The 3 common causes of dog skin allergies

Dog skin allergies can cause persistent itching and scratching, which can make any pup miserable. But while dog skin conditions are common, there are many possible causes. Weather extremes in the UK can wreak havoc on our pup’s skin. But dry, itchy or flaky skin is often caused by allergens in the environment and diet too. 

Since many of the symptoms of dog skin allergies are similar, it can be difficult to get to the root of the problem. We reveal the common causes of dog skin allergies and what you can do to help Fido feel comfortable again. 

Common causes of dog skin allergies 

There are three common types of skin allergies in dogs and these include, environmental allergies, parasite allergies and food allergies. And one dog can suffer from one, two or a whole combination of different allergies. 

Environmental allergies – These types of allergies occur when your dog comes into contact with potential allergens in the environment. This could be dust mites, pollen, grass and mould. Environmental allergies are often seasonal where owners notice symptoms at certain times of the year. This is by far the biggest cause of allergies and sensitivities in dogs. 

Parasite allergies – Dogs can develop allergies to fleas, ticks and various other parasites like demodex, and other types of mites and lice. When the parasite bites your dog, this can cause an allergic response to the saliva, making your dog’s skin itchy, red and inflamed. In some cases the reaction can be severe, causing the fur to fall out in patches.

Food allergies – Just like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to different foods in their diet. This can be anything from the type of protein, like chicken or beef, or it can even be the wheat, dairy or vegetables in their food. Although it’s most often the protein found in the food that causes the problem. The main affected areas include the paws and ears. It can also cause tummy upsets. 

How do you know if your dog has skin problems?

If your dog has a skin allergy, the most obvious signs are excessive scratching and licking. It’s normal for a dog to scratch or lick to groom themselves occasionally. But when it becomes persistent and obsessive, that’s a clear sign something’s wrong and it’s time to book an appointment with your vet. But here are other signs of dog skin conditions: 

  • Dry or flaky skin 
  • Rashes
  • Skin sores 
  • Redness and inflammation 
  • Dandruff 
  • Lumps or bumps 
  • Smelly, inflamed or discharge in the ear
  • Hair loss

How do I help my dog’s irritated skin?

If your dog suffers from a skin condition, always see your vet for advice first. Since there are many causes of dog itchy skin, they may carry out an allergy test to help uncover the issue. However, it’s not always possible to identify the source with testing, especially if it’s food related. 

A flea allergy is often the easiest dog skin condition for your vet to diagnose and treat. You’ll simply see fleas or flea dirt on your dog’s body, which is then treated with a flea prevention medication. 

Top tip: one way to check if you have a flea infestation is to get some of the “dirt” from your dog’s body on a white papertowel and sprinkle water on it. If it turns a dark reddish-brown, it’s highly likely to be fleas. Don’t forget to treat your house/the environment as well your pets if fleas are found to avoid reoccurences!

Depending on the cause, your vet may suggest topical treatments that can be directly applied to your dog’s skin, including antibiotic ointments, corticosteroid cream or medicated shampoos. You should also opt for a food that includes omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids as this will help relieve dryness and irritation. 

If your dog has a food allergy, your vet will likely suggest an elimination diet for up to 12 weeks to help you identify the problem food. These diets are by far the best way of identifying if food is the trigger, but it does take a lot of patience and persistence to be successful. No treats allowed! Once you know which food your dog is allergic to, you can leave this ingredient out of their diet altogether and their symptoms should quickly improve. 

Here at we can create a tailor-made kibble blend to support your dog’s sensitive skin. We can exclude certain ingredients or offer a hypoallergenic blend to avoid common allergens. All you need to do is tell us what your dog’s allergic to, and we’ll leave it out of their tailored dog food. We’ll also include beneficial omegas to help relieve the dryness and itching. And now you can try two week’s free tailored dog food on us! Head over here to grab yours

15 thoughts on “The 3 common causes of dog skin allergies”

  1. Bailey has cushing disease which causes fur loss , so we’re hoping the new diet will make him more comfortable. We know there is no cure for what he has but we just want him to be happy.

  2. Boris has a grain allergy and since he has been on tails food its very much under control and he can still have a variety of choices of meats

  3. Raffy has an allergy I think it’s grass but bluebells could have started it all off. We have been to the vet and unfortunately it won’t go without an expensive medication. His coat is in a better condition and so is his poop, which is a relief to me as well.

  4. Rebus has many allergies which caused him to rub his jowls on rough surfaces for relief, often making him sore. Monthly injections at the vet helped a great deal but changing to Tails selective diet as well has made him a new dog. No more out of ordinary scratching and losing a bit of weight (he needed to lose a little).
    Thanks Tails

    • We’re so happy to hear that Rebus’ allergies have settled on his new diet and that he’s back to his happy and healthy self, Mike. Make sure to give him lots of extra fuss from us 💙

  5. Buddy and Max is on steriods at the moment from the vet, for their allegy but my fear is when they are finished the allegy will return, what can I do if this happens again

    • Hi Mrs. McElroy, we’re sorry to hear that both Max and Buddy are suffering from allergies at the moment, we’ve got our fingers and paws crossed that their medication helps! In the meantime, it may be useful to ask your vet whether an allergy test may help determine the specific allergies they have so that you can work to help avoid any food or environmental surroundings that may be causing these issues to flare up. Best wishes

  6. Princess is a fussy eater. She loves her tails food even the dog biscuits and her coat is in a much better condition. If princess could talk she would be thank all of you. I will never leave tails.

  7. Lily Rose is still suffering with itchy skin,flare ups,it’s very distressing, Lily has been on medication got seizures for about 6 years ,now the Vet thinks it’s probably the side effects of this medication that could be causing the allergies,so that has been stopped and she is being monitored to make sure the Seizures don’t come back, But Lily Rose really enjoys her tails kibble,her weight is maybe still overweight, but she has to get over many other issues before we cut down too much on her food.

    • We’r sorry to hear that Lily Rose is suffering with her skin at the moment, Teresa. Our Customer and Nutrition team would be happy to take a closer look into her food to see whether we can alter her ingredients to help calm her skin – just send us an email to with your details and we can see how we can help 💙


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