Dog skin irritation: symptoms and treatment

Our pet’s comfort and well-being are always a high priority, which is why it is important for us to be aware of the signs of any symptoms of dog skin irritation, including atopic dermatitis. Let’s take a look at some of the more common causes and symptoms of dog skin irritation.

Skin irritations can occur due to a variety of factors, environmental or dietary allergens, parasites or reactions to insects, and infections. Being mindful of common symptoms of dog skin irritation can help you identify the problem early and get your pup the treatment they need.

At Cherrybrook Vet Practice, we have the expertise and tools to properly diagnose and treat your dog’s skin irritation.

Common Symptoms of Dog Skin Irritation

Dogs can suffer from a variety of skin irritations, and it is important to be able to identify the common symptoms. Here are five signs to watch out for:

  1. Excessive licking, itching or scratching
  2. Redness and inflammation
  3. Dry, flaky, or scaly skin
  4. Hair loss or thinning
  5. Unpleasant odour or discharge

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important to make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can prevent the condition from worsening.

Interestingly, a number of light coated breeds that have predominantly pink skin appear to be more susceptible to skin irritation. Take a look at your dog’s skin colour, particularly if your dog is white, so you can be more aware of possible adverse effects of allergens.

Environmental Impacts and Other Factors can Cause Skin Irritation

Skin irritation in dogs can be caused by a number of seasonal and environmental factors. One of the most common culprits is exposure to certain garden plants and grasses.

However, the leading allergen that affects both humans and canines are some species of dust mite. Up to 64% of dogs are affected by this tiny, common household pest. Dust mites are in their highest numbers between March and May in Sydney, so take note if your dog exhibits a reaction such as red skin, itchiness or excessive licking.

Unfortunately, it’s not within our power to eradicate dust mites from our environment. What we can do, however, is reduce their effect on our pets by removing or reducing areas in which they congregate. You might consider:

  1. Vacuuming your carpeted areas, and soft furnishings on a weekly basis, and limit the contact your pet has with these areas.
  2. Swap out your pet’s bed with a smooth surface type, such as canvas, and add blankets that can be regularly washed.
  3. Avoid overly plush or fluffy dog beds that can harbour dust mites and are difficult to wash effectively.
  4. Wash your dog’s bedding once a week using the hot water cycle and hang in direct sunlight to dry

Some of the more common plant varieties in Sydney can spark an allergic reaction in your dog. We’ve listed below a few types you should be aware of, and the seasons they are most likely to cause an issue. Just like us, allergies are at their height when the pollen count it high. However, in some species, such as the grasses, allergic reactions are more common when they are actively growing, especially when there is wet, Spring weather, or when the grasses are damp after an overnight dew fall. You should also avoid letting your pet play on grass after mowing as the sap from the cut leaves can cause a reaction. Wait for up to 24 hours to allow sap to dry before letting your dog out for a romp if you are aware they have an adverse reaction to various grasses.

Allergen Season Month
Flat leaf weeds (e.g. Dock & Dandelion) Late Spring–Early Summer October–May
Flowering natives (e.g. Melaleuca, Wattle & Gum) Spring–Summer September–February
Grasses Late Winter–Summer August–February
Exotic trees (e.g. Elm, Oak, Birch & Pine) Winter–Spring August–October

Dogs can also develop skin irritation if they come in contact with ants and other insects, or if they’re unlucky enough to believe a bee or wasp is an amusing playmate. If you suspect your dog has been bitten, call Cherrybrook vet for what you should do to reduce swelling and itching. A cold compress may help in the short term, but if you see your dog is distressed, a call to us will help you find the right solution.

Have you also considered that your cleaning products, detergents or pesticides could be causing skin irritation? Just like us, dogs can be sensitive to various ingredients in common household items. For instance, Tea Tree Oil can cause a severe reaction in dogs (and cats) if ingested or should it come in contact with their skin. Remember, your dog’s paws are in direct contact with your floors every day, so don’t discount the fact that it may be your floor cleaner that is causing irritation to your dog. Remember, the shampoo we use should never be used on our hairy friends, their skin is far more sensitive than ours and the detergents used in human shampoo can strip the delicate oils on your dog’s skin, causing itching and irritation.

Certain foods can also trigger adverse skin reactions in dogs. If you notice that your dog is developing what’s known as ‘hot spots’ on their skin, it would be wise to visit us to have their diet reviewed. You’d be surprised how many of our best mates’ have a sensitivity to chicken, causing itching and discomfort.

It’s very important that we are aware of environmental factors our dogs’ are exposed to, and try to minimise exposure where possible. If your dog is experiencing skin irritation, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause and find an effective treatment.

Treatment Options for Dog Skin Irritation

Booking a consultation with Cherrybrook Vet Practice is the best way to return your buddy to their happy, healthy, wagging self. Once we’ve taken a good look at your dog, we’ll be able to suggest the most effective treatment.

Alternatively, why not take advantage of our Mobile Vet Van. If your pet is feeling stressed and uncomfortable due to irritation, it can be beneficial to see them in a more relaxed and familiar surrounding… like their own home. Our Mobile Service is available to come to you and provide a consultation, take any samples back to the surgery for examination, and then let you know the outcome and the best course of action. Feel free to give the surgery a call if you’d like to discuss or book this option.