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Learn : Dog Allergies

Poodles with Skin Allergies


Poodles are extremely intelligent, fun, and active dogs, which is why they are among one of the most popular breeds.1 Coming in 3 sizes - standard (>15in, 45-70lbs), miniature (10-15in, 12-20lbs), and toy (<10in, 5-7lbs), the poodle can fit perfectly into just about any home!2 Often used in show, their eager personality paired with their intellect, allows them to dominate in the ring. Originating from Germany, as hunting dogs; however, their popularity among French aristocats quickly transformed their image into one of elegance and prestige.2 Today poodles find themselves in many roles from athletes, police dogs, guide and therapy dogs, to performers,2 and of course as loving companions.

Type of Coat

The coat of a poodle is probably their most notable feature. Often preferred by pet owners due to its lack of shedding, making it low-allergen.2 Their coat is long and curly, and comes in a wide variety of colors, including white, black, brown, and apricot.1 While they may not shed to the same extent as other breeds, their lushous coat requires extensive upkeep, daily brushing is a must. If grown too long, the coat can start to mat which can be uncomfortable and painful for the poodle.1 Generally tight and curly, however, the coat can be brushed out to give a more poofy appearance, or corded together into bands similar to dreadlocks.2 Owners choose to style their poodle’s coat is a wide variety of ways, popular is the choice to keep the coat relatively short leaving “pom poms” on the tail and head.2

Susceptibility to Skin Allergies

Poodles, even those with the most well kept and clean coat, are susceptible to a variety of skin disorders, including skin allergies. Additionally, they’re one of the breeds more likely to suffer from a rare inflammatory skin disease, sebaceous adenitis, which can leave their skin itchy, dry, scaly, and cause hair loss.2 Skin allergies in poodles are common and frequently caused by seasonal and contact allergens, such as ragweed, but may also result from food, flea, inhalant, or even bacterial or viral allergens.  Common signs of skin allergies in poodles include excessive itching, development of red sores, chewing and biting of feet, eye and nasal congestion, and a dull coat.

Allergy Locations

Contact allergens are very common in poodles, and can be especially irritating for them. Depending on the poodle’s grooming, the location of skin allergies can be more obvious with certain clips. Further, a cut that leaves the poodle’s coat short in certain areas offers less protection and can expose them to more contact allergens. While irritation can occur anywhere on their body, it is common to see your poodle biting excessively at their paws. However, they’re known to cause sores and hair loss at other allergy sites, which can give rise to an infection. 

Causes of Skin Allergies 

Poodles can be sensitive to a variety of allergens that lead to dry, itchy, and irritated skin. Commonly, contact allergens such as carpet cleaners, detergents, and grooming products can cause reactions. So it is imperative to use hypoallergenic products whenever possible. Additionally, just as many people are, poodles are susceptible to common seasonal allergens such as ragweed and grass pollen. So while poodles are high energy, and require frequent exercise,1 they should be readily wiped down, especially on their paws, after outdoor adventures. Fleas are also a common cause of skin allergies in poodles, and many pet owners underestimate how sensitive their poodle may be to fleas. Just one bite can cause a severe reaction, and fleas can jump up to 6 feet, so it's possible to contract them at places like the vet’s office when other dogs are nearby. As a result, flea medications and shampoos are a necessary defense mechanism. Finally, food may be the culprit behind your poodle’s skin allergies. A true food allergy is rare, and is more frequently an intolerance that can manifest as skin irritation. Nonetheless, common food irritants include chemical additives and preservatives, food proteins, and dairy.

Treatment Options

For seasonal and contact allergens, the best thing you can do for your poodle is to keep a clean house, keep them clean, and use products designed for sensitive skin. When skin is irritated it is best to limit grooming and baths to not further aggravate or dry out the skin.  Certain common allergens can be discovered via skin or blood tests performed by your veterinarian. If the specific allergen is found, then taking extra care to avoid it or minimize exposure will do your poodle wonders. And, of course, keep their flea and tick prevention treatments current is an absolute must. Finally, a visit to the vet is also important to help rule out other common skin diseases that affect poodles including, demodectic mange, sebaceous adenitis, and Cushing’s disease.

If an infection has occurred, antibiotics may be necessary, further, vitamin E rubbed directly onto the skin may offer additional relief once sores are free from infection. Steroid shots or medication may be prescribed by your veterinarian if itching and swelling is extreme. Additionally, antihistamines can also help reduce itching, and may be used alongside steroids.5,3 Finally, cyclosporine is another common remedy for itch relief, and can even be provided as a spray for more widespread rapid relief.3 Longer term, if an allergen has been identified, many vets choose to perform hyposensitization therapy, which provides a series of injections containing the allergen, decreasing the dog’s sensitivity to it over time.3 Due to the length of time to see results from this treatment method, it is not recommended to senior poodles. 

When food is the suspected source of your poodles skin irritation, a couple things can be done. Right away, it is a good idea to switch them to a bland, but nutritionally adequate diet, to help their stomach relax. If your poodle’s diet is not complete, malnutrition could also be the source of their skin irritation and hair loss.4 To help pinpoint the exact food allergen, an elimination diet of at least 8 weeks is recommended.5 Intuitively, if an allergen is discovered, eliminate it, but work alongside your vet to ensure the diet maintains nutritional adequacy. Finally, a more fresh and natural diet may benefit your poodle, as food additives and colorants can often cause skin reactions in poodles. 

Key Ingredients to Fight Allergies

As mentioned a diet lacking key nutrients could be behind your poodle’s skin irritation. Furthermore, certain ingredients can benefit your poodle’s skin and coat beyond what is nutritionally required. Frequently, vets may recommend fish oil as it is rich in fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are known to benefit skin and coat health in dogs.4 Additionally protein and several amino acids, such as phenylalanine and methionine, benefit hair growth, collagen synthesis, and skin strength.4 Vitamins and minerals known to favorably impact skin health include copper, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, B3, and B5.4  Finally, newer research looking at the gut microbiome and allergies, is discovering a role for probiotics and benefiting canine skin allergies. 

Further, the table below suggests alternate dietary modifications for certain skin conditions:


Coat Color Changes

Dietary Needs and Adjustments

Increase amino acids which can be found in  protein (>75 grams per 1000 calories); use our calculator to convert a label percentage to the caloric basis (grams per 1000 calories)

Concurrent GI Signs

Avoid foods with tryptamine and histamine such as dairy or fermented vegetables and meats (yes, this includes bacon); try a simple ingredient food trial

Chronic Itching and Dermatitis

Fortify the diet with Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Zinc, and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil; add a probiotic; try a simple ingredient food trial

Dull Coat and Scaling

Adjust EPA and DHA levels in the diet (added fish oil being the most common way); try a food that has added zinc

Dandruff and Crustiness

Add Zinc and Vitamin A levels

How Fresh Food Can Help 

Unfortunately, pet food isn’t the most well regulated. This can allow for contaminants and unlabeled ingredients and additives, which can cause skin reactions in your poodle. A fresh food diet, produced in small batches with high quality standards, may help your poodle’s skin allergies by offering purity and ingredient transparency. Furthermore, dogs have been shown to be more excited by fresh food diet, which improves their overall quality of life. With a fresh food diet, it becomes easier for pet owners to confidently monitor what their poodle is consuming, making adjustments when necessary. Finally, a well balanced fresh food diet can also offer ease of digestion, allowing more efficient use of nutrients.  

About Nom Nom

Homemade meals is one way to provide your poodle with fresh food, however, this can be time consuming and pet owners must further be able to guarantee nutritional adequacy. Alternatively, companies like Nom Nom, which focus on purity and small batch meal production, can take this responsibility out of the hands of poodle owners, delivering properly portioned meals right to your door! Nom Nom personalizes meals to meet your poodles age, current weight, and weight aspirations. Additionally, they offer a variety of protein options all of which include the Nutrient Mix which guarantees all nutrient requirements are met even with natural variations among recipes. The variety of available recipes further allows pet owners to change up their poodle’s diet and protein source, which has been shown to benefit skin sensitivities. Nom Nom uses high quality ingredients and has high production standards, guaranteeing nutritionally balanced and well prepared meals for your poodle!

  1. Greenberg, A. Poodle (Standard). American Kennel Club (2017).
  2. Inflammatory Skin Disease in Dogs.
  3. Atopic Dermatitis Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments | petMD.
  4. Diets and the Dermis: Nutritional Considerations in Dermatology | Today’s Veterinary Practice. Today’s Veterinary Practice (2017).
  5. Olivry, T., Mueller, R. S. & Prélaud, P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (1): duration of elimination diets. BMC Vet. Res. 11, 225 (2015).

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