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What is Shampoo Allergies ?

Contact allergies are caused by the aggressive response of specialized immune cells to an allergen. When an allergen activates the immune system, it manufactures a protein that causes the immune cells to release histamine, a naturally occurring compound that has an inflammatory effect on the tissues it comes into contact with. Shampoos for dogs can contain a number of ingredients that can cause skin irritation and even allergic reactions. These reactions usually occur rather rapidly after exposure and often become more intense with repeated applications.

Shampoo allergies are an overactive reaction of the cell of the immune system to a protein within the shampoo that the canine body sees as an intruder.

Shampoo Allergies Average Cost

From 493 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Shampoo Allergies in Dogs

  • Bald patches
  • Blister-like lesions
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Chronically inflamed feet
  • Face rubbing
  • Head shaking
  • Hives
  • Obsessive licking
  • Paw biting
  • Skin infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Swelling, particularly around the face
  • Ulcerations on skin

Contact allergies can sometimes progress to anaphylactic shock. If the following symptoms occur, take your pet to the nearest veterinary office or animal emergency clinic

Types

There are several varieties of shampoo available that can help relieve symptoms related to allergies:

  • Glycoprotein shampoos - Shampoos with glycoproteins help to soothe pain and inflammation caused by allergic reactions

  • Hypoallergenic shampoos - Hypoallergenic shampoos are designed to be easy on the skin, and are generally free of the harsher chemicals; hey are often designed to be easier to rinse off and can contain products to ease itching, such as oatmeal and aloe vera 
  • Medicated shampoos - Shampoos that include antihistamines and corticosteroids are helpful in reducing swelling and itching; these types of shampoos should be used with caution as they may cause problems if ingested

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Causes of Shampoo Allergies in Dogs

There are several chemicals and other compounds in dog grooming products that can cause contact dermatitis, through either irritation or allergic reaction.

Common irritants

  • 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (a preservative)
  • Benzyl alcohol (preservative)
  • Cetearyl alcohol (conditioning ingredient)
  • Coal tar (anti-dandruff ingredient)
  • Cocamide DEA (foam booster and foam stabilizer)
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine (foam booster, mild cleanser)
  • Colorants
  • DMDM hydantoin (preservative)
  • Imidazolidinyl urea (preservative)
  • Lanolin and lanolin derivatives (emollient)
  • Propylene glycol (humectant)
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate/SLS (degreaser)
  • Sorbitan palmitate (emulsifier)
  • Stearyl alcohol (conditioner ingredient)
  • Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Common allergens

 

  • 1-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (preservative)
  • Botanicals
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Cocamide DEA (foam booster and foam stabilizer)
  • Cocamide MEA (foam booster & stabilizer)
  • Cocamide MIPA (emulsifier)
  • Coconut oil (emollient)
  • Essential oils
  • Fragrance
  • Glyceryl stearate (emulsifier)
  • Isopropanolamine (preservative)
  • Lanolin
  • Limonene
  • Methylchloroisothiasolinone & methylisothiasolinone (preservatives)
  • Petrolatum 
  • Propylene glycol (emollient)
  • Stearyl alcohol
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Diagnosis of Shampoo Allergies in Dogs

The general physical should reveal allergy symptoms that will most likely prompt your veterinarian to collect a skin scraping. The skin samples obtained will then be examined by cutaneous cytology, a microscopic evaluation of the skin cells completed in order to search for problems like mites or yeast infections. Allergies to the compounds found in shampoos can manifest anywhere on the body, although true allergic reactions are often centered around the face and groin areas, as well as under the front legs and between the toes. 

The timing of the response combined with the dog’s symptoms may help make a preliminary diagnosis, at which time your veterinarian may recommend a patch test, also known as an intradermal skin test. Miniscule amounts of the suspected antigens are injected under the skin so that a localized reaction can be induced. The antigens introduced in this situation are likely to be ingredients within the shampoo or other grooming products that your dog appears to be reacting to. Many doctors choose to try to diagnose which allergen is causing the reaction by eliminating suspected allergens from the environment first, in this case, changing to an entirely different shampoo.

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Treatment of Shampoo Allergies in Dogs

If you are able to determine the cause of the allergic reaction, you may be able to treat it without a visit to the veterinarian. Any skin that had contact with the shampoo should be completely rinsed in cool water as soon as possible to minimize exposure. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend an appropriate dosage of over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl to give your pet to ease the symptoms, or may choose to prescribe topical or oral antihistamines or corticosteroids. Caution should be employed during application of hydrocortisone creams, as ingestion could cause gastric distress. 

Medications such as corticosteroid injections or oral tablets are usually very efficient in reducing the signs and symptoms of allergy, but they are only recommended when other treatments have failed as they have some serious side effects. If your pet is showing signs of anaphylactic shock, treatment will need to begin before a definitive diagnosis is received. Epinephrine will be administered upon your arrival to the veterinarian’s office and supportive therapies such as IV fluids and oxygen are likely to be started at that time as well.

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Recovery of Shampoo Allergies in Dogs

Canine contact allergies can be just as unsightly and uncomfortable for our canine companions as they are for us and continuing treatment can be more than just cosmetic. Skin that has been damaged by allergic reactions is prone to developing bacterial infections, and either oral or topical antibiotics will be prescribed if this occurs. It is essential that your pet completes the full measure of their antibiotic medication even if the symptoms seem to have subsided. Stopping the medication before the infection is completely eradicated may cause the infection to reoccur. Quite often a simple switch in the choice of shampoos is enough to ease the allergic response.

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Shampoo Allergies Average Cost

From 493 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Shampoo Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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English Bulldog

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11.5 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Interdigital Cyst, Blisters On Bottom Jaw, Excessive Scratching And Fleas We Have Tried Everything To Get Rid Of

We have tried several over the counter shampoos and medications for fleas. As well as medications for the excessive scratching. Bought smush face for his face, wrinkles and tail pocket. But his symptoms aren't getting better.

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, Bulldog always have these issues. You may need prescription medication and wipes to help keep these areas clean. For fleas I recommend oral pills to kill the fleas as they work the best. This will be a life long battle that you will have to fight to keep the skin folds clean and clear of infection. Good Luck

July 26, 2020

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austrailian shepard mixed with german shepard mixed with lab and maybe pit bull

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10 weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Itching

i washed him with puppy and dog shampoo but didn’t read the back and it says for 12 week old dogs and i think it irritated his skin as he is itching a lot

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question It seems unlikely to me that the shampoo would be irritating his skin to that level, and I think there is probably more going on than that. Puppies can be affected by parasites or mites, or bacterial or fungal infections. If he is very itchy, it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they will be able to examine him, see his skin, and see what might be going on. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 23, 2020

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Great Dane

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Two

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Skin Blisters/ Allergic Reaction

Hi there. So I gave my dog a bath a few days ago and noticed hives all over his skin. I assumed he must have gotten into something but today I noticed the hives have started to burst and now look more like pyoderma

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello If your dog has hives, that typically means that he is having an allergic reaction. Pyoderma, or secondary bacterial infection, can occur and is usually responsive to antibiotics. I recommend that you take your pup to a veterinarian for an exam and treatment. Good luck.

July 21, 2020

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Chief

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Pit bull

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hives

We have tried so many sensitive puppy and adult dog soaps and Chief breakouts in hives every time what should we use? should we just use baby shampoo? what recommendations do you have for a pit bull with very sensitive skin?

July 8, 2018

Chief's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It really is a case of trial and error until you find a shampoo which he can tolerate (sometimes there are no shortcuts (try to track ingredients to see if you can narrow in on ones which may be causing a reaction, there are so many I couldn’t recommend just one and I don’t know what you’ve already tried; as for baby shampoo, read our article linked below on the subject. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/sense/can-dogs-use-baby-shampoo

July 8, 2018

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Pepa

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Mixed

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Red Bumps

I have just bought a shampoo that was suppose to help with deskunking my dog, I've washed him in it for a few weeks. I have major hair loss on his neck. Should I start shampooing him in oatmeal and aloe? Or should I ask the vet what to use.

June 23, 2018

Pepa's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

You should bathe Pepa with a mild sensitive hypoallergenic canine shampoo available from a local pet shop; bathe Pepa two or three times over the next week and look for any improvement. If there is no regrowth of hair or hair continues to fall out you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 24, 2018

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Sheba

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Husky

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Red Tummy Excessive Scratching

It sure how old she is. She was a stray found wondering on a country road. Washed Sheba with suave shampoo and she has been licking and chewing her legs and paws. The constant scratching is causing sores on her throat back of the head and under both front legs. Her tummy is red and looks irritated. She had a few fleas and was scratching but after the bath the scratching became more intense. Im thinking she may be allergic to the shampoo. Is there anything I can do.

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Akira

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Labrador Retriever

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hives

I've had a labrador dudley rescue for 9 weeks now. she was extremely emaciated (14,6kg) now weighing 28kg. she's had non-stop itching problems, been on antibiotics, cortisone, and busy with second food trial now (first was royal canin sensitivity, now Science hill Z/D). she mostly itches from midnight through to feeding time in the am. she's also on anti-depressants and anti-allergy tabs, Efazol and have been bathed in the beginning: every 3rd day with disinfectants and allercalm shampoo. now every second day with allercalm. after yesterday's bath (2 shampoos, second on skin for 7min before rinsing), very lukewarm almost cold water and hasn't stopped itching since. even after feeding. (which normally stopped the itching). can she be allergic to allercalm (virbac) shampoo please?

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Leo

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Miniature Australian Shepherd

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Red Bumps

I just had my mini australian shepherd groomed and he had a de-shedding treatment. His skin is raw on his hip area and back legs. It almost looked like broken blood vessels in a couple areas. I called the groomer and the owner said that was normal and that a de-shed was like when we pluck our eyebrows (yikes). She said to give it a few hours until the evening to calm down and if not, to see a vet and they would reimburse us. What can I do to help? Is this a normal reaction and should I ever do this treatment again? I'm concerned I did something to hurt by dog.

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Lovey

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Maltese x

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9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

I washed both my Maltese dogs with dog shampoo but used Human chair conditioner because I removed a lot of ticks after coming back from the farm. The next night I noticed the male one being feverish for 3 days now, he is still eating but not moving around much and no barking at all. Can you help me? I took him to a state vet but told me it’s tick fever. I’m sceptical because he is sneezing a lot, also has swollen face and the fever has suddenly subsided.shes constantly licking her front paws

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Bear

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shampooed our dog with Sentry Flea and tick Shampoo. Shortly after noticed he was lethargic. Immediately we reshampooed him and rinsed him thoroughly. This morning he ate fine but still seems to be a bit lethargic.

Shampoo Allergies Average Cost

From 493 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250