Dogs can suffer from all sorts of skin problems – after all, under that lovely shiny coat they have skin just like us, and just like us it is susceptible to all sorts of problems. A major cause of skin issues in dogs is what is known as atopic dermatitis. All dogs get a few itches, and a well-placed paw usually hits the spot. But if your dog is forever scratching itself, and if you can see physical signs on the skin, then there may be an allergy-based problem, causing atopic dermatitis.

Dogs, like people, can suffer from all sorts of allergies leading to skin problems, from a reaction to flea bites and particular infections, to sensitivities to pollen, dust mites or even certain types of food. If such allergies are causing severe itching then you might notice redness, acne-like spots, or hair loss. Above all, your dog won’t be very happy!

A vet will often run tests to rule out other causes of skin problems – many of which can be treated with straightforward medication. If allergies are identified as the source of the problem then as well as medication to ease the symptoms, there are possible means of dealing with the allergy itself. As with humans, steroids and antihistamines can provide relief, but these can lead to side effects of their own. It may, however, be possible to tackle an allergy through allergen-specific immunotherapy, gradually exposing a dog to increasing amounts of the allergen responsible for its itchy reaction to the point where it builds up a tolerance.

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