Dog skin allergies - what are the symptoms and how to treat them?


Sometimes, even despite a high-quality diet, you can observe that your pet's coat does not look the best. Additionally, the dog may scratch more often or even be restless and irritable. What is a dog's skin allergy and how to deal with it?

Dog skin allergy - what is it?

An allergy in a dog is nothing more than an innate tendency in the body to respond to certain substances with a negative response. These are substances that are harmless to the pet, but a misdirected immune system considers them poisonous and reacts with the body's defences. Allergies are extremely difficult to diagnose during the first visit to the vet. Additionally, a dog cannot be completely cured of allergies. Medications can be used to help heal skin inflammation and minimize itching. However, in order for allergy symptoms not to recur, you simply need to avoid allergens that sensitize your dog.

Types of skin allergy in a dog

There are three types of skin allergy in dogs. The first is inhalation allergy. This strain is caused by inhaled allergens, also known as environmental allergens. Dogs with a highly developed environmental allergy suffer from atopy or atopic dermatitis. Another type of dog allergy is a contact allergy, also known as allergic contact dermatitis. This type of allergy occurs when an allergic reaction occurs after direct contact with the allergen. Another type of skin allergy in dogs is flea allergy dermatitis, which is perhaps the most common allergy that occurs in dogs. Itching and skin lesions can also appear with food allergies.

Atopy in a dog

Atopic dermatitis, AD for short, is a genetically determined disease in which, as a result of contact with an allergen, the body begins to produce antibodies that are supposed to protect against a specific substance. The next time it comes into contact with such an allergen, the body releases histamine, which causes itching of the skin. At the same time, a number of immune and inflammatory reactions take place in the pet's body, causing skin lesions to appear. Although atopic dermatitis usually affects young dogs, it is not a rule at all. A dog can become allergic to allergens at almost any stage in its life. Atopic dermatitis causes itching that can even damage the dermis. The pruritus is usually accompanied by: erythema, bacterial-fungal inflammation and skin eruptions.

Contact allergy

Contact allergy is all those cases where the dog's body responds with an allergic reaction to direct contact with the allergen. Redness and local inflammation develop at the point where the allergen penetrates the skin. Contact allergy in dogs often occurs on the paws or abdomen - many allergens may be on the substrate. In dogs, a contact allergen can be rubber, cement, various chemicals, but also certain plants, such as ivy.

Flea allergic dermatitis

The development of flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD for short, occurs after a dog comes into contact with fleas. In this case, the most common allergen is saliva or flea venom. A strong allergic reaction occurs after a flea bite - one individual is enough for a dog to develop allergic symptoms. Your dog's skin becomes red and may become inflamed. Local alopecia may occur in the part of the body where the bite has occurred. An allergic reaction can last up to two weeks after the bite. It is the most common allergy in dogs, which is why it is so important to use special protective measures to protect your dog from flea attacks.

Food allergy

Like us, some dogs need an extra hit of fibre in their diet to ‘move things along'. Beetroot pulp, inulin and psyllium are fantastic fibre sources that will deliver good faecal quality. In addition to scouting for these ingredients in dog food formulas, speak to your vet about more creative ways to up your pooch’s fibre intake.

Dog skin allergy - how to diagnose it?

In order to diagnose an allergy in a dog, it is necessary to perform allergy tests. The dog is given extracts of popular allergens under the skin. For most allergens, the result is visible after just 15 minutes. Wait 48 hours for a reliable flea venom allergy test. In some cases, allergic reactions may occur with a significant delay after contact with the allergen, which makes diagnosis difficult. 

In the case of food allergy, the only way to diagnose it is to follow an elimination diet. Exclude any common allergens from your dog's diet and keep it administered for 8 to 12 weeks. After this time, provocation tests can be carried out, i.e. gradually feeding the dog the popular allergens in the food. If your pet does not have an allergic reaction to the added ingredient after about 4 weeks, you can try another test with another ingredient.

Itching, inflammation and skin lesions do not have to be just a symptom of an allergy. If your dog's skin and coat condition are deteriorating, be sure to visit the vet for a checkup. The doctor will examine your pet's health, take blood for testing, samples from inflamed areas on the body, and in some cases a skin sample for biopsy.

Products that will help your dog's Skin:

Opus Ocean | Complete, grain free dry food for active dogs with digestive sensitivities & intolerances

Opus Ocean is a grain and gluten free product suitable for active dogs that suffer from allergies and/or sensitive digestive systems. A recipe high in protein and fat, low in carbohydrates.
Breed size: All breed sizes
Protein: 38.0% (82% animal protein of total protein content)
Fat content: 18.0%
Check it out

Sensitive Digest | Hypoallergenic dry food for dogs with digestive sensitivities

Digest is a gluten free product with limited sources of animal protein, suitable for dogs that suffer from allergies and/or sensitive digestive systems. Lamb protein, known to trigger less allergies, is the only mammal protein source in the recipe.
Breed size: Small breeds , medium breeds
Protein: 23.0% (72.5% animal protein of total protein content)
Fat content: 14.0%
Check it out

Laxolja | Liquid supplement for dogs, cats & horses

100% natural salmon oil, Laxolja is produced from fresh salmon in Norway.
Protein: 0.0%
Fat content: 100%
Check it out

Skin allergy in a dog - treatment

It is said that the best way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergen that causes it. If we already know which allergens trigger a reaction in our pet, avoid them whenever possible. Antibiotic treatment is essential for bacterial allergic dermatitis. Antibiotic therapy in an allergic dog may last up to 3-4 weeks. If an allergy causes secondary fungal dermatitis, antifungal drugs are used. Although antihistamines are most commonly used to treat allergies in humans, they are only effective in about 15% of allergic dogs. 
When treating a dog's skin allergy, steroids such as anti-inflammatory and anti-itching medications are often used. We use them most often in the fight against itching and inflammation and in pets. Steroids should be used only under the watchful eye of a veterinarian - long-term use of this type of agent has side effects. If drugs have to be administered continuously, this should be done in the smallest doses possible, separated by the largest possible time intervals.

Other treatments for allergies

Ciclosporin is often used in dogs struggling with advanced atopic dermatitis. The drug has an immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory effect and directly affects the cells involved in the allergic reaction. Many owners choose cyclosporine because it does not have as many side effects as steroids. 

Desensitization is also often used to treat allergies in dogs. During desensitization, the dog is given more and more doses of the allergen to gradually get used to his body. In this way, the intensity of the allergic reaction can be reduced. Desensitization is perfect when we are not able to fully eliminate the allergen from our pet's environment. Dog allergies can also be treated with desensitizing preparations for animals. These are products containing aqueous solutions of allergens. It is estimated that the effectiveness of desensitizing preparations is from 50 to even 80%.

Other Products that may help:

Sensitive Digest Giant, 12.5kg - Husse Large Breed Natural Complete Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb & Rice Gluten-Free Hypoallergenic

With easily digestible proteins & carbs to promote smooth digestion


Mild, 12kg - Husse Natural Complete Dry Dog Food Cold Pressed Chicken & Trout Gluten-Free Hypoallergenic

Gluten free pellets rich in chicken for optimal intestinal health. With easily digestible carbs & inulin to support digestive wellness



Ocean Care, 12.5kg - Husse Natural Complete Adult Dry Dog Food Salmon Gluten-Free Hypoallergenic

With omega fatty acids to support nourished skin & a shiny coat


Opus Farm, 12kg - Husse Natural Complete Adult Dry Dog Food Chicken & Potatoe Grain-Free Hypoallergenic

Rich in animal protein & fat to fuel your dog's active lifestyle



Husse happy pets!



Frankie is a 16-year-old cat who was earlier this year diagnosed with Kidney issues. When tasked with looking for suitable food for his condition we discovered Husse's Exclusive Urinary. Frankie has happily been eating Husse since and is still extremely healthy at his old age!


Olly is a thirteen-year-old Bichon Frise, Who has been on Husse for the last 6 years. Being a white-haired pink-skinned dog he is prone to skin issues however ever since using Husse laxolja salmon oil and Ocean care mini salmon dog food he has been In perfect condition with no skin problems arising. Thank you Husse for taking care of my boy!

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Husse - Swedish food for dogs, cats and horses

Husse is a Swedish producer of food for dogs, cats and horses with over 30 years of experience on the market. Husse's main goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle for animals. All Husse feeds, treats and supplements are made only from the highest quality, carefully selected ingredients. All products are manufactured according to traditional Scandinavian recipes, and the production lines are under constant veterinary control. Apart from the quality of Husse products, it also means the quality of the service. Husse distributors are thoroughly trained in animal nutrition and will be happy to help you choose the right diet for your dog, cat or horse. Husse products are not available in a traditional sales network - we deliver them straight from the factory to the customer, so we can offer the highest quality products at competitive prices. Husse food can always be ordered with door-to-door delivery. 

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