Seeing your fur baby itchy and uncomfortable can be concerning. Not to mention irritating when you have to hear your pup scratching and gnawing at their skin all day.

All you want is to relieve their sore and inflamed skin. While topical creams or antihistamine medication can ease their itchy allergy symptoms, probiotics may also help combat the deeper problem: their gut.

Can dog probiotics improve skin health? The root cause of allergies may stem from a microbial imbalance in the digestive system. Merely slapping cream on may be a waste of money if the immune system isn't supported. 

Kick back as we discuss dog skin allergies and how canine probiotics may be the solution to happy, moisturized, and calm skin in your pooch. 

What are Skin Allergies in Dogs?

dog skin allergies

If your dog comes in contact with certain foods, parasites, or environmental substances like pollen, the immune system can identify the substance as a threat. Medical professionals refer to this unwanted irritant as an allergen. 

To protect the body, the immune system malfunctions and overreacts, causing adverse reactions and behavioral changes. It does this to try and protect the body against the perceived danger.

Symptoms of Skin Allergies

When the skin is reacting to an allergen, you may identify the following allergy symptoms in your pooch: 

  • Incessant biting and scratching specific areas on their skin

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

  • Hair loss

  • Chronic ear infections

  • Sneezing, coughing, and runny nose

  • Bacterial infections on open sores

  • Gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome, loose stool, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, cramps. 

Three Causes of Dog Skin Allergies

What's irritating your pup? Finding out what is triggering an unwelcome allergic reaction in your dog may require a process of elimination. 

1. Flea Allergies

Dealing with fleas in your furry friends can be a pain, and regular maintenance is necessary to keep the little critters at bay. Once you've rid your pet of fleas, treat their irritated skin. 

2. Dog Food Allergies

A surprising 20 percent of skin health issues are related to food. Evidence suggests that nutrition and diet that positively serves the gut microbiome may impact gastrointestinal disease, allergies, oral health, weight management, diabetes, and kidney disease.

3. Environment or Seasonal Allergies

Do your dog's allergies flare up during different seasons in the year. Pollen, dry weather, pesticides, mold, and dust can trigger an inflammatory response in you or your pet. 

Atopic Dermatitis

All of the above allergies can cause 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. 

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. 

Treating a Dog's Skin Allergies

Treating a Dog's Skin Allergies

If you've noticed skin redness and irritation in your pet, then your first reaction may be to treat the symptoms. You can do this in several ways.

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.

  • Apple cider vinegar is 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 is 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. 

  • Essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus oil, niaouli (a great 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. 

  • Coconut oil offers medium-chain fatty acids that have antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil aids skin health and provide inflammatory relief when topically applied. 

  • 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. 

Medications for Skin Allergies

For severe allergic reactions, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to get the symptoms under control. These can include corticosteroids, antihistamine, or immunomodulatory drugs.

The medications will be effective in suppressing allergy-type symptoms. Unfortunately, they often have nasty side effects and do not deal with the weak immune system that is causing the body to respond to allergens in the first place.

Instead, allergy shots or pills overpower the immune system for a short time so that everything seems okay. But once they wear off, the skin allergy may return.

Long-term use of the drugs, as mentioned earlier, can also cause adverse reactions in your pet: diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, and change in hair quality.

The Problem Comes From Within

Treating skin allergy symptoms is vital in preventing your fur baby from scratching and causing more harm to the skin surface. But the restricted treatment of drugs and ointments will not deal with the cause – a weak immune system.

Speak to your vet about how to support your dog's immune system and eliminate allergic reactions. One way to do this is to improve the gut bacteria population. 

Probiotics for Dog Skin Allergies

The conversation around the use of probiotics often relates to gut health and GI tract issues like diarrhea and upset stomach. The best probiotics can undoubtedly help restore balance to healthy gut bacteria, but they also improve the host's overall health and immune system. This can have an impact on skin and coat health, bad breath, and tummy troubles. 

A probiotic supplement contains live bacterial microorganisms. When your pooch ingests the good bacteria, they help their host (your dog) by bringing balance to the microorganisms community by overwhelming the harmful bacteria. 

How Can Probiotics for Dogs Help Skin Allergies? 

How Can Probiotics for Dogs Help Skin Allergies

Allergies are essentially immune disorders, so supporting the immune system is the best thing you can do for your furry friends. 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 clinical trial by the American Journal of Veterinary Research found that a probiotic strain called Lactobacillus rhamnosus effectively reduced immune reactions of atopic dermatitis in genetically predisposed dogs when administered in utero or during the puppy stage of a dog's life.

  • A 2012 follow-up of the 2009 study confirmed that there were long-term immunological effects by exposing puppies to probiotics. 

  • The Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition looked at obese cats and found that their gut microbiome was different from lean felines. Obesity is a significant problem with dogs and cats, and by using probiotics, the gut health balance is supported, reducing the chance of obesity. What does this have to do with skin health, you may ask? Obesity is associated with various other conditions, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, and, you guessed it, skin disorders.

  • A review by the Frontiers of Immunology stated that "the microbiome can be considered a therapeutical target for treating inflammatory diseases." They go on to mention that "interventions with probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics seem promising for the development of a preventive therapy by restoring altered microbiome functionality." While this review was specific to human allergies, similar results may be observed in canines. 

  • Veterinary experts of the Clinical Microbiology and Biomedical Sciences carried out a 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. 

How to Choose the Best Probiotics for Dog Skin Allergies

Before you give your dog a probiotic, check out this list of "must haves."

A Rich Collection of Probiotic Species

The best probiotics for dogs include around 3-4 strains of probiotic cultures. Single strains won't be as effective. Some probiotics (like Bacilli) survive against digestive enzymes and work their magic in the dog's gut.

Others only live for the duration of their journey through the body. Supplements that offer various probiotics are favorable for yourself and your pet, meeting multiple needs. 

A study by the University of Florida confirmed the benefits of the combined probiotics strains: lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. When taken by people suffering mild seasonal allergies, they saw a drastic drop in allergy-related symptoms. For pets, the combination of these lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains may also assist with allergies. 

Pick a Product that Includes Prebiotics

Probiotics need prebiotics to survive. You cannot have one without the other. Our Honest Paws Pre+ Probiotic contains lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains and chicory root prebiotics that feeds probiotic bacteria in the body. 

Choose a Probiotic That is Easy to Give Your Pet

You can purchase probiotics for dogs that come in powder form or edible chews and tasty treats for doggie taste buds. Pick a pre-measured dose that is convenient to offer your pet. Remember that probiotics are live cultures, so you want to store them according to label instructions. 

Free of Other Allergens

Choosing a chew or treat maybe be your first choice, but remember to pick a product free of common allergens like dairy, grains, soy, and single proteins. If your pet has a food allergy, you'll already be in the habit of checking product labels. 

Probiotic Dosage for Skin Allergies

While your pet may receive probiotics from their food, select a supplement that is rich in millions of colony-forming units (CFU). The best probiotic products for dogs will state the estimated amount of live CFU on their label, making sure your doggo receives millions of good bacteria in each dose. 

Generally, dogs need around 1-4 billion CF per day for gut health upkeep. For dogs with severe allergies, you can try a higher dose. 

Probiotic for Dogs, Final Thoughts 

Probiotic for Dog 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. The friendly gut bacteria work very hard to digest food and ward off harmful bacteria that cause sickness.

Rather than sticking a band-aid on skin allergy irritations, 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!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can probiotics help dogs with allergies?

Yes, probiotic products can help dogs by supporting the immune response and reducing protective antibodies' overreaction. 

What is the best supplement for dogs with itchy skin?

For pets, a probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains may assist with allergies. 

What is best for dogs with skin allergies?

The best probiotic products for dogs will state the estimated amount of live CFU on their label, making sure your doggo receives millions of good bacteria in each dose. Generally, dogs need around 1-4 billion CF per day for gut health upkeep.

How can I treat my dog's skin allergies naturally?

Natural home remedies or supplements can ease allergies and soothe symptoms of atopic dermatitis. CBD oil, coconut oil, essential oils, or apple cider vinegar are among the many home remedies that can relieve dog skin allergies.