Skin testing of dogs will nearly always come back with results about dust mites, grass pollen, house dust and so on. Everybody and every living thing is allergic to parasites and dust. The issue is how our bodies handle it. How strong is the dogs immune system to brush aside parasites and dust problems.
Why is my dog itching, scratching and chewing its feet?
There are a number of reasons why your dog might be scratching at its backside, chewing its paws and rubbing its head on the carpet.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and so it is no surprise that skin diseases accounts for a significant proportion of dogs with allergies and visits to the vets.
There are many conditions that affect the skin and coat of dogs, ranging from flea bites to skin cancer, but what is almost certainly the most common skin disease is ‘atopic dermatitis’ in dogs.
Skin allergies are incredibly common in dogs. Whilst most cases are relatively mild and cause only minor irritation, dogs with allergies and dermatitis can experience significant long term suffering.
Symptoms of allergies
The most common symptoms of dog allergies in the skin are:
• Itching (or Pruritus as it is known to vets)
• Red and inflamed skin
• Fur loss and saliva staining
• Foot chewing
• Secondary symptoms such as the blackening and the thickening of skin may occur with chronic (long lasting) skin problems in some dogs
Causes of allergies
The main causes of skin allergies in dogs are:
• Food allergies
• Atopic (allergies to things that are breathed in – dust, mites, pollen etc.)
• Contact allergies, including flea, tick and mite allergies.
Food allergies in dogs, in my experience, are by far the biggest problems and generally a few foods can be quickly single out as the culprits.
Dairy products: over 90% of dogs will be lactose intolerant by the age of 9 months.
Gluten grains account for a high percentage of dogs skin problems – avoid wheat, barley and rye in dogs diets. Also Corn/maize has proteins which are used to glue cardboard boxes – they have a tendency to damage to the digestive system .Fat in dogs food – High levels of fat or oil in dog food can contribute to dogs allergies
Poor quality ingredients: Ingredients in dogs foods which are not ‘whole foods’ like sugar beet pulp, prairie meal, corn gluten meal, etc Soya as a protein source. Also vegetable protein isolate (pea protein or soya protein).
Cut out the above foods if you think your dog has allergies to food which could be the problem. And then try an ‘elimination diet’ to find out which food it could be.
Atopic allergies in dogs are caused by allergic reactions to inhaled allergens such as pollen from trees and grass.
Other inhaled allergens can be a problem all year round such as mould spores, household dust mites, chemicals on furniture and carpets, indoor air fresheners and fabrics like wool and nylon.
Inhaled allergens can be a problem not only for dogs but humans as it is natural to be allergic to a lot of things in the air.
The key to understanding these type of allergens is how the dogs immune system reacts to them. A healthy immune system will usually brush them aside rather than allow them to affect the dogs skin.
The symptoms of dog allergies tend to be expressed in the skin. Licking feet and generalised itching are the classic symptoms of a case of atopic allergy.
Contact allergies are those caused by washing powders, cleaning agents in the house, fertiliser on the grass or weed killer at the side of the road.
These tend to be less common than the other issues but do need to be considered in dogs which have unusual patterns of symptoms. Redness around the feet after a walk or on the belly just after their bed has been washed for example.
Solutions to dog itching
The good news is that in most cases the solution to itchy dog skin is simply a matter of ensuring your dog is getting the correct nutrition. That includes treats too. Coupled with effective parasite control.
How we can help you…
Fill out our pet health questionnaire here.
The questions are designed to identify problems in your present approach to feeding your dog and what causes skin allergies in dogs.
You can also check out our online shop for herbal products that may support your dogs skin and coat.