How to Help a Dog With Allergic Dermatitis

Unlike humans who tend to sneeze when they have allergies, cats and dogs develop allergic dermatitis and become very itchy. Our Riverbank vets will discuss allergic dermatitis, its symptoms, and how to treat it.

Allergic Dermatitis 

One of the most common skin irritations in dogs is allergic dermatitis. When a  dog has “hot spots”, or allergic dermatitis, also known as atopic (atopy) dermatitis there is damage to the skin barrier. This causes their skin to become inflamed, red, dry, bumpy, and itchy.

Atopic dermatitis is an itchy skin disease in dogs. In this condition, an allergic reaction occurs when an animal inhales airborne substances (pollen, house dust) or ingests a substance they are sensitive to. The allergic reaction causes the animal to rub, lick, bite or scratch.

Dogs with atopic dermatitis are prone to secondary skin infections, ear infections, and yeast infections and may have sensitive skin.

Any skin infection or fleas will aggravate the allergic condition and may cause flare-ups in controlled cases. If this is to happen please contact your vets for a consultation.


Dogs will often exhibit any combination of the following symptoms if they are suffering from allergic dermatitis

  • Rubbing their body on the ground or against furniture
  • Licking themselves
  • Chewing/ Biting themselves
  • Scratch at their feet, flanks, ears, armpits, or groin, causing patchy or inconsistent hair loss and reddening and thickening of the skin
  • The skin itself may be dry and crusty or oily depending upon the dog
  • Dogs may also rub their face on the carpet; ear flaps may become red and hot
  • They get bacterial and yeast (Malassezia ) infections of the ear, because the wax-producing glands of the ear overproduce as a response to the allergy


There are a few different options available for the treatment of allergic dermatitis. 

Medication: Allergic (Atopic) dermatitis due to food reactions can be cured, but those due to airborne substances cannot necessarily be cured but can be controlled with medication in most cases. Some types of steroids are used for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. They are very effective anti-inflammatory, anti-itch medications. Antifungal medications are also used to treat this because they help with yeast infections. Antihistamines are another medication used to treat allergic dermatitis just like they are used for humans. Do not give your dog human allergy medicine without first consulting your veterinarian.

Medicated Baths: Medicated shampoos have compounds in them that are aimed at soothing injured skin and calming inflammation

Flea Control: For dogs with this problem, a flea control regime must be maintained.

Supplements: The Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acid supplements work by improving the overall health of the skin. These fatty acids are a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative agents.

Environmental Control: If you know what is causing your pet allergic dermatitis, avoiding it altogether is best for your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

    Do you think your dog is suffering from allergic dermatitis? Contact us at River Oak Veterinary Hospital today. We want to help your pet feel better.