Atopic (Allergic) Dermatitis In Dogs: Ditch The Itch!

Atopic (Allergic) Dermatitis In Dogs: Ditch The Itch!

Is your dog constantly itching and licking/biting their paws? Have you noticed a sore like this on your dog’s paws? 



Constant itching and biting at their paws is not normal dog behaviour. It’s a sign there’s something wrong...but knowing the exact root of the problem is hard when we can’t simply ask them (we wish!). But, there is a high chance it may be atopic dermatitis… So what is atopic dermatitis? What are the symptoms? And how can I treat it? In this article we’ll explore this dog skin condition and hopefully give you and your four legged friend some much needed relief! 

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common causes of constant itching for dogs. It is a skin condition caused by an allergic reaction to one or more substances in the environment. These various substances, called allergens, can cause atopic dermatitis. 

What are the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs?

Unlike humans, dogs with atopic dermatitis only occasionally cough, sneeze or get asthma. Instead, they itch.  The itching may be in one area or all over the body. It’s usually the paws, face, ears, armpits and front legs that are most commonly affected. Many dogs with atopic dermatitis will also be allergic to fleas and will have symptoms of both atopic dermatitis and fleas. The symptoms usually appear when the dog is 1 to 5 years old. Unfortunately, dogs do not “grow out” of their allergies like many humans do - so we always recommend treatment to give them relief. 

Causes of atopic dermatitis

The most common causes of atopic dermatitis in dogs are flea allergy, food allergy, inhalant or contact allergy, and allergy to normal bacterial flora and yeast organisms of the skin. Early onset is often associated with a family history of skin allergies. Due to the hereditary nature of the skin condition, several breeds, including boxer, shih tzu, golden retriever, labrador retriever and lhasa apso, are more commonly atopic. But any dog can have atopic dermatitis, including mixed breed dogs! 

The Connection Between Allergies and Gut Health 

Did you know dogs with healthy guts are less susceptible to allergies? The gut is the largest and most complex part of the immune system for mammals. In young dogs, the gut microbiome trains the developing immune system to distinguish potential bad bacteria from good bacteria. Since an unhealthy gut leads to inflammation and a weakened immune system, keeping the gut as healthy as possible enhances your dog’s natural ability to defend against allergens. 

So what can you do to improve your dog’s gut health?

Studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids can enhance health in dogs by improving the gut microbiome. A diet high in Omega-3 has been shown to improve bodily functions in dogs and reduce inflammation in their body. 

Dogs need omega-3 fatty acids included in their diet as they cannot produce these essential fatty acids on their own. That’s where we come in! Pet Drs Mega Oil is a supreme blend of Omega 3,6 & 9 oils that are mixed with only the finest ingredients. It doesn’t contain copious amounts of cod liver oil, soya bean or canola oil like other competitor brands use. Instead Pet Drs prefers the natural goodness of Omega 3, 6 and 9, balancing this formula to the exact ratio to surpass using supplements.

Allergy testing for dogs 

There are several different methods of diagnosis for dog allergies. The most common is a blood test at the vet that checks for antigen induced antibodies in the dog’s blood. The dog will be screened for a list of environmental allergens, and the tests will determine the cause and severity of the pet’s allergy. 

Process of elimination 

If you suspect a food allergy, you can put your dog on a simple elimination diet that usually involves putting your dog on a simple, bland diet and slowly reintroducing other foods every couple of weeks. The diet must be restricted to one protein and one carbohydrate - preferably sources the pet has not previously been exposed to. These are called novel protein diets such as kangaroo and oats, rabbit and potato, or duck and rice. 

Has your dog tried our novel protein treats? It’s 100% Australian natural protein that helps puppers with their sensitive tummies and allergies. Dogs can develop sensitivities to mainstream proteins such as chicken, beef and lamb due to an overreaction of your dog’s immune system. This basically means they’ve eaten the same protein for several years, which has increased their potential to develop an intolerance or allergy over time. Our novel protein treats are an alternative to these mainstream treats as your pet’s body has most likely never been exposed to these proteins; and therefore are less likely to solicit an allergic response. 

Top allergy triggers for dogs you could try eliminating are: 

  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Corn (Maize) or corn oil
  • Eggs
  • Milk – Milk may cause an allergic reaction when other dairy products do not.
  • Yeast
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Fish or fish oil
  • Chemically treated water (try filtered or distilled)
  • Individual preservatives
  • Artificial colors and flavors


The best treatment for dog allergies is to avoid contact with the allergen all together. However, sometimes this is impossible. Therefore, some dogs are given intermittent therapy such as steroids, antibiotics and antihistamines for their allergies. However, if used for too long, steroids can have adverse effects; and antibiotics and antihistamines can become pretty pricey. Therefore, dogs may benefit from natural treatments to control their allergies while minimising the need for additional drugs. 

Introducing our itch-free, stress-free and mess-free solution to your dog’s itchy skin… Pet Drs Derma Cream. This cream is the perfect solution for reducing itch and inflammation from the skin. Pet Drs use natural ingredients such as Manuka Honey to control the bacteria,  Calendula and Gotu Kola to reduce the inflammation and Avocado, Jojoba Oil and Shea Butter to hydrate the skin for up to 6 hours. Pair with our non-slip dog socks for best results!