Could scratching and dry-reddish skin indicate that a dog has allergies?

Original Question: My grandson’s dog seems to have sensitive or very dry skin. Her skin is very pink or red most of the time. She scratches a lot and also seems to shed nails. We are wondering if it may be allergies or if it may have something to do with being in the kennel for long periods of time while they are out. - Joy

Could scratching and dry-reddish skin indicate that a dog has allergies? Mar 5, 2018

Hi Joy,

Thanks for your question.

There’s very little information in your question but I’ll try my best to give you some recommendations on what to do. The way you describe the skin and the itching makes me concerned that it is more than just dry skin. For dry skin, you can use an oatmeal-based shampoo, lather it on, leave it on for five or 10 minutes and then rinse it off. That should help moisturize it a bit. You can also look at supplementing the diet with omega-3 fatty acids and that should help as well.

Generalized redness and itching could indicate a few things, such as allergies, bacterial infection, yeast infection, skin parasites, or some other type of medical condition. In order to evaluate this, the first thing I would recommend is to have your veterinarian perform a test called a skin scraping. This is an inexpensive, quick test that will look for bacteria, yeast and parasites on the skin. If one of these entities is found it can be treated and resolved. If nothing is found, you then have to consider that this diagnosis may be allergies. Allergies are a lot more complex to treat. I would recommend you have a good look at the article “Dealing With Your Pet’s Allergies” and our video “What You Should Know About Over-the-Counter Antihistamine Use in Dogs & Cats”. At this point, you could consider doing something simple that may help, such as changing the diet to a different food with a different protein and carbohydrate source. If it happens to be a food allergy, you may get lucky and resolve it just with this. But keep in mind that allergies are much more complex than just changing the diet and there are multiple treatments that are often used together to address this problem. As I mentioned above, the first thing you should do is to see your veterinarian and perform that skin scraping.

Good luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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