Contact Dermatitis In Dogs


Contact Dermatitis is a rare skin disease in dogs. This happens when a dog makes accidental physical contact with a chemical or any other irritants that negatively react with the dog’s immune system. There are two types of contact dermatitis, the first one is allergic and the second one is the irritant. They are technically two different cases, the symptoms and treatments are very similar to one another.


In both the types the dog must have been in direct contact with the irritants and thus has gotten a reaction. Allergic dermatitis occurs when the pet becomes extremely hypersensitive to an irritant in the environment. In a majority of the cases, the dog repeatedly gets in contact with the irritant making it hypersensitive to it. The skin becomes eventually hypersensitive. Research says skin sensitization can take at least six months to develop.

Some very common causes of allergic reactions are as follows:

  1. Topical antibiotics
  2. Flea Collars
  3. Metals such as Nickels
  4. Pollens and grasses
  5. Shampoos and soaps
  6. Insecticides
  7. Carpet deodorizers
  8. Materials such as rubber, plastic, dyes, leather, wool, etc.

Irritant dermatitis doesn't have a proper period of sensitization. The dog will dispose of a reaction against an irritant the first time it comes across it.

Some very common causes are as follows:

  1. Road salt
  2. Poison Ivy Soap
  3. Soaps and detergents
  4. Acids and alkalines
  5. Petroleum by-products such as perfumes, fertilizers, and petroleum jellies

Signs & Symptoms

This condition generally happens in places not protected by the hair. It includes nose, feet, lips, chin, knees, back in the digestion, and underline of the belly. The main symptoms of both the types of contact dermatitis (Allergic and Irritant) are mainly skin rashes and are characterized by red inflammation and lumps. A dog can also have blister-like lesions, or crusts, and hair loss. The dog will most probably bite, scratch, or lick the affected area due to irritation. In some cases, the owner may also find ulcers.

Diagnosis & Tests

If the owner suspects that the pet might be suffering from contact dermatitis, he should make a call to the vet. The vet will ask for the medical history of the dog along with the current symptoms of the disease. The most challenging part is to isolate the irritants. Isolation is achieved through a patch test. In a patch test, the vet places the allergen on the skin of the dog in a bandaged form. Then the vet monitors the area for several weeks.


There is no medical cure for this disease. The most accurate way to prevent the condition will be to prevent the dog from getting in contact with the irritants. This means that the owner has to remove his favorite plant from the garden area, or has to keep certain chemical products away from the dog.

The vet may also prescribe certain oral or topical corticosteroids and antihistamines for relaxing few inflammations. Certain medicated soaps and shampoos can reduce itching. The vet may also suggest some topical antibiotics to relieve skin tensions. In some cases, he may ask the owner to switch over to hypoallergenic shampoos.

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