Tag archives: allergies

Why is my dog so itchy? Part 3: Lice and Mites

Why is my dog so itchy? Part 3: Lice and Mites

Click for Part 1 and Part 2 of this ongoing blog about itchy dogs.

Though many itchy dogs suffer from food or environmental allergies (as discussed in previous blogs of this series), parasites of the skin and hair coat (called ectoparasites) are another important cause of itchiness in our canine companions. In fact, performing parasite testing should be considered a veterinary standard for itchy dogs. Ruling out parasitic causes of itchiness is important because they can greatly complicate diagnosis and treatment of other skin related diseases. Though there are many individual species, in this and the next blog in this series we will examine four general groups of ectoparasites that infest our dogs.


The first experience I can recall involving lice was in elementary school; a time period in life when an infestation of head lice could turn any otherwise sanitary, well-meaning child into the classroom leper. Luckily for us dog owners, we don’t need to fret much about our own health if our canine children come down with an infestation of lice as they tend to be very species-specific in regards to which creatures they choose to call home.

Lice come in two main varieties; chewing lice and ...

Why is My Dog so Itchy? Part 2: Environmental Allergens and Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Why is My Dog so Itchy? Part 2: Environmental Allergens and Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Click here for Part 1 of this ongoing blog about itchy dogs.

Like people, some dogs are known to develop seasonal summer allergies to a variety of environmental allergens. Pollen, mold, dust mites, and mildew are just a few of the triggers that can make dogs itchy as the days become warmer. Many dogs have only mild signs of allergies that can be controlled by the use of antihistamines and bathing to wash allergens from the hair coat. In these mild cases, the allergies are predictable annually, they don’t seem to progress in severity, and are relatively easy to manage. However, for some dogs, the body’s reaction to allergens is so significant that their overall quality of life can be greatly impaired.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis
An allergic disease now termed “canine atopic dermatitis” (CAD) is a relatively common and troubling condition seen in our canine friends. It is estimated that up to 10% of all dogs are affected by this condition worldwide. First discussed in the 1930’s, the definition of the disorder and our scientific understanding of the cause are still being worked out. Our current understanding is that CAD is a multifactorial disease involving genetic predisposition, immune system dysregulation ...

Why is my dog so itchy? Part I: Food Allergies

Why is my dog so itchy? Part I: Food Allergies

The summer season is upon us! Unfortunately, for many dogs, this also means the itchy season. In 2013, according to the veterinary health insurance company, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), trips to the veterinarian for skin allergies were the most frequently submitted claims. In addition, the second highest number of claims came from owners whose dogs had ear infections. Interestingly, one of the most common causes of ear infections in dogs is also allergies.

In my experience, there are many misunderstandings among dog owners when it comes to canine allergic disease. One of the most common misunderstandings I encountered in practice was to blame food first as a cause of their dog’s bad skin. It was not uncommon for an owner of an allergic dog to inform me that they had already changed their dog’s food multiple times, but that it either didn’t help or only helped for a short period of time. Not only can rapid food changes cause severe gastrointestinal issues in dogs, approximately 90% of the time owners are wrong in blaming food, as only 10% of all canine skin allergies are believed to be food related.

Grain-based foods tend to get an unfair portion of blame. Though ...