Community Animal Hospital Blog

Does itching = allergies?

0 Comments Posted by CommunityAHAdmin in Uncategorized on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016.

Itchy DogEvery year, pet health insurance companies review what were the most common diseases, prompting a visit to a veterinary clinic.  Skin allergies are consistently in the top few reasons.  This is definitely the case for the 2015 stats posted by VPI pet insurance (see full list here).  In fact 2 of the other top 5 reasons, can sometimes be directly linked to skin allergies (ear infections and skin infections).  From my personal experience, skin allergies are the most common disease I diagnose in dogs, followed by dental disease in a close second.

So, What causes skin allergies in pets?  There’s actually a few different types.  I treat pets with atopic dermatitis regularly.  Atopic dermatitis is caused by a pet’s immune system over-reacting to normal things in the environment- namely, tree and grass pollen, house dust mites, etc.  This type of allergy typically starts with a seasonal pattern.  Your pet may become itchy when the grass pollen he/she’s sensitive to is in season.  The second most common type of skin allergy that I treat is food allergies, or adverse food reactions.  This involves a pet’s immune system over-reacting to a specific ingredient of the food , usually the protein source (check out our blog on pet nutrition myths here for more info!).  Both atopic dermatitis and a food allergy, can show very similar signs.  In pets suffering from skin allergies, I commonly see redness between the toes and feet, as well as within the ears.  The major signs owners notice at home is itching, scratching and chewing/licking feet.

Since licking, chewing and scratching can damage the skin, secondary yeast and bacterial skin and ear infections are very common with allergic pets.  Does your pet seem to develop skin/ear infections the same time each year?  There’s a change this is a sign of atopic dermatitis.  Year-round chewing/itching may indicate advanced atopic dermatitis or food allergic dermatitis.  There are various treatments and tests for skin allergies in pets.  Identifying the underlying cause gives us the best chance of controlling this problem.  Does your pet show any signs of allergic skin disease? Schedule a dermatology exam at Community Animal Hospital to have your pet screened for signs of allergies!



Michael C. Owen, DVM Associate Veterinarian Community Animal Hospital

Michael C. Owen, DVM
Associate Veterinarian
Community Animal Hospital

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