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Dog Allergies and Lesion Locations

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Common Allergic Lesion Locations

A flea allergy primarily affects the back half of the dog, especially over the hips and base of the tail.

Food allergies are said to affect "ears and rears." It can also cause itching in the face and paws.

Allergies to pollen, molds, and dust mites frequently cause the head and feet to be itchy.

Talk to your veterinarian if you notice any “itchiness” in your dog that is out of the ordinary.

Dogs are taken to the veterinarian for skin problems more than any other reason. Most often they are itchy and that itchiness is typically due to allergies. The text of canine and feline dermatological diseases is large because there are hundreds of skin diseases, however, it can help to start with some generalities when determining the cause.

Again, there are many causes of itchiness, but allergies are one of the most prevalent causes. The most common allergies are flea allergy, food allergy and atopy, which is an allergy to environmental allergens, especially pollen, molds, and house dust mites (which are in all houses). The location of the lesions and itchiness can give clues as to the type of allergy.  

Flea allergies are very common. With this allergy, pets are most itchy in the back half of the dog. Commonly there is hair loss, redness, and possibly scabs and infections over the dog's hips and tail base. You may not even see fleas!  If a pet is allergic to fleas, all it takes is one flea to make the dog incredibly itchy.  When the pet is licking and chewing at itself, he or she often eats the flea which then destroys the evidence.  The flea bite has still set off an inflammatory response so the pet is still itchy.  Veterinarians seeing dogs with lesions in these areas will suspect a flea allergy even if they don’t see any fleas.

A food allergy is also a very common allergy. Dogs show food allergy symptoms in their ears, face, feet, or rear. Pets don't become allergic to a brand, they are allergic to one or more ingredients. Thus just changing brands of food probably won't help the itchiness.  To make matters more difficult, research shows that that in the manufacturing process of pet foods, there is a lot of cross contamination of ingredients. This means there are ingredients in the food that are not on the label. There is no valid blood or skin test to determine if your pet has a food allergy, but your veterinarian can help you find a food to use as a test (commonly this is rabbit and potato by Royal Canin as this is manufactured  for food trials since there are no other ingredients.)

Atopy, the allergy to such environmental things as pollen, house dust mites, and molds, frequently causes the dog to be itchy in the face or feet. Unfortunately this type of allergy is harder to control because it is impossible to totally remove these items from the pets life. Luckily many dogs can be helped with hyposensitization by a veterinary dermatologist or by the drug Atopica.  

Skin lesions from allergies are frequent as well. These generalities are not hard-and-fast rules, but can used as a starting point. Your veterinarian will also check for any secondary skin infections as these will make the dog itchy even if you get rid of the allergen from the dog's environment. Your veterinarian can help your itchy dog, since this the most common complaint they see, they have lots of experience!

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Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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