Dog Skin Allergies – My Itchy Dog

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Have you had to deal with Dog Skin Allergies?

This is my first dog that I know of with dog allergies.

I’m sure our past dogs may have had minor allergies that went unnoticed.

However, Stetson’s dog skin allergies are very irritating for him and definitely require the attention of a vet.

Stetson and Linus are so different in many ways.

People often say they look like brothers, but if you look closely or are accustomed to distinguishing the differences between two breeds you’ll know they do not have the same mama or papa.

Stetson is a pure-bred Black Labrador Retriever bred for the Guide Dog program and career-changed just over a year ago.

Linus is from the shelter and is presumed to be an Australian Shepherd mixed with possibly a Chow, maybe some Lab, possibly some Husky…we really don’t know.

He may be a good candidate for one of those breed identification tests.

There are many other differences, but today I wanted to talk about the difference in their health and visits to the vet.

Our Aussie Mix Linus Was A Healthy Boy. Black Dog walking with Golden In Background
Our Aussie Mix Linus Was A Healthy Boy

Our Healthy Aussie Mix Rescue Pup

When we first picked up Linus from the shelter he was very sickly and tired.

He was covered in fleas, anemic, had a stomach infection, worms, and basically didn’t want to move his first couple of days home.

We cleaned him up, got him meds from the vet, and ever since he has been a very healthy dog.

UPDATE: Our beloved Linus passed on May 7, 2018. He was 13 1/2 years old and will always have a place in my heart.

Our Not So Healthy Lab

Stetson came from a sterile environment and was perfectly healthy when we picked him up.

He did require the regular vaccinations (Linus went through the same series of vaccinations), but that’s where similarities ended.

Stetson has had at least four trips to the vet for ear infections, four trips to the vet for his dog skin problems, and two trips to the vet for injuring his foot.

While I don’t consider this a lot of visits it’s a steep contrast compared to Linus’s yearly checkups.

Dog Skin Allergies

That brings us to our visit with the veterinarian the other day for Stetson’s latest run in with his dog skin allergy.

As I mentioned earlier Stetson has already been to the vet several times for this dog skin condition.

In response, we changed his food to Natural Balance Duck and Potato Allergy Formula.

We thought that helped, but later this summer realized Stetson’s skin was red and irritated again…thus our latest visit to the vet.

Here’s what we were told about Dog Skin Allergies and Stetson’s condition.

  • No ear infections which commonly occur from allergies – good news!
  • Red irritated skin and scabs are a result of allergies and bacteria setting in as a result of an allergic reaction
  • Could be mites – Derby had Demodex also known as mange not long ago which was very nasty.  After looking under the microscope the vet said she didn’t see any mites, but they could still be causing the allergies
  • It’s probably not from his food since we have him on Natural Balance Duck and Potato Allergy Formula
  • The most likely culprit is fleas. We’re not diligent about giving Stetson flea medication only applying his Frontline plus during the warmer months.
  • She said it could be, but most likely wasn’t ringworms. She checked under a black light and didn’t see ringworms.

She concluded that the skin allergies were most likely caused by fleas and recommended we keep Stetson on a strict flea prevention schedule.

She started us out with a flea and mite medication just in case the mites were causing Stetson’s allergies.

We went home with a topical medication called ProMeris and antibiotics called Cephalexin to clear up Stetson’s skins.

UPDATE: More recently we’ve used Frontline Plus topical medication to keep the fleas and ticks at bay.

She Stetson should be clear of his allergies within a couple of weeks and if not we have to head back to the vet.

Stetson our allergy dog - black lab sad eyes
Stetson our allergy dog

Eeeeekkk…and the vet bill was almost $200…lucky for us a couple of months ago we won a $200 gift certificate to our vet at the Orange County Super Pet Adoption at the Irvine Animal Care Center, but it really got us to thinking is it time to go Pet Insurance for Stetson and Linus?

Are you dealing with dog skin allergies?

If so, how do you treat it?

I’ve also actually heard that my aunt treats her dogs with simply a mixture of vinegar and water.

I’ll have to check in with her and find out how that works and report back.

UPDATE: We wrote a follow-up article that goes over the many remedies we tried with Stetson to try and clear up his allergies. Guess what? There’s a happy ending here. Check out: Dog Skin Problems – 10 Remedies To Help Alleviate An Itchy Dog

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  1. Thanks Colby for the reply! I hate to put her on drugs, they tried an antihistamine and she acted like she didn’t like that so I stopped. I’ll ask about the Atopica, let me know if you find something else (have you tried an allergy med like claritan? I’m thinking of trying that….)

    1. @Bonnie, one of my friends is a vet tech and she told me to try Benadryl so I’m thinking about putting Stetson on Benadryl for a few weeks to see if it helps. I have a friend who is a vet so I’m going to run it by him before I start Stetson on any new medications. Good luck with your pup. I hope he feels better.

      1. My family breed labs for a long time allergies are bad Benadryl. It works great as long as the dog is attest 30 40 pounds it shouldn’t hurt. But every dog is different.

        1. Thanks for the advice. We’ve tried Benadryl with our dog and it doesn’t really help. Our vet told us it works on dogs with allergies about 20% of the time.

  2. @Bonnie, Sorry for the late response. We used the Atopica on Stetson for about 3 months and he totally cleared up and his coat looked great. The only problem is the medication doesn’t make him feel good and he’d occasionally vomit. I didn’t like this so I decided to stop using it and see if I could find another alternative treatment. It probably wouldn’t hurt to ask your vet about Atopica. I’m guessing that different dogs react differently to the medication, but Stetson got visibly sick. Let me know if you find anything that works with your Aussie/Chow.

  3. Oh, and she’s still on the venison and potato with the occasional treat or table scraps (nothing with chicken though). What is this Atopica?

  4. So has the flea and mite medication helped? I also have an australian shepherd, possible chow mix. We got her from a shelter, assumed to be about 1 year old. When she was 2 we noticed scabs on her, in particular on top of her head and on her legs. then she started itching a lot! Spent about $1000 at a doggie dermo, did all the food trials, used revolution, sprayed the house, washed everything etc. We put her on venison/potato prescription food (expensive!). Thought we had discovered that she was allergic to chicken and she seemed to get better. Now though a year later, the scabs are back and she is itching like crazy and it’s killing me! i feel like my poor baby thinks her skins on fire! Help!! what else could it be and what can I do to help her? I also am not real good about applying the flea stuff, only do it in the summer (it’s Jan now and we live in Chicago!) as it is hard because her hair is so log. Help!!

  5. @Pieter, I’m glad your dog is doing well. We made another visit to the vet a couple weeks ago and Stetson is on a new prescription medication called Atopica. It seems to be helping. Our vet said that Stetson’s chronic ear infections, canine acne, and itching are probably all related to his allergy problems. We’ll have him on Atopica for a month and see how it goes.

  6. We have a black Labrador – German Shepherd cross with the same problem, and after trying every possible remedy have resorted to alleviatng the itching with prednisone. (cortisone) When the itching gets bad we give her a burst of 3X5 tablets per day in one go (5mg tablets) for three consecutive days. This controls the itching very well for a couple of weeks. Although it is not good for her it is better than allowing her to live in misery. The vet tells us she is suffering from climatic dermatitis. We moved from up country to the coast when she was a year old and that is when the itching problem manifested itself. She is now 8 yrs old and apart from showing premature grey, has exhibited no other health problems.

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