Environmental Allergies & Skin Issues in Dogs

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dog sneezing in the middle of flowers

Environmental allergies are caused by substances like pollen, mold, or dust mites, and can lead to atopic dermatitis. This allergic skin reaction results in itching, redness, and inflammation.

How environmental allergies can damage a dog’s skin

Allergies to substances in the environment (atopy) can manifest as skin lesions in dogs. A dog’s immune system can become dysregulated and overreacts to airborne or contact allergens. This overreaction produces skin inflammation in the form of itchiness, redness, and heat.

Excessive rubbing and irritation can lead to hair loss and the breakdown of the skin barrier which allows bacteria to overpopulate and cause secondary infections, resulting in further damage to the skin barrier.

Pictures of skin issues due to environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis)

You will most often find allergic dermatitis on the lighter-haired parts of the body, such as the belly, groin, and armpit.

red dog paw with wounds as a result of a severe infection caused by environmental allergies (canine atopic dermatitis).
Red dog paw with wounds as a result of an infection caused by environmental allergies

Treatment & management of the condition

Atopic dermatitis is best managed using a multimodal approach. There are tests available to help determine which allergens should be incorporated into the allergen-specific immunotherapy (e.g., allergy shots or sublingual dosing).

Atopic disease is managed, not cured.

Avoidance is usually not effective as a sole approach, but you should still try removing the allergen from the dog’s environment. When this is not possible, prescription allergy medications (cyclosporine, oclacitinib, and lokivetman) should be considered.


  • Dr Chyrle Bonk, Veterinarian

    Dr. Chyrle Bonk received her Master in Animal Science from the University of Idaho and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Oregon State University in 2010. She has over 10 years of experience in small animal veterinary practice, working for a veterinary clinic in Idaho.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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