Canine Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)

Posted on August 28, 2015

Canine Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)

Canine Atopic Dermatitis is an inherited propensity for an allergic reaction with repeated exposure to an otherwise innocuous substance such as mites, dust, grass, and pollen beginning usually around 1 to 3 years of age.  The reactions can begin as early as six months of age, however rarely after seven years.  Allergies are a life-long  problem that usually do not go away.

Some breeds are known for the inherited Atopy.

  1. Chinese Shar Peis
  2. American Cocker spaniels
  3. Labrador retrievers
  4. Golden retrievers
  5. Irish setters
  6. English setters
  7. Terriers
  8. Dalmatians
  9. Beagles
  10. Bulldogs
  11. Lhasa apsos
  12. Pugs
  13. Boxers
  14. Miniature schnauzers

 

Diagnosis

Atopic dermatitis is diagnosed based on clinical signs, areas of itching.  Many times, there’s an initial seasonality to the problem, but not always.  Many dogs with seasonality begin to itch all year long.  Offending substances individually would not be enough to cause a problem, however together cause an itching.  (ie. fleas and pollen)

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis

  1. Rubbing
  2. Licking
  3. Biting
  4. Chewing
  5. Scratching
  6. Exaggerated itching complicated from a bacterial or yeast infection

Typical areas of irritation

  1. Feet
  2. Muzzle
  3. Ears
  4. Armpits
  5. Groin

Treatment

  1. Avoidance of allergy provoking substance
  2. Symptomatic therapy to control itching
  3. Desensitizing vaccines and boosters for specific irritants over time (3-6 months for improvement, and up to 9 to 12 for reevaluation)
  4. Decreasing exposure as much as possible
  5. Antihistamines and fatty acids given in combination can decrease itching in 10-20% of pets
  6. Nonsteroidal drugs
  7. Steroids, prednisone, cortisone to control severe itch for a short period of time
  8. Topical products with anti-itch properties
  9. Bathing pets in cool water

A skin or blood test to detect reaction to specific allergic substances can be used for detection.  A downside of antihistamines is they cause drowsiness, and different types may need to be tried.