Dermatitis in Dogs

Dermatitis in dogs can become apparent when your dog is itching uncontrollably. This skin condition can rapidly affect your dog’s health, mood, and overall quality of life.

Allergic dermatitis in dogs is also known as atopic dermatitis or atopy. What we would class as a harmless allergen in their environment can cause significant changes to your dog’s skin and how their body deals with the suspect allergens. 

It can present itself at any point in life but most commonly starts between the ages of one to 3 years of age. Typically, when your pooch is subjected to specific allergens, they will have a flare-up of symptoms. Hence, finding out the offending allergen that’s triggering the reaction is also key to your dog’s health.

With an allergic dermatitis dog reaction, there are significant symptoms that will appear, yet they can be mild through to very severe — so an early diagnosis is best.

dog allergy dermatitis.


Symptoms of Canine Allergic Dermatitis

Allergic dermatitis in dogs can present itself in many different ways. Some breeds are more prone to it than others because it is passed down from generation to generation. 

The list below details some of the breeds prone to dermatitis:

Moving on to the symptoms, they’re common traits of the usual habits your doggy may have, but you know what is normal for your pooch. If you notice any of the following, a trip to the vet may be on the cards:

  • Any unsettled behavior — excessive licking, chewing, rubbing, or scratching.
  • Hair loss — particularly around the ears and armpits.
  • Raw-looking skin — sore welts may appear, which is a significant allergy sign.

Ear infections — secondary to the itching, if your dog scratches their ear/s excessively, it can break the skin. Coupled with the stimulation of the wax gland — due to the allergen — an ear yeast infection can occur.

What Causes Dog Allergy Dermatitis?

As mentioned, you need to identify what could be causing dermatitis issues in your best friend. Only when this has been discovered can you get on the right treatment path. However, the list is endless as to what could be bothering your beloved buddy. 

Here are the top three most common causes: 


Just like us, our dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies. Ever been out on a summer’s day and your eyes stream, your nose becomes itchy, and then you realize — it’s hay fever season! The same applies to our dogs. However, rather than sneezing, dogs scratch, which can lead to dry, cracked skin and, eventually, dermatitis.


This is one that I’ve had experience with. My poor pooch had repeatedly been to the vets — he was down in the dumps, rubbing his face and scratching his ears continuously. Our vet suggested we change his diet to see if that made a difference. 

It became apparent my furbaby was struggling with the grain in his food. His dinner was causing these awful flare-ups, and our only option was to try and test different dog foods for allergies. Alongside our vet’s observations, we managed to rectify the issue. Dogs can develop allergies to food — even something they’ve been eating on a regular basis.


Sadly our dogs cannot talk, but they can let us know how they feel by showing us symptoms. However, if a bacterial or fungal infection goes unnoticed and untreated, it can cause further complications and result in a nasty bout of dermatitis.

You can find out stacks of more information by checking out our Dog Allergies section.

allergic dermatitis in dogs.

Dermatitis in Dogs — Getting the Right Diagnosis

Allergy testing is the best way to diagnose what has triggered your dog’s reaction. Dog allergy dermatitis is detected by either a blood test or intradermal skin testing.

Blood Test

A sample of blood will be taken from your dog and tested for specific allergen antibodies. 

Skin Testing

Your vet will shave a small section of fur to expose the skin. Potential allergens are injected into this area. After a few hours, they will be examined to see if a reaction has occurred. This method of testing is very specific and singles out each potential trigger for dog dermatitis.

Dermatitis Treatment for Dogs

Treatment for allergic dermatitis in dogs should be addressed as soon as possible, and observed by a veterinary practitioner who can provide you with helpful advice. 

Here are some tips for atopic dermatitis in dogs treatment:

Parasite Dermatitis Dog Treatment 

If the issue lies with a flea or mite infestation, treat them and your home. 

Fleas, ticks, and mites can only survive on your dog, but they can live temporarily in soft furnishings. Hence, treating your tail-wagger without treating your home also is as practical as drying laundry in the rain! 

Your vet will advise a suitable dosage and treatment plan, typically, it’s a monthly cycle.

Dermatitis-Related Infections

Skin infections are treated reasonably easily. Medicated shampoos can be sourced or prescribed and are effective for clearing up any infection. You may need to use it for a few weeks before eradicating the condition. But, if symptoms get worse or don’t seem to be improving, seek further professional advice.

Allergy-Induced Dermatitis in Dogs Treatment

Unfortunately, treatments for this are slightly different. As we’ve discovered, there are many allergens and triggers that cause dermatitis. Thus, the main treatment is pinpointing the known allergen at the source.

  • If you have tried looking into your dog’s diet and noticed no change, it could be you’re working against seasonal allergies. To combat these, you may need medication from your vet to lessen the symptoms. For example, antihistamines can be prescribed.
  • For dust mites, keeping your home as clean as possible can help. But even if you clean and sterilize every day, it’s near impossible to get rid of every spec of dust. With dust, you get dust mites! 
  • Washing soft furnishings regularly and giving your pup regular baths and grooming can help.
  • You may need a steroid treatment to give your canine companion the boost they need to recover swiftly. But sadly, once dermatitis has been diagnosed, you’ll find that they are prone to skin flare-ups, especially with age.
dermatitis dog.


We have discovered the ins and outs of dermatitis in dogs. Unfortunately, once your pooch becomes unwell with this condition, they will be super sensitive to many allergens and could have an outbreak more often.

The treatment of dermatitis in dogs is not an easy one. The correct diagnosis and treatment plan can be a long process. In the meantime, addressing and treating the symptoms will ensure your best buddy is as comfortable as possible.

Dog Allergic Dermatitis FAQs

Will Dog Dermatitis Go Away?

Unfortunately, dermatitis can reoccur, especially if it’s atopic. Atopic dermatitis dog treatment requires frequent monitoring by your vet. Yet, with assiduous care, you’ll soon be looking at a chilled comfortable canine.

Does Benadryl Help Dogs With Dermatitis?

Benadryl is an allergy medication that can help with the unwanted itching caused by allergens in the immediate environment. For more information, check out our guide on Benadryl for Dog Allergies.

What Does Dermatitis Look Like?

Dermatitis on your dog can be difficult to spot, especially if they have a coat with two layers. Hence, it’s important to check their skin regularly for:

  • Blisters.
  • Redness.
  • Scabs — from scratching.
  • Thickened areas of skin.
  • Flakes of skin — resembling dandruff — in their fur.

Is Dermatitis Curable in Dogs?

It will depend on what type of dermatitis your canine buddy is suffering from. For example, if it’s contact dermatitis, then once the offending substance is no longer in contact, it will clear up. Unfortunately, atopic dermatitis isn’t curable, only manageable.