Recommendations For Skin Allergy Therapy

3 Main Issues

Please note that when we address skin allergies in animals we focus on 3 main issues:

  • flea allergies
  • food allergies
  • environmental allergens

Many of our allergic animals are allergic to several different things and therefore we use several different modes to treat the allergies.

Secondary Infections

Despite the cause of the allergy it is common for the animal to get secondary skin and/or ear infections. If we cannot get the underlying cause of the allergy under control we often cannot get the infections under control.


If an animal is allergic to fleas it only takes one or two fleas to produce an allergic response. It is very common for owners not to observe fleas on their cats since cats are such fastidious groomers and often pick the flea off before the owner can see the flea. Please refer to our “Flea Control Recommendations” sheet for guidelines.


Often when an animal exhibits signs of skin allergies it is secondary to an allergy to something in their food, usually a protein. Therefore it is common for our veterinarians to recommend hypoallergenic diets. If this recommendation is made it is important to remember that this diet is the only thing that should go into the pet’s mouth for at least 8 weeks.

If you combine the recommended food with any other foods it defeats the purpose of these elimination diets. Some of our commonly used hypoallergenic foods are listed below:

  • Hills Prescription Diet Dermatology Diet (D/D)
  • Hills Prescription Diet Z/D
  • Hills Prescription Diet Z/D ultra
  • Hills Science Diet Hypoallergenic treats

Most of these foods are available in the dry and canned version. Many clients prefer to get both so that they can hide medication in the canned (remember absolutely no other food including treats to hide pills in!)

There are many over the counter diets labeled as being hypoallergenic but they are not the same as a prescription quality hypoallergenic diet.

Environmental Allergens

Environmental allergens are a little more difficult to treat because we usually cannot eliminate factors in the environment as easily as we can treat for fleas or change the food. We typically start off conservatively and treat symptomatically with antihistamines, medicated shampoos, and fatty acid supplements.

For some dogs these treatments work very well and for others we have to be more aggressive with treatments. Your veterinarian may start off by recommending:

  • 3V caps (fatty acid supplement)
  • Benadryl
  • Chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton)
  • Clemastine (Tavist)
  • Relief shampoo
  • Malasseb shampoo
  • Douxo Calm system
  • Douxo Chlorhexidine system
  • Douxo Calming Gel Spray

Additional Recommendations

Please note that with environmental allergies sometimes the above recommendations are not enough for every animal and we sometimes have to make additional recommendations. Many animals with allergies do great on steroids but due to the harmful long term effects of steroids we try to avoid them as much as possible. In some circumstances we recommend allergy testing and/or a medication called Atopica. Your veterinarian will discuss these more aggressive options with you if they are necessary.

Contact Us

We realize that allergies are a very frustrating problem for you and your pet. It is a very common problem and the best way for your veterinarian to determine the best combination of treatments to help your pet is to follow the above recommendations. Please contact us with any questions!

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