Itchy & Scratchy? No Need to Be!

Like humans, dogs can develop an allergic response to substances that they have had repeated exposure to.  These substances are known as “allergens.”  When this allergic reaction takes the form of an inflamed chronic skin disease, it is known as atopic dermatitis.


When dogs are experiencing atopic dermatitis, they will often excessively rub, lick, chew, bite or scratch at various parts of their body, most commonly their feet, muzzle, ears, armpits or groin.  This excessive irritation of the skin often results in hair loss and/or reddening and thickening of the skin. 


Atopic dermatitis can occur in any breed of dog, though it’s more commonly found in golden retrievers, terriers, Irish setters, Lhasa apsos, Dalmatians, bulldogs and sheep dogs.  Incidences of atopic dermatitis typically start to present themselves between the ages of 1 and 3 years.


If you suspect your pet may be suffering from atopic dermatitis, it is advisable to seek medical attention from your veterinarian.  They can perform skin and blood tests to diagnose the situation.  It’s not uncommon for dogs with atopic dermatitis to also suffer from other concurrent skin issues such as environmental or food allergies, parasites, and/or bacterial or yeast infections, all of which your veterinarian can assist with.


What if your dog IS diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?  What can you expect treatment-wise?


There are actually a host of treatment options available for dogs suffering from atopic dermatitis.  In simple cases, avoidance of the allergen in question or anti-histamines might be prescribed.  In other cases, medications such as oral or topical steroids or cyclosporine might be necessary.  Your veterinarian may also suggest fatty acid supplements, a bathing regime with medicated shampoo, or allergen specific immunotherapy (which is the administration of gradually increasing quantities of the allergen causing the allergic reaction until desensitization occurs).  Treatment will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with your veterinarian tailoring the treatment to meet the specific needs of your pet and their skin condition.


Don’t delay – there’s no need for your pet to itch!

Itchy Dog


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