask your vet about the best flea control product for your pooch.
- A common allergic skin condition in dogs is atopic dermatitis. If you dog suffers from this condition, he will have allergic reactions to allergens (usually dust mites) in the home. He can also be affected by seasonal dermatitis due to pollen. Your vet can diagnose the condition but if your dog is often really itchy, even when he is flea-free, clean and otherwise healthy, chances are he suffers for atopic dermatitis. The condition can’t be cured, only managed. Using a medicated or natural, sulphate-free shampoo regularly often helps. If you just can’t get it under control your vet can prescribe cortisone, an antihistamine or other drug to help.
- Take a look at your dog’s diet. Some animals suffer food allergies just like humans. Common allergens include wheat, corn, eggs, milk, chicken and beef. Diagnosing a food allergy can be tricky, as changes in the diet may not yield results for weeks or even months. Cutting out certain foods and then waiting for up to eight weeks to monitor changes is usually the way to go. It’s not easy, so talk to your vet about the best way to manage your pet’s diet.
- For healthy skin, it’s worth adding fish oil to your dog’s food. The oil will not only help with sensitive skin, it also aids their joint, cardiovascular and kidney health.