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Why are skin allergies in dogs often misdiagnosed?

Why are skin allergies in dogs often misdiagnosed?

4 ways to relieve your dog's skin lesions and rashes

I love how things happen. On the day I planned to write this article, I had decided to go for a beach run with my pup at the time, Skai, to clear my head and get inspiration before I started writing.

As soon as we got to the beach, a woman approached me and introduced herself as Helen. She asked about Skai and then told me she too had a dog but had to leave her at home because her dog had severe skin allergies.

I learned from Helen that her dog’s name was Nala and that she suffered from a skin rash on her back, around the lumbar region. She was put on a prescription of steroids, which, in general, causes severe side effects and a shortened lifespan. Helen was worried because her vet told her there was no other choice.

As I listened to Helen, I could not resist telling her that there was a drug-free solution to Nala’s problem. Skai watched me with the look of an ally. It was as if he was saying: “No worries dad, I know that this dog needs help. I’ll wait.”

Naturally, Helen was surprised when I told her that many dogs diagnosed with allergies are misdiagnosed.


The goal of this article is to focus on skin problems that are localized and not general. Good examples of localized problems are skin eruptions around the neck, the back, the armpits, abdomen, and the paws. In my experience, real allergies are a systemic problem and usually don’t affect a very localized area of skin.

So what is the real origin of these localized skin lesions and why is the skin on the rest of the body usually fine?

Many years ago, I noticed that most dogs with so-called skin allergies have certain patterns of distribution in their skin lesions. It also seemed these dogs have obvious back or muscle injuries and spasm.

After connecting the dots, I saw clearly that the location of the skin lesions and rashes and the location of a sore or injured back are related through the energy and nerve pathways. In some other cases, the affected skin would also be right over the local muscle sprain, for example on the leg.

To confirm what I saw, I started to treat these back and muscle injuries with mobility supplements and homeopathy and I worked closely with chiropractors and physiotherapists.

It was great to see that most patients recovered quickly and that they very rarely came back with skin problems. The main reason was that I paid a lot of attention to their musculoskeletal health, which reflects in healthy skin and the whole body.

Of course, there are some exceptions, such as patients with Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism and, in some cases, true allergies. These have to be addressed differently.


One should naturally ask why such a large number of dogs are misdiagnosed as allergic. In most cases, skin problems are just a reflection of what is going on inside the body and veterinarians have been conditioned to see them a certain way. It’s not common knowledge that skin issues are connected to musculoskeletal injuries and this connection has yet to be generally recognized. It will still take several years for this to become common knowledge.

Every year, thousands of vets gather for the International Congress of Small Animal Dermatology. Skin is a big problem and also a big business. The true causes of many skin problems are not researched because the solutions are mostly drug-free and inexpensive.


Let's put medicine aside for a moment and imagine a garden. It is lush and green and all the vegetables and fruit are thriving. This garden has a watering system that supplies each garden bed with plenty of water.

Suddenly, one branch of the watering system gets blocked, the gardener doesn’t notice and the carrots and lettuce in the affected garden bed start doing poorly, growing deformed, small and diseased.

The body can also be compared to a garden. The spine is the main supply channel that distributes energy to all the body parts, extremities, organs and also the skin. The energy pathways branch out at each vertebra, along the nerve pathways. They are commonly called energy lines or meridians.

If these pathways get blocked by a muscle or back injury, the flow of energy stops and the organs, extremities and skin supplied by these pathways will stop thriving. The “congested” or “blocked energy” areas appear to be closely related to the areas where skin eruptions, inflammation, missing hair and other skin problems are present.

Dogs also seem to scratch and chew such areas to massage the underlying muscles, which is mistaken for itching. This behavior is commonly related to muscle pain and tightness.

A practitioner or dog guardian can recognize these congested areas by feel and pressure. Dogs often react by twitching their skin, moving away or even by snapping if the pain is too severe. Increased heat in the affected area is also common.


Skin eruptions around the lumbar spine are very common in dogs when sprinting excessively and their lumbar region is strained. The tight lumbar muscles are very commonly connected to skin problems in the area and also on the hind legs and the back (caudal) portion of the abdomen.

To address such a skin condition I recommend:

Most dogs miraculously recover or at least dramatically improve.


Over the years, I have gotten used to “the looks” when I explain how I treat skin allergies in dogs. In a way, the situation can be compared to the flat earth concept. A few hundred years ago, people didn’t like the idea that our planet was a globe because they thought it was a flat pancake.

When I face such situations, I just remind myself that I am not here to seek the acceptance of the disbelievers, but to help dogs and those guardians whose minds are open. This way, they will be able to share their experience with their friends and the friends of their friends, until we reach the tipping point of shifting the current paradigms.

Allergies and skin conditions are no exceptions.


© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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