HEALTH & CARE

How to Choose a Right Shampoo for Dogs With Skin Allergies

Dog bathing in bucket
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Dog shampoo for allergies may not be that easy to identify especially since there are differences in the type of allergies that they may be experiencing as well as in the dog’s health condition. It is important to determine your dog’s health condition and the source of his or her allergy before applying any shampoo on him.

There had been instances when the dog’s condition actually got worse after a veterinarian-recommended shampoo was used. A thorough examination and analysis of the allergy is extremely important so as to prevent any worsening of skin itches which is the most common manifestation of dog allergy.

Most dog allergies occur when the dog is about 2 or 3 years old. There had also been instances when it occurred much later on in life and has been usually brought about by dog aging. Allergies occur as the body’s immune system fails to correctly identify foreign objects as harmless and react as if the material poses a dangerous threat to the body.

Bathing a dog

Veterinarians attribute the appearance of allergies to a weak digestive system, problems in the immune system, as well as to heredity. The good news is there are steps that you can take to help alleviate or even treat your dog’s allergies. The whole treatment include a healthy diet, proper bathing and grooming, application of topical ointments, as well as the use of medications. But first, we need to understand…

What are the root causes and types of allergies?

In order to treat dog allergies effectively, we need to understand its root causes. This way, we can effectively address what is actually wrong in our dog’s system and cut the root source of this problem. You cannot just simply apply shampoo for dogs with allergies and expect the allergy to go away permanently. Most of the time, the symptoms will return after a few hours and you cannot bathe your dog every 8 hours.

So to better handle the situation, and to give you the patience in dealing with the problem, you need to understand why your dog is suffering such a condition:

  • Genetic causes – Although allergies occur due to some significant exposure to the allergen over a long period of time, there are certain breeds of dogs which are genetically predisposed to allergies. Some of them include the Wire Haired Fox, Retrievers, English Setters, Dalmatians, Pug, Miniature Schnauzer, English bulldog, and Lhasa Apsos.
    It is important to take extreme care of these breeds as they can easily catch allergies and the first thing that you will notice is the itch on their skin. This will then progress to the development of hotspots, loss of hair, and persistent scratching which will bother you a lot especially at night.
  • Digestive problems – One of the major causes of allergies aside from heredity is the presence of problems in your dog’s gut. Most of the time, it is referred to as a “leaky gut” which is simply the leaking of food particles in your dog’s intestines which then enter the bloodstream and is treated by the body’s immune system as foreign invaders.
    The immune system response triggers the creation of immunoglobulins that cause irritation of the skin. Another digestive problem occurs when your dog is put on medication and most of the good bacterial flora is killed. This leads to the increase of yeast and other bad bacteria which can lead to allergy-like symptoms. Take note however, that most allergies can be accompanied and made worse by skin infections.
  • Immune system problems – Another possible cause of dog allergy are problems in the immune system. Dogs that have a problematic immune system can become allergic to a lot of objects ranging from pollens to even plastic or rubber materials. This often occurs with the degeneration of the dog’s health as he grows older.
    Causes of a poor immune system can also be a poor diet, lack of exposure to the sun, and physical exercise.  Due to the lack of necessary nutrients and physical exertion, the body’s immune system can be thrown into chaos and normal objects can be regarded as an allergen triggering various symptoms.

One of the great ways to determine if your dog has an allergy is to get him tested. If you’d like to know more, please read our article on the process of getting your dog tested for allergies.

Dog allergies are categorized according to the method by which the dog acquires the allergen. They are classified as Atopic or those that are acquired through inhalation of allergens, food allergies, contact allergies, and flea allergies. It is important to determine which type of allergy your dog has so you can provide the right type of preventative methods to alleviate the symptoms.

Infographic about fleas

Knowing the source or cause of the allergy will help provide the guidelines on what to do with your dog’s condition. Through this, you will know what activities to avoid and measures to implement in order to lessen the amount of allergen which may be present in their immediate surroundings.

  • Atopic allergies – These are the types of allergies that is acquired by your dog through the air that they inhale.  These can vary from simple dust to pollen from grass and trees. Most of these types of allergies are seasonal, i.e. in spring, when pollen are considered to be high.
    Some of the more common sources of pollen allergy are cedar, oak, ragweed, ash, and goldenrods.  Grass pollens can be high when you are cutting or mowing your lawn as well. Other airborne sources of allergies are molds, dust mites, and mildew.  Dogs who have atopic allergies exhibit itchiness on their feet, face, and armpits.
  • Food allergies – Just like humans, dogs can also develop allergic reactions to certain types of food. There are no set types of food that are considered to be allergic to canines as they can come in all forms but the most common are just like those in humans: soy, corn, eggs, wheat, some types of proteins, etc. It can be pretty hard to determine which type of food your dog is allergic to and the process involves what is called an elimination method.
    Your dog will be fed a particular type of dog food for weeks or even months and then one by one, foods will be reintroduced and assessed whether your dog will develop an allergic reaction.
  • Contact allergies – These are allergies that develop when your dog’s skin comes into contact with a specific material or object. Some of the more common types of allergens in this category include beddings, grass, cleaners, plastic materials, detergents, and other types of chemicals. The areas that are most commonly affected with this type of allergy are the dog’s belly, feet, elbows, and the muzzle.
    You will commonly see a reddish patch of skin due to excessive scratching and chewing off of the affected area. These can then develop into bumps and papules which is often the result of secondary infections as the skin becomes more sensitive and exposed due to wounds and bruises.
  • Flea allergies – These are the types of allergies brought about by the presence of ticks, fleas, or when other types of insects bite your dog’s skin. Your dog may not be allergic to pollen but when he gets bitten by these insects, they develop a serious rash and may persistently scratch their skin due to the irritation.
    Symptoms include skin rashes and redness and can occur mostly on the dog’s tail, the legs, and the back. It is extremely important to carefully remove dog ticks and fleas as they can cause some injury when pulled forcefully. There are ointments and shampoos which can help you remove them aside from anti-allergy dog shampoos.

What types of dog allergy shampoos can you use?

There are different types of dog allergy shampoos that you can use just as there are varying causes of them. You can choose from natural or medicated shampoos to help address the symptoms of the allergy. Treating the root cause of the allergy itself will involve other methods such as getting on a specific type of diet and taking nutritional supplements and medications.

Aloe Vera Shampoo

It is important however to make use of both methods, treating the symptom as well as the root cause, in order to get the best results for your dog. Not only will it benefit your pet, you will also enjoy less stress especially at night when they whine and scratch persistently.

  • Oatmeal shampoos – One of the most recommended and commonly used dog shampoos for allergies are those which contain oatmeal. Oatmeal is known for its moisturizing properties but it also has anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties. You have to be careful though since oats also contain sugars which are what bacteria and other microorganisms thrive on.
    Some pets have experienced a worsening of allergies by using oatmeal. But, if your dog does not exhibit any negative reaction on oat shampoos, you can even create your own by boiling 1 cup of oatmeal in about 4 cups of water and combining it with shampoo for sensitive skin such as Selsun Blue.
  • Aloe Vera shampoos – Aloe Vera Shampoos are notable for their antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. They offer immediate relief from itching and provide moisturizing effects on the skin as well.
    Aloe Vera however can be irritating on the soft tissues of the skin so they may need to be applied in a very diluted form or combined with menthol in order to prevent any itching that it can cause with exposed wounds. The eyes also need to be protected from the shampoo as well. But all in all, this shampoo is recommendable for all types of skin allergies and will also help to promote the healing of wounds.
  • Hydrocortisone shampoos – These types of shampoos are especially recommended for the soothing of allergies caused by insect bites. They help reduce inflammation as well as itchiness which often causes your dog to bite and scratch away at the area which had been bitten by the tick. This is a type of medicated shampoo and may not be available over-the-counter just like other dog shampoos due to the risks that are involved in case an overdose happens.
    It may be recommended by your vet where you can also obtain it. The use of this shampoo is somehow limited as well compared to those containing natural ingredients.
  • Herbal shampoos – These are other types of shampoos that contain tinctures or essences of various herbs and even mineral clay. Some of the more commonly used herbs include tea tree oil which is known for its antiseptic properties, green tea, chamomile, rosewood, lavender, bentonite clay for which has detox and antibacterial properties, as well as geranium oil.
    The benefits of herbal shampoos are often combined with aloe vera or oatmeal in order to enhance the results. They are recommended if your dog has a very sensitive skin and could not endure medicated types of shampoos. Aside from their soothing properties, they also help the skin to heal and to control the growth of yeast and bacteria which is commonly associated with dog allergies.

How often should you shampoo your dog?

The answer to this question varies among veterinarians. For some, the recommended routine is about once or twice a week while others recommend a more frequent bathing especially when your dog has a severe skin problem due to the allergy. One of the reasons why some vets recommend everyday bathing is due to the fact that yeast and bacteria tend to accumulate at a much faster speed in dogs with allergies and the only way to control their growth is by frequently removing them by bathing.

Other vets however, recommend about twice a week since regular bathing will strip the dog’s skin and coat of its natural oils which can lead to the worsening of skin problems.

But insofar as a dog’s convenience is concerned, they will benefit more from frequent bathing as it helps to soothe itchiness. The presence of dirt and bacteria in the surface of the skin will definitely affect how comfortable they will be for the rest of the day. Aside from that, it will also help calm down your dog through the warm water and pampering that they receive from you. You will also be able to get to know which areas are problematic and will help you to address them early on. It will also help comfort your dog knowing that their owners care about them.

Do you really need to use a special shampoo?

Dogs can also develop allergies just like humans and this can cause a lot of skin problems to them.  Dry, itchy, red, and swollen skin are just some of the indicators that your dog may already be experiencing allergies which is why it is important to use a shampoo made specifically for addressing these problems without causing further harm.

Dog shampoo for allergies are formulated with properties that help control the growth of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and inflammation which can worsen your dog’s skin as well as provide healing properties to help them take back the natural oils that will nourish your dog’s coat and skin.

What is good about these shampoos is that they aid in the treatment of the symptoms of allergies and some of their components can be absorbed through the skin to help promote a better well-being for your dog. These include the vitamins, minerals and polyphenols that help regulate the body’s inflammatory reactions as well as provide detoxifying properties to help rid your dog of toxins which may be hampering the immune system’s response as well.

So not only do they help soothe your dog from the itching, redness, and swelling that often accompanies allergies they also help strengthen their bodies as well.

It should be noted however, dog shampoos are not the end of the treatment process for allergic dogs. One has to tackle their overall health as well and this includes the provision of a balanced and healthy diet that will help restore the normal functioning of your dog’s immune system. This includes adding vitamins that have antioxidant properties such as vitamin A, C, and E to help promote the health of the immune system; fatty acids to help decrease inflammation and to regulate the health of your dog’s coat and fur; as well as the elimination of foods that your dog may be allergic to.

Keep in mind that shampoos can only do so much. If you’re interested in learning about other treatment methods, we have a great article on the most effective dog allergy medicines.

Puppie in bathtub

Just like us, dogs can develop allergies which can greatly affect their quality of life. They can suffer from swollen and teary eyes as well as persistent itching skin which can lead to infections and other skin problems. Not all dog shampoos are suitable for a dog with allergies as they may contain ingredients that can actually harm and worsen their skin condition.

Look for dog shampoos for allergies such as those that contain oatmeal, aloe vera, hydrocortisone, and herbal ingredients which provide a natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, moisturizing, and healing effect for their skin. Aside from this, complement them with other treatments such as allergy injections, steroids, and drug medications which are made to inhibit allergic reactions to provide overall comfort for your dog.

It’s possible that your dog may have another underlying skin condition that is causing his itching. If you’d like to know, we have a great article on skin problems in dogs.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Winona Matthews

    My dog is developing skin allergies. It might also be yeast infections. Does anyone here know of a shampoo can purchase on line or in other pet stores? Wondering if I should shave my dog, too?
    Thanks for any help. I’m also switching dog foods, do you think it would help my dog’s condition?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      I would have to disagree with the assumptions that it can be a yeast infection automatically. I’d recommend a quick appointment with the veterinarian to determine what allergy we are dealing with, and to subsequently get a sound recommendation.

  • Cate Turner

    We’ve had a dog whose situation would worsen with any dog shampoo at all. We tried everything that was available near us. That is until our vet recommended just using baby shampoo and baking soda (for the really messy situations). To my surprise, our extremely sensitive dog didn’t react to them. This was a victory in my case. For all those dog owners who are dealing with a dog who is just as sensitive as mine, try our solutions!

    • Wyatt Robinson

      These are valuable suggestions, Cate. I have to agree with baby shampoo as the mildest option out there because they’ve been formulated for a skin without fur, so that should really help sensitive skin.

  • Dana Weather

    Gentle shampoos should really be around for reasons other than simple allergies. Our pooch for one was irritated at the close cutting/shaving of his coat and reacted pretty harshly (red, irritated skin, etc). I was recommended an oatmeal shampoo, and I wonder if it takes a while to soothe the skin. Apparently her thin coat may be the reason why she was quite irritated at the (admittedly) close shave. I’m willing and all to get the oatmeal shampoo, but I’m wondering if there are reasons other than a close shave for her rather harsh reaction (an adverse allergy, perhaps?).

    • Wyatt Robinson

      A close shave exposes your dog’s skin to external elements, which may include irritants or external parasites that can cause irritation and/or infection. An oatmeal shampoo in mild preparation can help relieve the present symptoms and can be used often as the coat starts to grow.

0
0
Total
0
Shares