What is it?
• Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common causes of chronic itching in dogs
• Atopic dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction (hypersensitivity) to one or more substances in the environment
• It typically shows itself around 1-3 years of age
What causes it?
• Various substances, called allergens, can trigger atopic dermatitis
• The condition is caused by an inappropriate immune reaction rather than the allergens themselves
• Things such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, or feathers can cause this type of reaction
• The genetic make-up of the pet is also a major factor
• When the barrier function of the skin is impaired due to genetics or self-trauma, allergens can penetrate the skin and trigger allergies
• Symptoms include mild to severe scratching as well as ear, yeast, and bacterial infections
• The condition can be seasonal or year round
What tests are needed?
• Diagnosis is usually based upon history of clinical signs such as itching or biting
• Allergy testing can be done by intradermal skin or blood tests
• Your veterinarian should do a full examination to eliminate any other possible skin condition such as parasites
How is it treated?
•An environmental allergy cannot be removed, but it can be alleviated to make the dog more comfortable
• Some dogs may outgrow their allergies just like humans
• Immunotherapy can be performed at home are often recommended, but may take up to a year to show results
•Antihistamines or glucocorticoids can be prescribed to control itch
• Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation of the skin
• Topical therapy like medicated baths can remove allergens and reduce itching
•Ask your veterinarian for more effective and new oral or injectable treatments
What follow up care is needed?
• Atopic dermatitis is life-long and requires long term management
• To minimize flare-ups, the dog should be examined by a veterinarian regularly
• There are many therapeutic options for your dog that can be modified to fit the season or severity of the reaction