If you have a dog that is constantly scratching, licking his paws, or shaking his head, then they may be suffering from a condition called atopy or allergic dermatitis. When dogs are allergic to something they don’t generally sneeze or have a runny nose like we do. They get ITCHY! And because their skin is constantly itchy and inflamed, this can lead to chronic skin and ear infections. Your dog can be allergic to almost anything, some examples are pollen, grass, cleaning products, scents, dust mites, etc. If you suspect that your pet has atopy don’t hesitate to book an appointment with one of our veterinarians.

So this month’s blog is for pets that have been already diagnosed with allergies. It’s all about small changes you can make that will help your itchy pet. If you yourself suffer from seasonal or dust allergies, then you know that it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid any of the offending allergens! But you can make a few changes in your home and daily life to help reduce your symptoms. Well the same goes for your dog. So these changes will never 100% eliminate your dog’s itchiness, but they can help decrease it.

So here a few changes you can make in your home to help relieve some of your pet’s symptoms:


  1. Give your allergic pet frequent baths. They are different than dogs without allergies. We recommend a once to twice weekly bath for your itchy pet. It removes any allergens that are sitting on their fur.
  2. Put a T-shirt on your pet when they go outside- especially in the spring when the pollen count is high.
  3. Keep your pet off grass as much as possible, especially after its first cut! And keep your dog in the house when you, or your neighbors, are mowing the lawn.
  4. Vacuum and dust your home frequently, and don’t forget to vacuum your curtains and fabric-covered furniture. A HEPA-filter vacuum is best.
  5. Don’t use a typical dog bed for your allergic dog. We recommend using several blankets piled up, as they can easily be washed in hot water once a week.
  6. We recommend to not let your pet sleep in your bed, but if you still want them too, we recommend frequent washing in hot water (at least every 4 weeks) of all your bedding- including comforters, duvets, etc. Buy a microporous mattress cover for your bed if possible.
  7. Don’t smoke in your home.
  8. Air conditioning helps your allergic pet to keep the humidity under control if it’s feasible for your family.
  9. We recommend buying your pet food in smaller bags, as it is less likely to become contaminated with storage mites (a type of dust). If you like to buy the food in bulk, then freeze most of it. Keep a small amount out in an airtight container and feed the pet from that bag first. Take the food that is next to be fed to the animal out of the freezer and place it in an air-tight container to thaw.


By Dr. Beth Martin