labrador retriever skin allergies
Category_Dog Knowledge

Labrador Retriever Allergies and Skin Allergy Causes

by Andrew Ehlert

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the United States. They have held this ranking since 1991 from the American Kennel Club. However, being a “top dog” does not discount such a breed from suffering from allergies. Labrador Retriever allergies manifest themselves in the skin, irritating your canine companion.

Labrador Retrievers possess a double coat. Their sleek, short, thick topcoat allows for protection from the elements when helping fishermen haul nets and retrieve fish in their original country of Newfoundland.

Their soft undercoat is weather-resistant, allowing for comfort after a long day of being in the water. This short coat is a benefit to locating and identifying skin abnormalities caused by allergies.

It is important to check for irregularities in your dogs’ skin and coat every time you brush them. This allows for detecting skin issues as fast as possible.

Types of Allergies That Commonly Impact Labrador Retrievers

There are various allergies affecting labrador retrievers that cause skin irritation. The 3 most common skin allergies in dogs are

  • Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)
  • Atopic dermatitis (Atopy)
  • Food allergy dermatitis

These three common skin allergies in Labrador Retrievers all have different causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. It is important to be familiar with each allergy so that you can identify if your dog is suffering from a hypersensitive reaction to an allergen.

Causes of Allergies

All three of these allergies have different causes, as detailed below.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

FAD is the most common labrador retriever allergy. It is caused by an allergic or hypersensitive reaction to the saliva of a flea. Fleas make their home in the Labrador Retriever’s soft undercoat, feeding on its blood and causing irritation. This can occur even when just 1-2 fleas are on the dog's body.

Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)

Atopy is the second most common labrador retriever allergy occurring in the skin. It is caused by environmental factors in which the dog undergoes a general allergic or hypersensitive reaction to an allergen such as dust mites, mold spores, plants, and pollen. These microscopic allergens can penetrate directly through the skin of dogs that have a genetic skin barrier defect.

Food Allergy Dermatitis

Food allergy dermatitis is much less common than Atopy or FAD but still has adverse effects on your Labrador Retriever’s health. It typically occurs in dogs one year of age or older. Labrador Retrievers are prone to developing food allergies. These food allergies manifest themselves through the inflammatory reaction of the body. Animal protein is typically the culprit to food allergies in dogs.

Potential Allergy Symptoms For Labs

You can identify which Labrador Retriever allergy you are dealing with by what symptoms you are seeing your dog experience.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Symptoms of FAD include the following:

  • Intense itching
  • Rash on the skin, or bleeding, raw, irritated areas on the body
  • Hair loss where bites occurred
  • Small, red, raised bumps
  • Constant biting, clawing, or grooming

Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)

Symptoms of Atopy include the following:

  • Excessive itching of the ears, paws, mouth, and eyes
  • Hot, inflamed skin (lesions)
  • Recurring ear infections
  • Chewing on areas such as armpits, groin, and paws

Food Allergy Dermatitis

Symptoms of Food allergy dermatitis include the following:

  • Itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Facial swelling

Treating Your Labs Allergies

Each Labrador Retriever allergy requires different treatments. However, talk to your veterinarian care provider before beginning treatment. Your veterinarian can confirm the allergy and ensure your Labrador Retriever gets the best care. Below are other options that can be done to help treat the symptoms irritating your Labrador Retriever.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

FAD is treated in multiple ways. Some common treatments include topical antibiotic creams, shampoos, and steroids, oral antihistamines, antibiotics, and steroids. Be careful not to strip the dogs’ natural skin oils by using a sulfate-free shampoo that is gentle on the skin.

Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)

While there are multiple different ways to relieve the symptoms of Atopy in your dog, there is no cure.

One of the best things you can do is remove the allergens from the skin and repair the skin barrier. This involves regular bathing with medicated shampoo to help relieve discomfort. Reduce irritation by moisturizing the skin with rich conditioners that include ceramides. Nutritional supplements and immunotherapy have also been found to be effective treatment options.

Food Allergy Dermatitis

The most straightforward way to treat food allergy dermatitis is to put your Labrador Retriever on a strict food elimination trial for three months.

Food elimination is done by feeding your dog a sole protein diet using only a couple of different kinds of food. If symptoms improve, start adding more ingredients to your dogs’ diet, paying attention to any food allergy dermatitis symptoms that may start to occur.

Once symptoms start to reoccur, track which ingredients you added to their diet. This will tell you what exactly it is that your dog is allergic to. Once you have this information, simply remove these problematic foods from your dogs' diet and let them enjoy everything else.

Preventing Allergies For Labrador Retrievers

While there are options to treat Labrador Retriever allergies, the best treatment is prevention. Preventing these allergies will your Labrador Retriever their best healthy life.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Topical and oral flea management medications are available to prevent FAD. One example of a topical solution is Frontline Plus which controls the flea population on your dog.

Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)

Atopy is a difficult Labrador Retriever allergy to prevent. So many environmental factors contribute to the symptoms of atopy dermatitis, it is almost impossible to keep track of. The best prevention tactic is checking if your dog has a genetically inherited skin barrier defect. If this is the case, talk with your veterinarian care provider about the best way to fix this defect.

Food Allergy Dermatitis

Nutrition is so important in your dogs’ health in so many aspects, not just for skin allergy. While the healthier brands of dog food are more expensive, they may save you money in the long run by preventing multiple health issues later in life. Top-quality brands and homemade dog food is the best option to prevent food allergy dermatitis in your dog.

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