Dog Allergy Rash – The Itchy And Scratchy In Literal Sense

By Michael Tarran

August 9, 2021

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Is your pup scratching and itching quite a lot? You noticed hot spots, red hives, and a rash all over your pooch or only in some areas. But how serious is a dog allergy rash

Rashes on your pooch may look alarming and uncomfortable, but do not panic; skin rashes in dogs are quite common. These rashes can have a wide variety of causes, from a simple bacterial or yeast skin infection to a more serious underlying disease.

If left untreated, your dog's rash may develop into an unpleasant skin infection that will require vet care and cause your dog significant discomfort from day today. Here is all you need to know about your dog's allergy rash, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment that are currently available.

What Does Dog Allergy Rash Look Like And What's The Cause?

The main role of your dog's skin, just as much as human skin, is to protect his body from the outside world. The skin is a mighty protective barrier between the internal organs and harmful organisms. We might think of skin as some invincible hero, being all tough and resistant, but it is actually very sensitive to even the minor changes in both the dog's body and the environment.

A skin rash is usually painful, very itchy, and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, many skin conditions quickly progress. One of the most common ways that skin signals something is wrong and shows its sensitivity is through rashes.

There are a few causes of rashes in dogs:

  • Skin infections
  • Inflammatory issues
  • Allergies 
  • Parasites
  • Genetics
  • Hormonal imbalances, which usually includes endocrine conditions
  • Environmental causes

Most of the causes of rashes in dogs are the end result of bacterial, fungal, or yeast infections in cuts that open the skin barrier.

Bacterial skin infections are also known as pyoderma, which in translation means "pus" and "skin." Pyoderma causes lesions that look like pimples, and they cause the skin to look crusty, dry, and flaky. Also, hair loss and itchiness can occur.

Dog's can get pyoderma as a result of trauma to the skin, from excessive moisture, or as a secondary condition. Hereditary factors also play a role in skin infections.

Fungal infections are also common. For example, yeast dermatitis is a common skin condition caused by yeast infections and is caused by the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis. Symptoms include thickened skin, changes in skin pigmentation, a musty smell, itching, redness, crusty, flaky skin, and on top of all, a chronic ear infection occurs as well.

Ringworm can be recognized as a circular lesion; these lesions are always red and scabbed-looking. Hair loss is normal and what's interesting is that these rashes are usually not itchy; they just become inflamed. If you notice this disease in your dog, be careful since the condition can be passed to people and other pets.

Many allergies can also cause rashes on your dog. Those are environmental allergies (contact dermatitis or reactions to things like fertilizer, cleaning products, poison ivy), flea allergies, food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerance, leading to itchy bumps and rashes over your dog's body. 

When your dog itches and scratches a lot, he opens up his skin to infections, and this can complicate an existing rash. Allergies have a wide array of symptoms like rashes, skin infections, redness, hair loss, itchiness, irritation; if you suspect that any of these symptoms are caused by allergy, talk to your vet. 

Also, allergy rash can be caused by parasites. Fleas, mites, and ticks usually cause irritation and expose your dog to bacteria, yeast, and fungal infections. Usually, rashes caused by parasites appear on the belly and groin.

Some dogs are more prone to develop rashes than others; for example, breeds that are predisposed to have skin problems are:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • German Shepherd 
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • English Bulldogs
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Standard Poodles
  • Samoyed

Symptoms of allergy rash

Rashes on your dog can be presented in a few ways. The most common is pyoderma, characterized by pimple-like lesions, dry, scaly, crusty skin, hair loss, and itchiness.

Dog's skin will also appear red and inflamed and scabbed. The secondary symptoms that usually follow allergy rash are yeast infections that can be recognized by their characteristic yeasty smell or fungal infections. 

Symptoms may also include:

  • Pimple-like pustules 
  • Hair loss
  • Ulcers
  • Bleeding
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Swelling of the skin
  • Itchiness
  • Skin flakes and weeping skin
  • Licking, biting, and chewing
  • Scabs
  • Crusty skin
  • Strong odor
  • Depression and lethargy
  • Greasy fur

Diagnosing 

The only way to determine the cause of your dog's allergy rash is to make an appointment with your vet, who will perform some diagnostic tests. These tests are based on your dog's age, breed, overall health, and current symptoms.

The vet will use skin samples and blood tests to detect underlying conditions, fungal cultures, antibiotic sensitivity tests, and allergy testing to diagnose skin conditions accurately. Your vet may refer you to a dermatologist for some additional tests and treatments if the skin condition is severe.

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed the main cause of your dog's rash, the next step is to discuss your treatment options.

diagnosing dog allergy rash reason

Antihistamines are very common in treating dog allergy rashes. These medications have a variable effect on dogs since, for some allergic dogs, antihistamines work very well in controlling symptoms, yet they have very little effect on other dogs. 

This means that a minimum of three different types of antihistamines must be tried before you give up on antihistamine therapy. The most commonly used antihistamines for dogs are: 

  • Benadryl,
  • Atarax,
  • Claritine
  • Zyrtec
  • Clemastine  

However, antihistamines are worth trying since the side effects of these meds are very low.

Bacterial skin infections are typically treated with antibiotics. However, your vet may want to perform an additional test to determine the best type of antibiotic to avoid building up antibiotic resistance. Also, he may prescribe medicated shampoos or scrubs to help manage the condition.

Yeast and other fungal infections are always treated with antifungal meds. Allergies, depending on the cause, can be more difficult to treat. In most cases, you will treat both the allergy and secondary skin infections at the same time.

Final Thoughts

dog allergy rash - final word

Skin allergies in dogs are common, and they are easy to spot if you know what exactly to look for. If your dog shows any of the signs and symptoms of skin allergies, start thinking about what might trigger the reaction.

Stay attentive to the health and condition of your dog's skin, and consult your vet immediately. Dog allergy rashes are not usually serious, but they do require medical attention. As a note of caution, you must remember that some rashes can be transferred to people, so be careful and avoid touching the rash yourself.

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Michael Tarran

About Me

I'm a devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time assistant pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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