Itching and scratching are everyday issues in dogs with skin allergies. In this article, we will answer a popular question – can dog probiotics improve a dog's skin health? 

The root cause of allergies might be a microbial imbalance in the digestive system. Just putting cream on the itchy skin may be a waste of money if the immune system is not supported. And probiotics do precisely that – support the immune system

In this article we discuss dog skin allergies and how canine probiotics may be the solution to happy, moisturized, calm, and allergy-free skin in your pup. 

Do Probiotics Help with Dog Allergies?

dog skin allergies

Yes, probiotic supplements can help dogs with allergies by supporting the immune system and reducing the antibodies' tendency to overreact, thus triggering exaggerated immune responses. 

Probiotics support good bacteria and can help restore gut balance. However, they can also improve the host's overall health and immune system. This has a positive impact on various levels, including skin and coat health, digestion, bad breath, and tummy troubles. 

Benefits of Probiotics for Dog Skin Allergies

Allergies are essentially immune disorders, so supporting the immune system is the best thing you can do for your dog. 

Probiotics do just that and provide a gentle and effective way to combat dog allergies from the within. Let's look at what the experts have to say on the topic:

  • A 2009 trial by the American Journal of Veterinary Research found that Lactobacillus rhamnosus effectively reduced immune reactions of atopic dermatitis in genetically predisposed dogs when administered in utero or during the puppy life stage.

  • A 2012 follow-up of the 2009 study confirmed the existence of long-term immunological effects by exposing puppies to probiotics early in life. 

  • The Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition found that the gut microbiome in obese cats is different than in lean felines. This is important as obesity is associated with various conditions (diabetes, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, and skin disorders). 

  • A review by the Frontiers of Immunology stated that "the microbiome can be considered a therapeutical target for treating inflammatory diseases." While this review was specific to human allergies, similar results may be observed in canines. 

  • Veterinary experts of the Clinical Microbiology and Biomedical Sciences conducted a clinical trial that looked at the probiotic strain, Lactobacillus sakei, and its impact on atopic dermatitis. They found that the probiotic reduced the disease severity in dogs. 

Are Probiotics Good for Dogs with Skin Allergies?

Yes, probiotics are good for dogs with skin allergies as they modulate the immune system and provide allergy symptoms relief. 

However, before adding a probiotic to your dog's allergy management strategy, talk to your trusted veterinarian. The vet will help you choose the best probiotic formula for your dog's individual needs. 

What is Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs?

Treating a Dog's Skin Allergies

All allergies have the potential to trigger Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD). Atopic dermatitis is a disease associated with a high count of IgE. IgE stands for "Immunoglobulin E" and is a protective antibody produced by the immune system. 

When a mammal has an allergic reaction, the IgE antibodies cause an allergic response to fight off the threatening allergen. In atopic dermatitis, the dog's immune system overproduces IgE antibodies leading to a more severe allergic reaction. 

Canine Atopic Dermatitis causes redness and swelling of the skin. It's itchy and irritating and looks like eczema. Untreated, it can lead to dandruff, deteriorated coat health, crusts and sores, dry skin, yeast infections, and behavioral agitation. 

Causes & Signs of Dog Skin Allergies

Dog allergies can be caused by different irritants – substances or chemicals capable of triggering an excessive immune response. Foods, parasites, and pollen are common irritants. 

Based on what is causing the allergic reaction, there are three types of skin allergies: 

  • Flea Allergies. Dealing with fleas in your pet can be a pain, and regular maintenance is necessary to keep the little critters at bay. In addition to causing irritations, flea saliva can act as an allergen. In a sensitive dog, even one flea bite is enough to trigger a severe allergic reaction. To manage the problem, get rid of the fleas and then treat the irritated skin. In the long run, keep your dog up-to-date on flea preventives. 

  • Dog Food Allergies. A surprising 20 percent of skin issues are related to food. Dogs can be allergic to meat (beef, chicken, pork), dairy products, eggs, grains (oat, corn, wheat, gluten), or artificial preservatives and additives used in dry and canned dog food formulas. Statistically speaking, German Shepherds and Labradors are the two dog breeds most likely to develop food allergies. 

  • Environment or Seasonal Allergies. Do your dog's allergies flare up during different seasons in the year? If they do, you are dealing with a seasonal allergy. Pollen, dry weather, pesticides, mold, and dust are all common allergens capable of triggering an inflammatory response in your pet. Although periodically active, these allergies are hard to manage as the exposure to allergens is hard to minimize. 

 A dog with one of these allergies is likely to manifest the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Incessant biting and scratching specific areas on the body 

  • Sores (hot spots), scabs, and raised skin irritation

  • Decreased hair quality and hair loss

  • Chronic ear infections

  • Sneezing, coughing, and runny nose

  • Bacterial infections on open sores

  • GI tract issues (irritable bowels, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, cramps)

How Long does it Take for Probiotics to Work for Dog Skin Allergies? 

How Can Probiotics for Dogs Help Skin Allergies

Probiotics work by supporting the gut bacteria in the dog’s digestive system and preventing harmful bacteria overgrowth. Probiotics promote gut health and become active as soon as they reach the dog’s stomach and intestines. 

However, the skin benefits do not kick in that fast. In most cases, it will take a couple of weeks of probiotic supplementation before you can see an improvement in your dog's skin condition and your pup experiences relief from the allergy symptoms. 

This is because instead of covering up or masking the symptoms like most traditional anti-allergy medications and treatments, probiotics work on a deeper level and address the root cause. 

Using Probiotics for Your Dog's Skin Allergy Treatment 

Since the effects of the probiotics cannot be seen immediately, they often need to be combined with other anti-allergy treatment options. 

Keep in mind that these treatments target the symptom (itchy skin) and not the cause (imbalanced immune system). 

The traditional treatment options can be classified into two categories: 

  • Natural remedies for sore skin 

  • Medications for skin allergies

Natural Remedies for Sore Skin. Natural home remedies or supplements can ease allergies and soothe symptoms of atopic dermatitis. 

  • CBD Oil contains helpful cannabinoids from the hemp plant. These cannabinoids support the endocannabinoid system and bring homeostasis to various functions throughout the body. CBD oil may soothe skin-related issues associated with seasonal dog allergies.

  • Hemp seed oil - is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega 6 fatty acid. It can do wonders for hair and skin health.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – excellent for the prevention of fleas, yeast infections, and ear infections. Even though the vinegar is acidic, when diluted with some water, it can ease itchiness. Prepare a bath with some ACV to help your pet gain some much-needed relief. 

  • Salmon Oil – a perfect addition to the diet of any dog who is prone to skin infections. It helps to build a strong barrier of allergy-immune cells. The omega 3 fatty acids in the fish oil reduce inflammation in itchy skin and restore the skin's moisture content from the inside.

  • Coconut Oil – offers medium-chain fatty acids that have antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil supports skin health and provides inflammatory relief when applied topically.

  • Essential Oils – lavender, eucalyptus oil, niaouli (an excellent substitute for tea tree which is toxic for dogs), sweet marjoram, cedarwood, and carrot seed can all provide relief for itchy skin. Always remember to dilute the oils before applying them to your dog's skin. 

  • Oatmeal – is soothing to itchy and irritated skin. Plus, giving your pup an oatmeal bath is extremely easy – just gently rub the oatmeal directly into the irritated areas, let it soak for around 10 minutes, and rinse the mixture with warm water.

Medications for Skin Allergies. For severe allergic reactions, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to get the symptoms under control. These can include:

  • Corticosteroids

  • Antihistamines

  • Immunomodulatory drugs

These meds are effective in suppressing allergy-type symptoms. They overpower the immune system for a short time so that everything seems okay. But once they wear off, the skin allergy may return.

Plus, they often have nasty side effects (diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, lethargy) and do not deal with the weak immune system that is causing the body to respond to allergens in the first place.

How to Choose the Best Probiotic for Dog Skin Allergies

Probiotic for Dog Allergies

When in search of the best probiotic for dog skin allergies, there are several things you need to consider. Here is a short checklist to make things easier. 

Several Strains of Bacteria. The best probiotics for dogs include around 3-4 strains of probiotic cultures like Bifidobacterium animalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus coagulans, Lactobacillus casei, or Lactobacillus plantarum.

Number of Colony Forming Units (CFU). Generally, dogs need between 1 and 4 billion CFUs per day for gut health upkeep. For dogs with severe allergies, most vets recommend higher dosages.  

Inclusion of Prebiotics. Probiotics need prebiotics (dietary fiber) to survive. Many probiotic supplements include chicory root as a natural prebiotic. In addition, some formulas include vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, quercetin (popularly known as Nature's Benadryl), and antioxidants. 

Free from Allergens. Pick a product free of common allergens like dairy, grains, soy, and single proteins. You do not want the added ingredients worsening your dog's condition. 

Probiotic Supplement Form. Probiotics come in different forms – powders, capsules, chewable treats, liquids. Choose the probiotic form that is easy for you to use and acceptable for your dog. It is more convenient to choose a probiotic with premeasured doses.

Finally, for boosted efficacy, you can combine the probiotic supplement with natural probiotic foods like Greek yogurt and kefir. 

What is the Best Probiotic for Dogs with Skin Allergies?

The Honest Paws Pre + Probiotic checks all boxes for safety, efficacy, and quality. It is made with superior ingredients and manufactured in the USA. 

The supplement includes different strains of bacteria (Bacillus coagulans and subtilis, Lactobacillus plantarum and acidophilus, Bifidobacterium animalis and longum), Solarplast (spinach leaf extract), and a prebiotic (chicory-derived inulin).

Plus, the supplement features a natural roasted chicken flavor and comes pre-packed in individual single-dose sachets for easy use and administration. 

Our Final Thoughts on Probiotics for Dog Skin Allergies 

We encourage all pet owners to add dog probiotics to their pet's wellness routine. It's natural, safe, and free of horrible side effects. 

Probiotics heal your dog's gut. Replenishing probiotic bacteria can be done daily to improve and maintain your pet's health. 

A healthy gut shows in the quality of your pet's skin. Why not reach for some dog probiotics today? Healthy gut, happy dog, beautiful skin!