Fooding for Life

Comprehensive overview of Allergies in Pets ..

Itchy Skin in Mutts Pups and Nobles
The most common skin disorder we come across daily when meeting new pet parents and fur kids is allergic (atopic) dermatitis , or more correctly, canine atopic dermatitis (CAD). This condition results in itchiness after exposure to environmental (usually airborne) allergens (foreign protein that induce allergies). We discuss this topic in great detail.

The most common skin disorder we come across daily when meeting new pet parents and fur kids is allergic (atopic) dermatitis , or more correctly, canine atopic dermatitis (CAD). As discussed in length in his book by Dr Messonnier titled, “Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats”, states that this condition results in itchiness after exposure to environmental (usually airborne) allergens (foreign protein that induce allergies).

Adverse reactions to food consist of two different responses: immune-mediated and non-immune-mediated. The disease caused by the former is called food allergy and is a type-IV hypersensitivity reaction, whereas the latter reaction is recognized simply as food intolerance.

True food allergies are quite rare in pets.

While sometimes complicated, allergies are the best understood of all unwanted food reactions because they always involve immune system reactions to specific components in foods. If you have an allergic response to a food, certain proteins in your immune system identify and bind together with specific components (called antigens) in foods. While food antigens are typically protein-like in nature, our, and our pets’, immune system can mount an allergic response to some carbohydrates in foods, as well as some fat-plus-carbohydrate-containing molecules (called lipopolysaccharides). Still, in every one of these situations, our immune system gets involved in a food allergy, and, because it does, levels of immunoglobulins in our blood can be measured to document the allergenic response. However, even though blood work can be used to help identify a food allergy, this blood work is not always conclusive, since food allergy tests can often show “false positive” results in which a food allergy is not actually present, and the immune system has reacted to some other non-food molecule.

Food intolerances, in which the pet develops an allergic response to a non-nutrient in the food, such as additives, coloring, flavour enhancers and preservatives, however, is increasing based on our daily interactions. While dietary therapy is not a mainstay in the treatment of itchy pets, feeding the best, most natural and holistic diet possible is recommended. All pets, regardless of the presence of disease, benefit from eating the best diet.

Supplements work best when fed with a good diet. Supplements form the foundation of the treatment of many pets with allergic dermatitis, so feeding the best diet to these pets is indicated.

Some pets experience modest to dramatic improvement in their skin disorders (such as less itching, less flakiness, less redness, or less body odour) when fed a wholesome diet, even when the diagnosis of “food allergy” is not technically the correct diagnosis. This may be the result of contamination of the commercially purchased diet with additives, chemical preservatives, pesticides, or hormones. It may also occur as the result of processing the food, which removes nutrients from the diet and alters the nutrients. For example, heating of the foods to temperatures over 200 degrees’ Celsius causes an increased level of trans-fatty acids. Many foods contain increased levels of Omega-6 fatty acids relative to Omega-3 fatty acids; increased Omega-6 fatty acids predispose to inflammation. Because a wholesome diet designed to be hypo-allergenic is also available in raw format, dietary therapy is often recommended for pets with skin disorders.

Food intolerances are less clear-cut than food allergies. One thing that we have learned to date is that food intolerance are not the same as food allergies, and they are not dependent on interactions between food antigens and our immune system. In fact, a food intolerance is not dependent on any single interaction, and for this reason, it tends to be less predictable than food allergy and also less consistent.

Perhaps the best known example of food intolerance is lactose intolerance in humans. Since one entire category of food intolerances work in the same way as lactose intolerance, it is worth taking a close look at lactose intolerance and how this process occurs.

Lactose is a sugar that is present primarily in milk of mammals, including cows. For this reason, lactose is often referred to as “milk sugar“. Lactose is a compound sugar made up of glucose and galactose. In technical terms, it is called a disaccharide. Unless we can break lactose apart into glucose and galactose within our digestive tract, we cannot fully digest most milk or milk products. The way that lactose gets broken apart within our digestive tract is with the help of an enzyme called lactase. If enough lactase is present to break apart the amount of lactose present in the food, we do not become lactose intolerant. We are able to tolerate lactose because we have enough of the enzyme (lactase) to break apart the amount of lactose that we consume. However, this “if” can be a big “if“. Many people do not have enough lactase enzyme in their digestive tract to break down the substantial amounts of lactose that they consume.

Lactose intolerance is just one example of an enzyme-related food intolerance. It is possible for a person (or fur kid) to have an equal amount of difficulty breaking apart other sugars found in food.

To evaluate the response of a pet with a suspected reaction to food, it is necessary to feed the hypo-allergenic diet, and nothing else, for at least 8 weeks, 12 weeks recommended. Fresh water (or distilled water) should be used during this period. No treats or table scraps can be given to the pet, or the 8-week dietary trial must begin again.

Environment-related cross reactions are closely related to allergies since they always involve the activity of our immune system. At its most basic level, cross reactivity involves the ability of our immune system to recognize similarities between all types of allergens regardless of their source. Earlier in this section, we focused specifically on food allergens that our immune system gets exposed to through the process of eating. But things we do not eat can also contain allergens, and if these allergens closely resemble certain protein structures in our food, cross reactions can occur. When cross reactions occur, our immune system ends up responding to a second protein structure in the same way that it responded to the initial allergen. For example, we might breathe in pollen from a birch tree during the season in which birch trees release their pollen. Inside of birch pollen is a potential allergen called Bet v 1. Our immune system can react to this birch pollen allergen, and as a result, we can end up with a seasonal allergy to this tree pollen allergy.

Now let’s consider the food side of this cross reaction. Inside the protein structure of an apple, there is a protein molecule called Mal d 1. This molecule is similar to the Bet v 1 molecule found in birch pollen, and it can also act as an allergen. Because our immune system can recognize the similarity between the Mal d 1 molecule in apples and the Bet v 1 molecule in birch pollen​1​ , we huumans can end up not only with a seasonal tree pollen allergy, but with a year-round allergy to apples as well​2​ . This phenomenon is referred to as a cross reaction, and in this case, it involves a cross reaction between an inhaled molecule in the environment (birch tree pollen), and a molecule in food (apple allergen).

Environment-food cross reactions can be as complicated or even more complicated to recognize as food allergies and food intolerances. On the environment side, they might be seasonal and only a problem during certain times of year. On the food side, they are likely to be year round, and may involve a half dozen or more foods. Due to all of these complicating factors, cross reactions may often require the help of your integrated vet to correctly identify.

The most common reason for failing to improve is one of two causes:

  • The pet’s itching is not related to food allergy / hypersensitivity;
  • Or the pet parent rushes the dietary trial and does not give the pet at least 8 weeks to see whether the hyper-allergenic diet will work.

Commercial vitamins and minerals, which most often contain flavouring, are added after the trial diet and after the pet has been assessed for any reaction to these supplements.

To summarise:

  • Allergies can either be attributed to food intolerances or dermatitis;
  • Food intolerances are becoming common, as observed by us daily, and the best approach is dietary therapy;

Diagnosing dermatitis can be extremely difficult and time consuming as there are five different canine skin allergies. We discuss these in more detail below.

What is the difference between Food Allergies and Food Sensitivity?

Dr Jean Dodds published an excellent blog article (see: Food Sensitivity vs. Food Allergy: Is It Not Really Just the Same Thing? Dr Dodds (Article)) that will help pet parents in understanding the differences. We are often “reminded” by pet parents with difficult pets, and their vets, that food “allergies” are in fact the cause for the fur kids discomfort, whilst we know that this is not the case. The real disappointment comes when the pet parent agrees to switch the fur kids back to commercial kibble-based products to appease the vet.

  • Food allergies reflect a more immediate immunological response. A classic example of a food allergy is anaphylactic shock caused by peanuts: as soon as the person or animal comes in contact with the allergen – the peanuts – their airway closes and they cannot breathe. This response is virtually instantaneous. Boom! The antigen (in this case, peanuts) triggers an immediate, and sometimes life-threatening, immunological and physiological reaction. Rashes, hives and swollen eyes are examples of less severe – but also serious – allergic responses. These are all called Type I hypersensitivity reactions. In the blood, they show up as antibodies to immunoglobulins E (IgE) and G (IgG) working together with immune complexes.
  • Food sensitivity (or intolerance), on the other hand, is typically a chronic condition and often does not involve an immunological response. It generally builds up over time – perhaps even after months or years of exposure to the offending food. Food sensitivity is caused by Types II and III hypersensitivity reactions. They show up in saliva or faeces as antibodies to immunoglobulins A (IgA) and M (IgM). By detecting IgA and IgM antibodies, food sensitivity testing is able to clearly identify the specific food(s) causing the sensitivity or intolerance. It can also differentiate between food sensitivity and food allergy.

Although they are generally not life-threatening, food sensitivities can affect many different aspects of the dog’s physical well being. Common signs of food sensitivity include:

  • GI tract issues similar to Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBD);
  • Chronic scratching itchy skin;
  • Chronic burping and gas rumblings (borborigmi);
  • Chronic skin, ear and foot infections, especially with yeast;

The first step in providing the proper relief to the fur kids’ with food sensitivities is to accurately identify the offending ingredient(s). With the proper information, you can begin feeding your fur kid a diet that agrees with his body, and he can get back to doing what he does best – being a dog.

Atopic Dermatitis

Veterinarians rank atopic dermatitis as being the most common allergy affecting dogs, and usually presents when the dog is young. Atopy as it can often be called is triggered by a variety of different antigens, for instance, dust, mould, pollens and other airborne and surface organic materials. The dog may appear healthy with no visible symptoms and then start scratching and chewing intensely and in some cases until the skin is raw, broken and bleeding.

Parasitic Dermatitis

Usually presents with the dog constantly scratching, pawing and chewing. Fleas are again the main cause of parasitic dermatitis  as well as mites, deer fleas, gnats, chiggers and ticks to a far lesser degree. Sarcoptes and Cheyletiella mites  are particularly nasty and usually cause a severe reaction resulting in scabs forming in the affected areas. The Demodex mite normally attacks young dogs or puppies that have an immune disorder, poor nutrition or live in a harsh environment, or have a protein deficiency.

Bacterial or Yeast Infections

Candida albicans is the most common micro-organism growing in all dogs’ stomachs. When an over growth occurs it causes a pH-imbalance. This happens as a result of poor nutrition, heartworm medication, thyroid problem, genetic and / or environmental stress, and in some cases long term antibiotic medication. The external symptoms of bacterial and yeast infections  usually present as constant itching and licking of paws, genital area, and redness and inflammation. There may also be an odour between the toes, the inner thighs and the dogs’ underarms.

Nutritional Dermatitis

Nutritional dermatitis is probably the most common of all canine skin allergies and is the result of poor nutrition. You may be buying a commercial brand dog food labelled appropriately but is missing the correct vitamins and nutrients.

Neurogenic Dermatitis

Obsessive and persistent chewing and licking characterises this form of dermatitis, and is often the result of frustration, confinement or separation anxiety.

General Discussion

As discussed by Dr. Messonnier in his book, the typical allergic pet itches but has normal appearing skin. This helps differentiate atopy from other diseases that cause itchiness but also cause skin lesions (abrasions, wounds, injuries, gashes) (mange, flea allergies, bacterial infections, yeast infections, skin cancer). The itchiness can be mild, moderate, or severe; but most allergic pets do not start off with severe itching. A pet with severe itching is more likely to have mange, fleas, or food allergies.

Many dogs and cats with allergies also have flea allergies and chronic bacterial infections. Chronic skin infections are so common in allergic dogs that every dog with chronic skin infections should be screened for atopy and hormonal diseases such as hypothyroidism, another overlooked underlying disorder. Because allergic skin is not “normal” skin, it is prone to secondary infections.

Secondary yeast infections are therefore becoming increasingly common in atopic dogs. Most of the time the yeast “Malassezia”  is the contributing agent. Dogs with secondary yeast infections are typically quite itchy, greasy with greasy yellow scales, red, and quite smelly. Yeast infections are often misdiagnosed but should be considered in any dog with the aforementioned clinical signs.

Under the next heading, we list the various skin common conditions in more detail. The itchy skin diseases in the first part (Table 1: Itchy Skin Diseases in Dogs) are characterized by constant scratching, biting at the skin, and rubbing up against objects to relieve the itch.

The next two sections, (Table 2: Hormone-Related Diseases with Hair Loss in dogs, Table 3: Other Diseases with Hair Loss in dogs) list diseases characterized by hair loss with few if any other signs. Hair loss can mean impaired growth of new hair. It may involve the entire coat, or you may see patches of hair loss on certain parts of the body. In general, hair loss caused by hormonal diseases is symmetric (the same on both sides of the body), while that caused by parasites and other causes is asymmetric.

The next heading (Table 4: Skin Diseases with Pus Drainage) lists diseases in which the predominant sign is skin infection or pyoderma . Pyoderma is characterized by pus, infected sores, scabs, ulcers of the skin, papules, pustules, furuncles, boils, and skin abscesses. As stated before, the skin infection is often secondary to some other skin disease, particularly an itchy skin disease that causes your fur kid to attack her own skin.

After that, the following section (Table 5: Autoimmune and Immune-Mediated Skin Diseases in dogs) lists autoimmune and immune-mediated skin diseases, characterized by blebs . Blebs, also called vesicles, are blisters that contain clear fluid. Large ones are called bullae. All tend to progress through rubbing, biting, and scratching, eventually producing skin erosions, ulcers, and crusts. Look for these changes to appear first on the face, nose, muzzle, and ears.

During the course of grooming, playing with, or handling your fur kid, you may discover a lump or bump on or beneath the skin. To learn what it may be, see the last section (Table 6: Lumps and Bumps on or Beneath the Skin in dogs) on lumps or bumps on or beneath the skin. Tumours and cancers, contains more information on this.

The list below is not exhaustive.

As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.

Table 1: Itchy Skin Diseases in Dogs

ConditionShort Description
Allergic contact dermatitis [ref]Skin Rash Due to Contact with Irritants in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Same as contact dermatitis, but rash may spread beyond the area of contact. Requires repeated or continuous exposure to allergen (such as wearing a flea collar).
Canine atopy [ref]Atopic Dermatitis Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments (PetMD)[/ref]Severe itching that occurs in young dogs and begins in late summer and fall. Caused by seasonal pollens. Occurs in mixed breeds as well as purebreds. Common. Tends to get worse each year. May start with face rubbing and foot chewing.
Chiggers [ref]Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Itching and severe skin irritation between the toes and around the ears and mouth. Look for barely visible red, yellow, or orange chiggers.
Contact dermatitisRed, itchy bumps and inflamed skin at the site of contact with a chemical, detergent, paint. or other irritant. Primarily affects feet and hairless parts of the body. Can also be caused by rubber or plastic food dishes, with hair loss on the nose.
Damp hay itch (pelodera)Red pimple like bumps on skin. Severe itching. Occurs in dogs bedded on damp hay and similar grass. Caused by a parasite.
Flea allergy dermatitis [ref]Flea Allergies in Dogs (Flea Allergy Dermatitis) (PetMD)[/ref]Red, itchy pimple like bumps over the base of the tail, back of rear legs, and inner thighs. Scratching continues after fleas have been killed.
FleasItching and scratching along the back, and around the tail and hindquarters. Look for fleas, or black and white gritty specks in hair (flea faeces and eggs).
Fly-bite dermatitisPainful bites at tips of erect ears and bent surfaces of floppy ears. Bites become scabbed and crusty black, and bleed easily.
Food allergy dermatitis [ref]Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Non-seasonal itching with reddened skin, papules, pustules, and wheals. Found over the ears, rump, back of the legs, and under surface of the body. Sometimes confined just to the ears with moist, weeping redness.
Grubs / Cuterebra [ref]Botflies (Maggots) in Cats (PetMD)[/ref]Inch-long fly larvae that form cyst-like lumps beneath the skin with a hole in the centre for the insect to breathe. Often found beneath the chin, by the ears, or along the abdomen.
LiceTwo-millimetre-long insects, or white grains of “sand” (nits) attached to the hair. Not common. Found in dogs with matted coats. May have bare spots where hair has been rubbed off.
Lick granuloma (acral pruritic dermatitis) [ref]Acral Lick Dermatitis (PetMD)[/ref]Red, shiny skin ulcer caused by continuous licking at wrist or ankle. Mainly in large, short-coated breeds.
MaggotsSoft-bodied, legless fly larvae found in damp matted fur or wounds that aren’t kept clean.
Scabies (sarcoptic mange) [ref]Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Intense itching. Small red spots that look like insect bites on the skin of the ears, elbows, and hocks. Typical crusty ear tips.
TicksLarge or very small insects attached to the skin. May swell up to the size of a pea. Found beneath the ear flaps and where hair is thin. May or may not induce itching.
Walking dandruff (cheyletiella mange) [ref]Skin Mite Dermatitis in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Occurs in puppies 2 to 12 weeks of age. Large amounts of dry, scaly, flaky skin over the neck and back. Itching is variable.

Table 2: Hormone Related Diseases with Hair Loss in Dogs

ConditionShort Description
Cortisone excessSymmetric hair loss over trunk and body. Abdomen is pot-bellied and pendulous. Seen with Cushing’s syndrome. In some cases, the dog is taking steroids.
Growth hormone-responsive alopeciaBilaterally symmetric hair loss, mainly in male dogs. Begins around puberty. More prevalent in certain breeds, including Chow Chows, Keeshonds, Pomeranians, Miniature Poodles, Airedales, and Boxers.
Hyperestrogenism (estrogen excess) [ref]Baldness and Hormone-Related Skin Disorders in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Occurs in females and males. Bilateral symmetric hair loss in perineum and around genitals. Enlarged vulva and clitoris; in males, pendulous prepuce. Seen in intact male dogs with testicular tumours (e.g. seminoma) and cryptorchidism - more common in the Boxer, Shetland Sheepdog, Weimaraner, German Shepherd, Cairn Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Pekingese and Collie. Male pseudohermaphrodite - affecting Miniature Schnauzer - associated with testicular tumours in intact, non-neutered males
Hypoestrogenism (estrogen deficiency) [ref]Hair Loss Due to Lack of Growth Hormone in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Occurs in older spayed females. Scanty hair growth and thinning coat, initially around vulva and later over entire body. Skin is smooth and soft, like a baby’s. More common in the Boxer and Dachshund. Variant - cyclical flank baldness and darkening of the skin in the Airedale, Boxer and English Bulldog.
Hypothyroidism [ref]Thyroid Hormone Deficiency in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Most common cause of bilaterally symmetric hair loss without itching. Coat is thin, scanty, and falls out easily. Involves the neck beneath the chin to the brisket, sides of body, backs of thighs, and top of tail.

Table 3: Other Diseases with Hair Loss in Dogs

ConditionShort Description
Acanthosis nigrans [ref]Skin Disease (Canine Seborrhea) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Mainly in Dachshunds. Hair loss begins in armpit folds and on ears. Black, thick, greasy, rancid-smelling skin.
Colour mutant alopecia (blue Doberman syndrome) [ref]Colour Dilution Alopecia (WikiVet)[/ref]Loss of hair over the body, giving a moth-eaten look. Papules and pustules may appear in areas of hair loss. Also affects other breeds.
Demodectic mange [ref]Pyotraumatic dermatitis (Wikipedia)[/ref]Localised - Occurs in puppies. Hair loss around eyelids, lips, and corners of mouth, occasionally on the legs or trunk, giving a moth-eaten look. Fewer than five patches, up to 25 mm in diameter.

Generalised - Numerous patches that enlarge and coalesce. Severe skin problem complicated by pyoderma. Primarily affects young adults. Generalised form is associated with immune deficiencies.
Nasal solar dermatitis (Collie nose) [ref]
Diseases of the Skin on the Nose in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]
Loss of hair at junction of nose and muzzle. Can lead to severe ulceration. Affects dogs with lightly pigmented noses. May be part of an autoimmune problem.
Pressure sore (Callus)Grey, hairless, thickened pad of wrinkled skin, usually over elbows but may involve other pressure points. Caused by lying on hard surfaces. Mostly seen in large and giant breeds.
Ringworm [ref]Ringworm in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]A fungal infection. Scaly, crusty circular patches 12 to 50 mm across. Patches show central hair loss with a red ring at the periphery. Some cases show widespread involvement.
Sebaceous adenitis [ref]Inflammatory Skin Disease in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Seen mainly in Standard Poodles, but does occur in other breeds, including Akitas. Symmetrical loss of hair over face, head, neck, and back. Dandruff like scales and hair follicle infection can develop.
Seborrhea [ref]Skin Disease (Canine Seborrhea) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Dry type - Similar to heavy dandruff.

Greasy type - Yellow-brown greasy scales that adhere to hair shafts; rancid odour. May occur secondary to other skin problems.
Vitiligo [ref]Vitiligo in Dogs and Cats: Everything You Need to Know (PetMD)[/ref]Some hair loss, but mostly pigment loss that causes hair to change colour. Mostly seen on the face and head. Seen most often in Rottweilers and Belgian Tervuren.
Zinc-responsive dermatosis [ref]Zinc Deficiency (WikiVet)[/ref]Crusty, scaly skin with hair loss over the face, nose, elbows, and hocks. Cracked feet. Caused by zinc deficiency. Arctic or Northern breeds are most susceptible.

Table 4: Skin Diseases with Pus Drainage

ConditionShort Description
Actinomycosis and nocardiosis [ref]Actinomycetes Overview (WikiVet)[/ref]Uncommon skin infections with abscesses and draining sinus tracts that discharge pus and respond slowly to treatment.
Acute moist dermatitis (hot spots) [ref]Pyotraumatic dermatitis (acute moist dermatitis, hot spot) (VetPractice)[/ref]Rapidly advancing patches of inflamed skin from which the hair falls out. The skin is covered with a wet exudate of pus. Progresses through self-chewing and results in pyoderma. Often occurs under ear flaps of dogs with drop ears, such as Newfoundland’s and Golden Retrievers. May be associated with an underlying skin disease, but can also occur in hot, humid weather if dogs swim or are bathed and don’t dry thoroughly.
Cellulitis or abscess [ref]Cellulitis in Dogs (VetInfo)[/ref]Painful, warm, reddened skin or pockets of pus beneath the skin. Look for a cause, such as a foreign body, bite wound, or self-trauma from irritated skin disease.
Folliculitis (hair pore infection) [ref]Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Hair shaft protrudes through the centre of a pustule.

Superficial - Similar to impetigo, but extends to involve armpit folds and chest.

Deep - Pustules become larger and firmer. Pus, crusts, and draining tracts in the skin.
Impetigo [ref]Canine impetigo in puppies (VetPractice)[/ref]Pustules and thin brown crust on hairless skin of abdomen and groin. Occurs in young puppies. May also be called puppy acne.
Interdigital cysts [ref] Interdigital Cysts in Dogs (VetPartner)[/ref]A swelling between the toes that may open and drain pus.
Mycetoma [ref]Mycetomas (MSD ManualMSD ManualMSD Manual)[/ref]Painful swelling at the site of a puncture wound, usually on the legs or feet. Pus drains through sinus tracts deep in the mass. Usually caused by a fungus, but can be bacterial.
Puppy acnePurplish red bumps on the chin and lower lip. Not painful. Also called impetigo.
Puppy strangles (juvenile pyoderma) [ref]Skin Ulcers in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Painful swelling of the face (lips, eyelids, ears), followed by rapid appearance of pustules and draining sores. Swollen lymph nodes around the head and neck. Occurs in puppies under 4 months of age.
Skin fold pyoderma (skin wrinkle infection) [ref]Overview of Pyoderma (MSD Manual)[/ref]Red, inflamed skin with a foul odour in a lip fold, nose fold, vulvar fold, or tail fold.

Table 5: Autoimmune and Immune Mediated Skin Diseases in Dogs

ConditionShort Description
Bullous pemphigoid [ref]Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers (Chronic) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Similar to pemphigus vulgaris, but usually begins at the junction of the skin and the mucous membranes. The mouth is commonly involved.
Discoid lupus erythematosusAffects the flat surface of the nose. Ulceration and depigmentation are characteristic.
Erythema multiforme [ref]Skin Reactions to Drugs in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Acute eruption of the skin and mucous membranes. Often caused by drugs. Characteristic target like eruptions with red rims and blanching at the centre.
Pemphigus erythematosusSimilar to pemphigus foliaceus, but restricted to the face, head, and foot pads.
Pemphigus foliaceus [ref]Skin Disease, Autoimmune (Pemphigus) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Red skin patches (macules) that progress rapidly to pustules and then to dry yellow crusts. Usually limited to the face (nose, muzzle, around the eyes and ears). Crusts adhere to underlying skin and hair. Often becomes generalized. Depigmentation seen in late stages. The feet can become thickened and cracked. Occasionally only the foot pads are involved.
Pemphigus vegetansFlat-topped pustules involving skin folds. Heals with wart like growths.
Pemphigus vulgarisVesicles and bullae that ulcerate and form thick crusts. Usually found around the lips and in the mouth, but may be generalized. Ulceration of foot pads and shedding of nails are common.
Nodular panniculitis [ref]Fatty Layer or Nodule Under the Skin in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Multiple lumps (like marbles beneath the skin) over the back and along the sides. Lumps open and drain, then heal by scarring.
Systemic lupus erythematosus [ref]Systemic Autoimmune Disease in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Skin involvement similar to pemphigus foliaceus. First sign may be wandering lameness. Ulceration of foot pads is common.
Toxic epidermal necrolysis [ref]Skin Reactions to Drugs in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Severe, painful skin disease. Blebs and ulcers involve the skin, mucous membranes, and foot pads. Large sections of skin are shed as in a burn injury.

Table 6: Lumps and Bumos on OR Beneath the Skin in Dogs

ConditionShort Description
AbscessA painful collection of pus at the site of a bite or puncture wound.
Basal cell tumour [ref]Skin Cancer (Basal Cell Tumor) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Solitary nodule, usually on a narrow base or stalk. Round, normally hairless, and may be ulcerated. Found on the head, neck, and shoulders of older dogs.
Ceruminous gland adenoma [ref]Ceruminous Gland Tumors (MSD ManualMSD ManualMSD Manual)[/ref]A pinkish-white dome-shaped growth in the ear canal less than 1 centimetre in size. May become ulcerated and infected.
Epidermal inclusion cystA firm lump beneath the skin. May discharge cheesy material and become infected.
Hematoma [ref]Hematoma on Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]A collection of clotted blood beneath the skin; often involves the ear flaps.
Histiocytoma [ref]Skin Tumor (Histiocytoma) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Rapidly growing dome-shaped (button like) growth found anywhere on the body, usually in young adults.
Lipoma [ref]Fatty Skin Tumors in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Smooth round or oblong growth beneath the skin; feels somewhat soft.
Mast cell tumour [ref]Mast Cell Tumor (Mastocytoma) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Solitary or multiple growths usually found on the trunk, perineum, and legs. More prevalent in certain breeds, including Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers.
Melanoma [ref]Melanoma Tumors in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]A brown or black pigmented nodule found in areas of dark skin. Growths in mouth and nailbeds usually are malignant.
Perianal Fistula (AF) [ref]Chronic Inflammation of the Anus, Rectum or Perineum Region in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Characterized by a chronic, painful and progressive inflammatory disease of the perianal, anal and perirectal tissue. Recent studies showing clinical resolution with diet changes emphasizes the important role dietary allergens play in the etiology of this disease. This disease mainly affects large breed dogs such as the German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Old English Sheepdog and Border Collie. In German Shepherds, an association between perianal fistulas and colitis exists, further emphasizing the role of inflammatory mediators in this disease.
Perianal gland tumour [ref]Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]A solitary or multinodular growth in the perineum around the anus. Occurs most often in older intact males.
Sebaceous adenoma [ref]Lumps, Bumps, Cysts & Growths on Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Also called sebaceous cyst. Smooth, pink, wart like growth less than 2.5 cm in diameter. Most common on the eyelids and limbs. Occurs in older individuals (average age 10). Very common in Poodles and Cocker Spaniels.
Skin papillomas [ref]All About Dog Warts: Types, Causes, and Treatments (PetMD)[/ref]These grow out from the skin and may look like a wart. Not painful or dangerous
Soft-tissue sarcomas [ref]8 Types of Dog Tumors and How to Treat Them (PetMD)[/ref]Ill-defined or well-demarcated masses of varying size and location. Often slow growing.
Squamous cell carcinoma [ref]Skin Cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]A non-healing grey or reddish-looking ulcer found on the belly, scrotum, feet, legs, lips, or nose. May resemble a cauliflower like growth.
Transmissible venereal tumours [ref]Sexually Transmitted Tumors in Dogs (PetMD)[/ref]Ulcerated, often multiple cauliflower-like growths on the genitalia of both sexes.

Principal Natural Solutions

  • Orthomolecular therapy, topical decontamination with frequent hypo-allergenic shampooing and conditioning, omega-3 fatty acids, natural diet

Supporting Natural Solutions

  • Natural diet, digestive enzymes, antioxidants, MSM, proanthocyanidins, herbal therapies including the topically applied herbs aloe, witch hazel, liquorice, Oregon grape, peppermint, chamomile, calendula, juniper, lavender, rose bark, uva ursi; and the oral herbs alfalfa, aloe Vera, burdock root, dandelion, Echinacea, feverfew, garlic, German chamomile, Ginkgo biloba, goldenseal, liquorice root, nettle, red clover, Oregon grape, yarrow and yellow dock

Herbal Blends, Oils & Supplements

Start by switching your fur kid to natural raw cuisine for a minimum period of 8 to 12 weeks (3 months or 90 days). This is due to the skin taking at least 90 days to recover and / or regenerate. If the condition is atopic dermatitis, we also recommend supplementing with a Omega 3 and 6 oil supplement in the diet at the same time.

For supplemental herbal approach, you should consider the our Skin Itch Relief Support Blend. The Skin Itch Relief Blend is used to relieve all types of allergic dermatitis, using 100% natural herbal blend that you mix in with the food. The Skin Itch Relief Blend contains Chamomile flowers, Burdock root, Nettle and Garlic. For long term results, it combines particularly well with our Liver and Blood Tonic Support Blend. You can substitute the Omega requirements using sardines and use the herbs as your primary therapy.

For those pet parents that do not subscribe to the use of Canola Oil, we also offer the Rooibos Aromatics Rooibos & Chamomile Infused Oil as an alternative oil. Again, you can supplement with fresh frozen sardines and our Skin Itch Relief Blend.

These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.

Other Supplements

Although supplements can be a confusing topic for many pet parents, most dog owners have heard of the benefits of feeding fish oils and / or fresh fish. There are however, a variety of plant and vegetable oils that you can also use to your dog’s benefit, each with different actions and benefits. Once such is Coconut Oil.

The benefits of coconut oil come from the type of fats it is made of. Coconut oil is almost exclusively (more than 90%) saturated fat and is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood”. I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t fat bad for you?”. In this case no. There are two groups of fats: saturated fats and unsaturated and within each group are several more types of fats. It can get a little confusing, for solid information all about fats, WEBMD has some good information. Some of the benefits are:

  • Assist to clear up eczema;
  • Aids flea allergies, contact dermatitis and itchy skin;
  • Minimizes doggy odour if you are not feeding on raw;
  • Reduces allergic reactions;
  • Creates sleek and glossy coats;
  • Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections;
  • When applied topically coconut oil promotes wound healing;
  • Also can help with hot spots, dry skin and hair, bites and stings.

You can use coconut oil daily in your fur kids diet and your own.

Additional Articles and Videos

Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:

  • Dr. Jean Dodd, Coconut Oil: The good saturated fat (Dr Dodds);
  • Diet and Skin Disease in Dogs and Cats by Tim Watson from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK (Nutrition.Org);
  • Understanding Canine Allergies (Whole Dog Journal);
  • Dr. Becker, Allergies In Pets (Dr Becker);
  • Dr. Becker, Allergic Dermatitis: The #1 Sign Your Pet Has Allergies – And What to Do About It (Mercola)
  • Dog Skin Allergies & How To Deal with Them (Organic Pet);
  • Dr. Becker, Help Your Dog Overcome These 3 Common Allergies… (Mercola);
  • Itchy Skin Wins Big, A Mystery to Vets (Dogs Naturally Magazine);
  • Dr. Becker, Is Your Dog Chronically Itchy or Smelly? Could Be This…(Mercola);
  • Dr. Becker, Could This Natural Remedy Relieve Your Dog’s Itching and Scratching? (Mercola);
  • Dr. Jean Dodd, Food Sensitivity vs. Food Allergy: Is it not really just the same thing?, (Dr Dodds);
  • Canine Atopic Dermatitis: New Targets, New Therapies, by Douglas J. DeBoer from the Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706 (Nutrition.Org);
  • Clark, W.R., Hypersensitivity and Allergy, in At War Within: The double edged sword of immunity, 1995, New York, Oxford University Press (Amazon);

Dr Karen Becker provides An Overview of Pet Allergies

Raw Diets and Allergic Reactions & Food Intolerances

Raw Diets and Skin Conditions by Dr Vicky Payne

Dr. Karen Becker: How to Treat Allergies in Your Pet

Dr. Karen Becker on how to Treat Your Pet’s Environmental Allergies

Dr. Karen Becker talks about Yeast Infection in Dogs

References and Research

  1. 1.
    Holm J, Baerentzen G, Gajhede M, et al. Molecular basis of allergic cross-reactivity between group 1 major allergens from birch and apple. J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 2001;756(1-2):307-313. doi:10.1016/s0378-4347(01)00089-5
  2. 2.
    Fritsch R, Bohle B, Vollmann U, et al. Bet v 1, the major birch pollen allergen, and Mal d 1, the major apple allergen, cross-react at the level of allergen-specific T helper cells. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1998;102(4 Pt 1):679-686. doi:10.1016/s0091-6749(98)70287-8

Raw Food for Pets