Atopic Dermatitis

Dogs are also allergic to specific allergens such as pollens, plants, animal danders, and insects. These canines are also allergic to particular food and medicines. Atopic Dermatitis is a type of Skin Allergy and can make the dog suffer a lot.

What is Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs?

It is an inflammatory and a chronic skin condition which has a relation to allergies. In fact, according to reports, Atopic Dermatitis is the second most common form of skin disease in dogs. The symptoms or reactions are a result of grass, house dust mites, mold spores, and other environmental allergens.

Puppies are mostly the target of these allergens and are affected between three and six months. Although in some cases it is so mild that it can be tough to diagnose until the third year.


Some breeds are more prone to develop the condition than others. They are:

  • Boxers
  • Retrievers
  • Bulldogs
  • Dalmatians
  • Shar-Peis
  • Beagles
  • Irish Settlough

However, any dog breed can develop this condition. According to some reports and censors, Atopic Dermatitis is substantially increasing in dogs and is a significant concern.

What to do when your dog suffers from Atopic Dermatitis?

If the itching accompanies the condition, then steroids or anti-itch shampoos can relieve the dog from frequent itching. Antihistamine or fatty acid therapy can help to alleviate the allergies for a period. In extreme cases where the skin is the target, the intervention of antibiotics may clear up the damage.

Symptoms & Types of AD

In most of the cases, symptoms progressively worsen over time and become more apparent during certain seasons. The areas of the body which are more prone to this condition are wrists, ankle, muzzle, ears, groin, underarms, around the eyes, and between the toes.

The significant signs of this condition (especially on the face, paws, & underarms) are:

  1. Itching
  2. Scratching
  3. Licking
  4. Rubbing

Does Genetic Make-up helps to Develop Atopic Dermatitis?

Both Genetic Make-up and environmental allergens can interact and allow the development of Atopic Dermatitis. In that case, the condition can be the result of an inappropriate reaction in the immune system rather than the allergens themselves.

Can/should I Test my Dog for Atopic Dermatitis?

Most Vet Dermatologists use Allergy Testing to formulate an allergy vaccine, not for diagnostic purpose. Some of the tests are:

Atopic Dermatitis

  1. Intradermal Tests (IDT): The animal is either sedated or anesthetized, and an area on the chest is selected and clipped off the hair. Then about fifty allergens are injected into the skin of the animal. Certain medications such as Antihistamines, Prednisone and some topical Cortisone may aid in the process.
  2. Percutaneous Prick Test (PPT): Some pinpoint pricks deliver a drop of allergenic extract on the surface of the dog’s skin. Similar to the IDT, the reactions are given grades regarding their size and inflammation. The PPT test causes minimal discomfort and can even be performed on dogs who are awake with a lot of petting on their back.
  3. Hair, blood, and saliva tests: Serum or blood test done by different companies can show poor agreement on one another. Instead, one independent study of blood, hair and the saliva allergy test in most cases will report positive reactions to tap water, fake fur and cow serum from a stuffy animal. For this reason, some canine experts say to avoid this test.


  • Hyposensitization or Immunotherapy: Back to back episodes of injections made from the allergens a dog is sensitive to can be given to make it tolerant towards them. After the initial episodes, the dog is likely to be less sensitive towards these allergens. Owners usually provide these specially crafted injections a home. Oral medication is also an option.
  • Anti-Inflammatory medications: Atopica, Apoquel, fatty acid supplements, prednisone, and other supplements may aid in reducing itching. Atopica and Apoquel are the two medications which have the approval of FDA. Apoquel works to block them with the name of IL-31 which triggers itching in dogs. Again there is the availability of a monoclonal antibody which can also prevent IL-31. CADI with the contemporary name of Cytopoint is an injection prescribed every two to four weeks.
  • Topical Medication: Medicated conditioners and shampoos also provide relief to the dogs. Bathing will remove the allergens from the surface. The medicated content of the shampoos and conditioners help to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal Medication: It is because dogs with the AD are prone to suffer from frequent bacterial and fungal infection, the veterinarian has to address both these issues. Treatments include the use of medicines such as Cephalexin, Simplicef, Convenia, Fluconazole, or Ketoconazole. The owner can also make the topical therapy a part of the medication process.

The owner also has to make sure that the dog is on a year-round flea control program. Dogs with Atopic Dermatitis are more prone to be sensitive towards flea attacks. The flea products that work the best are Bravecto, Vectra, Nexguard, Comfortis, and Revolution.

Managing & Living with this Condition

Unfortunately resolving the AD is quite tough. Once the veterinarian starts the treatment, he checks the pet every week for the next eight weeks for the effectiveness of the medicines. After itching stops, the pet will need a visit to the clinic once every six to eight months.

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