German shepherd skin allergies are a common problem for owners of this breed.
Owning a German shepherd brings a lot of joy and happiness to our lives, but it comes with a responsibility. Despite their qualities, German shepherds are more prone to skin allergies than other dog breeds. So, your dog will have to face that challenge on a continuous basis and it will make him restless.
Skin allergies in German shepherds can be painful, irritating and make them uncomfortable. German shepherds have a thick double-layered coat protecting them from heat, cold and rain, and many other environmental conditions.
Skin allergies are common in German shepherds and 1 out of 7 dogs suffer from some kind of skin allergy. Skin allergies in dogs are often caused by a hypersensitive reaction of the immune system to any certain elements like pollen, fungi or food which is called an allergen.
In this article, we will talk about German shepherd skin allergies in detail as well as other types of dog allergies.
German Shepherd Skin Allergies
German shepherds are susceptible to skin allergies due to their thick coats. They can develop skin allergies at any age in their lives, but they are more likely to do so from 1 to 5 years old.
Environmental factors like dust, mites, fleas, etc., play a major role in skin allergies of German shepherds. These allergies are triggered by allergens that are commonly present in the environment or food.
Genetic mutations are also a factor causing skin allergies. Canine atopic dermatitis is the most reported skin allergy among German shepherds. Some other skin allergies are also observed such as:
- Flea allergy dermatitis
- Pollen related allergies
- Bacterial skin infection
- Contact dermatitis
Allergy caused by fleas affects dogs more than other types. Flea allergy is also easy to detect as you will see fleas on your lovely dog. It makes the skin really itchy and inflamed.
Your dog will start licking, biting and scratching severely after getting bitten by fleas. Flea allergy is transmitted by the saliva of infected fleas. Even a single bite of a flea is enough to transmit allergy.
House dust mites can also cause flea allergy. This can lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infection as well.
Tree/grass pollens, mold spores and dust are the common allergens that contribute to itchy skin. Most of the environmental allergies are seasonal, primarily occurring in the spring and the fall.
Other allergies can occur at any time of the year. When inhaled, these allergens can cause Atopic Dermatitis in German shepherds.
Dirt and dust mites can also cause breathing problems along with skin allergies. Pollen allergy is usually worse and chronic in German shepherds than other dog breeds.
Contact allergies are least common in German shepherds. When the skin of a dog, like neck, paws, tail, etc, comes in contact with an irritant compound, this can cause severe rashes and itching.
Some agents like cleaning substances, carpet fibers, or some cosmetic skin/hair products can cause allergy dermatitis when they come in contact with your dog’s skin.
It is best to note down what triggers skin allergy in your German shepherd so that you can eliminate such allergens around in his environment.
Speaking of contact, a dog may get infected by elements in his environment. One example is poison ivy and you can get more information from this guide: Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy?
German shepherds are allergic to some foods such as potatoes, dairy, meat proteins, eggs, and certain legumes like soy, peas, etc. Many people wonder if there is a connection between food and skin allergies in German shepherds. The answer is yes!
Food hypersensitivity causes skin allergies in your canine friend. Even if you have been feeding the same food to your dog all his life, he can develop it at some point in his life.
So, if your dog gets allergic to some type of food, skin inflammation is one of the first signs to appear.
Food allergies can cause many skin issues in German shepherds. If a food allergy is not treated on time, it can lead to further health issues.
Bacterial secondary infection is also common in food allergies. Food allergies can also cause gastric problems which can be extremely uncomfortable.
If a skin condition is caused by a food allergy, treatment can be a bit complex, but you should consult your vet right away. Store-bought hypoallergic foods sometimes do well if the dog is suffering from extreme food allergies. In some other cases, these foods may not work or even have adverse effects.
If it doesn’t work, then you can shift your dog to homemade food with the consultation of your vet.
Signs of German Shepherd Skin Allergies
Diagnosing skin allergies can be complicated sometimes because he can show multiple symptoms. Below are some signs to look out for German shepherd skin allergies.
- Scratching the skin
- Shaking the head
- Chewing and licking body parts
- Watery red eyes
- Dog suddenly sneezes a lot
- Intense coughing
- Red, smelly ears
- Flaky skin
- Hair/fur loss
- Dry skin
- Patchy skin
- Poor coat texture
- Gastrointestinal pain
- Alopecia (loss of hair from some patches)
Ears, eyes, paws, legs, and stomach are of prime importance when looking for signs of allergy in your dog. Hair loss is one of the common symptoms of skin allergy that develops along with red patches or swelling.
Diagnosis of German shepherd skin allergies is based on physical examination and clinical signs. Skin allergies in German shepherds vary according to the types of allergens, and finding the cause is important.
Your veterinarian may ask for some tests for confirmation. The most common test checks for antigen-induced antibodies in the blood of the dog.
Treatment of Skin Allergies
Medication is available for skin allergies. Temporary treatments provide relief from itchy skin and irritability. You can use Vaseline or coconut oil for that purpose. These solutions work for a short time only and you should not be seen as long-term fixes.
Antihistamines and corticosteroids are helpful in relieving allergic symptoms. Immunosuppressants are given in extreme cases with critical care. Antibiotics and antifungal medications are usually prescribed for secondary bacterial infections.
Allergy shots are also available for German shepherds. They help immunize dogs against allergens by slowly introducing allergens into their body. This procedure is termed immunotherapy.
Adding probiotics to your dog’s food can help him with skin inflammation and it also boosts the immune response in dogs.
Many topical shampoos with organic products are available in the market to provide relief from German shepherd skin allergies and help your canine friend feel better.
Topical creams and organic sprays are also available to provide a soothing effect to your dog’s skin.
If the skin condition gets worse, you should see your vet, especially if the fleas or ticks are the cause of the problem.
German Shepherd Skin Allergies Prevention Tips
German shepherds commonly get exposed to skin allergies but there are some preventive measures you can follow to reduce their risk of exposure to allergens.
- You should get a flea preventive treatment for your German shepherd every three months.
- Make sure to provide them with a clean environment (like keeping the fleas away) to minimize allergic reactions. Cleaning your house properly, vacuuming carpets and getting rid of dust mites will help your German shepherd stay safe.
- Regular washing of your dog’s bedding, toys and food bowls is always a good idea to help reduce infections, including skin allergies.
- You should not give your German shepherd a diet containing dyes or preservatives.
- Use an air purifier to cleanse the air. It protects your German shepherd from different infectious agents and allergens.
- Feeding high-quality nutritious food also helps them stay away from allergies. Diet having omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is best for their coat health.
- Avoid taking your German shepherd to places where pollens can be easily found and clean their paws after returning from a walk.
- Regular grooming like bathing and combing their hair twice a week is important to get rid of many allergens.
By controlling the symptoms of skin allergy on time, you can get rid of this problem easily. You should monitor the condition of your German shepherd regularly.
Give the complete medication dosage prescribed by your vet to heal the allergy completely.
The best thing is to hospitalize your German shepherd if he is showing severe symptoms of skin allergies. Sometimes your vet may recommend visiting a veterinary dermatologist for treatment of severe German shepherd skin allergies.