Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs

Atopic dermatitis in dogs can affect all breeds. It is treatable but requires veterinary attention. It is also important to identify the underlying cause of the condition as there are a number of factors which could contribute to it.

More Information about Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that is caused by an allergic reaction. The reaction is usually caused by hypersensitivity to something in the dog's environment. Although the condition is treatable, for it to clear up completely it is important to identify what the trigger is.

Allergic reactions occur when your dog's body produces antibodies to counteract substances that aren't actually harmful. Although dogs can be born with allergies, some allergies can develop as a result of illness or disease early in life.

Common substances that dogs might be allergic to include pollen, dust mites, fungi and mold.

The Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis

The symptoms of atopic dermatitis will usually present themselves within the first two years of the dog's life. Some of the symptoms of atopic dermatitis may include:

  • Excessive licking
  • Excessive grooming
  • Excessive scratching
  • Hot or red-colored ears
  • Spots
  • Ear infections
  • Saliva staining (when light fur in the affected area turns red-brown)
  • Change in skin colour from pink to a mottled black.

These symptoms can be caused by other conditions, such as flea bites. Usually, vets will conduct a number of allergy tests to rule out other causes before treating your dog for atopic dermatitis.

Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis

There are a number of conditions that can arise as a result of atopic dermatitis that will need immediate and separate treatment before the cause of the dermatitis itself is addressed. If your dog has injured himself scratching and the wound has become infected, then he will need a course of antibiotics to clear this up. Shampoo therapy is also effective, especially for yeast infections.

Once any additional ailments have been treated, there are a number of drugs your vet might prescribe. Fatty acids and antihistamines are effective when used together.

If the atopic dermatitis is severe then your vet might prescribe your pet antibiotics. These can cause side effects so will usually only be prescribed when your dog's allergic reaction is very severe.

Hyposensitising vaccines work by administering a dose of the substance your dog is allergic to through an injection. Over a period of months, your dog's system will become desensitized to the effects of the allergen.

Allergen avoidance is a method of preventing an allergic reaction. This is useful when the allergy is produced by something like dust mites. In this case, preventing your dog from entering any bedrooms where it might be exposed to dust mites is an effective way of preventing further reactions.

Atopic dermatitis can make your dog feel uncomfortable. However, it is treatable and, once the underlying cause has been found, your dog will be healthy, happy and able to return to living a good quality of life.