Watching your furry friend suffer from the itchy and painful effects of allergic dermatitis can be a distressing experience.

Allergic dermatitis is a common and painful inflammatory skin disease in cats and dogs. The onset of this condition is triggered when the body mistakes an allergen in the pet’s environment, such as pollen, as a harmful attacker and activates the immune system. The cells of the immune system then release chemicals, like histamines, to the affected area which cause the skin to become itchy and inflamed.

Some of the most common causes of allergic dermatitis are: 

  • Flea bites: When a flea bites an animal who is hypersensitive, its saliva triggers a localised reaction which causes the area to become irritated and itchy.
  • Pollen, grass, and plants: Similar to hay fever in humans, contact with pollen, some grasses, and particular plants can trigger allergic dermatitis in pets.
  • Detergents, shampoos, and household cleaning products: The cleaning products that we use around the house can also cause our pets some worry. This is particularly relevant coming into the warmer months as we start spring cleaning in our homes.
  • Food: Similar to humans, many cats and dogs are allergic to ingredients in their food. The most common perpetrators include: grains and cereals; meat proteins such as beef, fish, and chicken; starchy vegetables; and soy.

 Common Symptoms of Allergic Dermatitis

The most common symptoms of this painful skin condition include:

  • Itchy, red, and inflamed skin
  • Unusual skin odour or discolouration
  • Licking, chewing, rubbing, or nipping at painful patches of skin
  • The appearance of hot spots, an itchy and moist skin rash also known as moist dermatitis
  • Raised bumps, crusts or small blisters on the skin
  • Loss of hair in the affected areas
  • Thickened, calloused skin from itching
  • Head shaking, which usually indicates that the ears are inflamed or sore
  • Discoloured or saliva-stained fur
  • Rough, dull coat
  • Depression

If your pet displays any of these symptoms or you are concerned that they may be experiencing allergic dermatitis, please book an appointment with your vet.