Skin Allergies

Wheatens can be prone to allergies, itchy skin, in particular, excessive biting, licking and nibbling of the paws.

Atopic Dermatitis:

An allergic skin disease of dogs, known as canine atopic dermatitis, is caused by the dog’s immune system hypersensitivity to common substances in the environment such as dust mites or moulds.

The signs of atopic dermatitis usually appear within the first two years of a dog’s life. If the dog begins to groom excessively, with licking or chewing of the paws, abdomen and hindquarters, then it may suffer from atopic dermatitis. Another indicator is the ears are reddened and hot to the touch.

A hidden sign that a dog is atopic is in the armpits, groin, or between the toes of the paws. Check to see if there is saliva staining. In light coloured dogs it appears as a red-brown staining. In chronic cases the skin, mostly in the abdomen, may change colour from a pinkish, to angry red, to black mottling.

Food allergy and parasitic infestations may mimic the symptoms of atopic dermatitis making it difficult to diagnose. Once fleas, foods and parasitic infestations are eliminated, then an allergy skin testing for dust mites, pollens, and moulds may be done to determine what causes the dog’s atopic dermatitis.

Flea treatments can also cause allergic reactions.

Inhalant Allergy:

Just like humans, canine inhalant allergies are caused by pollens (tree, grass and weed), dust mites, moulds and chemicals. Any dogs can acquire inhalant allergies, the most common breeds that are affected include terriers.

The symptoms of an inhalant allergy include sneezing, runny nose and eyes, scratching, biting, chewing at feet and constant licking. The itching may be most severe on feet, flanks, groin and armpits. Inhalant allergies are often the reason for recurrent ear infections in your dog.

Aerosols, 'plug-ins' and powders used to make a room or furniture/carpet smell good can cause inhalent and skin allergies and be careful of products used for washing bedding and floors.

Food Allergy:

Dogs can become allergic to a food they have eaten for years, this means many people overlook the possibility of a food allergy. Food allergies only account for about 10 per cent of allergy problems in dogs.

Food sensitivities in a dog may manifest as itchy skin, scratching at ears, shaking of the head, licking and biting at the hind quarters or feet, rubbing faces on carpeting, ear inflammations, coughing, diarrhoea, flatulence, sneezing, asthma like symptoms, behavioural changes, seizures, gagging, 'gulpies' and vomiting.

If food contains chicken this could well be the cause. Some foods are 'sprayed' with hydrolyzed chicken fat to make it palatable and dogs can be allergic to this. Also take care with feeding wheat/gluten and other grains.

Allergy Testing

Your Vet may recommend testing for allergies. One such facility is Hemopet (Dr Jean Dodds), use this link: Allergy testing which gives more information. Nutriscan offer a food Sensitivity test, click here for more information. Search also for Hemopet on Facebook (but you have to be a member)


The following links provide more information on the subject of skin conditions and allergies, but these pages should be read on the basis that no recommendation is made by WHI.

Apple Cider Vinegar is thought to have some good properties for dogs with allergies. Here is a link to a page on Dogs Naturally magazine and other web sites provide similar information.

The beneifits of Coconut Oil - Dogs Naturally magazine- click here

Fish Oil - is it safe? an article by the same magazine - click here

Turmeric Paste - click here

On this video Dr Karen Becker discusses the usage of Turmeric - click here
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