Atopy Allergy In Dogs

An important note for dog owners

You want your animal to look excellent and feel good. However if he’s struggling with atopy– an allergic skin reaction– neither is the case. The itching can make your dog or cat unpleasant, and soreness, rashes, bleeding, and skin infections are worse. They can be brought on by ecological allergic reactions, which typically can be treated with a series of things, from getting rid of known irritants from the environment to antihistamines and supplements to immunotherapy or immunosuppression, depending on the allergic reaction and the pet.

What Are Atopic Allergies In Dogs?

Atopy (likewise described as “atopic dermatitis” and formerly referred to as “allergic inhalant dermatitis”) is a common canine and feline condition where allergens present in the environment result an allergy in the skin. It is one of a number of recognized causes of allergic skin disease, a typical umbrella term for a group of allergic reactions that manifest in the skin.

Atopy is believed to occur when particular proteins present in the environment are taken into the body through inhalation or direct contact with the skin. When they precipitate an allergic reaction, these proteins are described as allergens. When the allergic reaction occurs in the skin, the result is usually an inflammation of the skin we refer to as “allergic dermatitis.”

Common irritants consist of pollen (from lawns, trees, and weeds), mold spores, house dust/house dust mite proteins, insect proteins, and other various proteins that may also come from human skin or natural fibers, for example. Atopic animals will show extremely customized responses to one or more ecological irritants.

A hereditary basis is well comprehended to underlie atopic dermatitis in dogs, but this has actually not been shown in felines. In both species, other factors including location (regional pollens and plants), the existence of other allergens (like fleas) and endocrine diseases (like thyroid disease in dogs)– can worsen, imitate, and/or underlie atopic disease.

Animals with atopy become extremely itchy; the resultant scratching causes skin injuries and secondary skin infections. Atopy is generally first seen in dogs and cats younger than 3 years of age, although older pets can likewise be impacted. Regrettably, family pets that establish atopy are typically pestered by skin issues throughout their lives.

Signs and Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs

Atopic dermatitis is characterized by the variable presence of itching, soreness, pustules (infected pimples), wheals (like hives), and crusts. The face, legs, feet, ventrum (belly, underarms, and groin), and ears are frequently impacted, but no area of the body is off limitations. In dogs, ear infections are very frequently associated with atopy.

Felines normally display signs of extreme licking in an in proportion pattern (on the belly, back, and behind the legs is most typical) and/or they can establish tiny scabs around the neck, tail base, or somewhere else on the body.

A more detailed list of signs in dogs and felines consists of:

  • Generalized scratching and rubbing
  • Redness of the skin
  • Hair loss from repeated biting, licking, chewing, and/or scratching
  • Skin rash, infections, and irritation
  • Scabs and bleeding
  • Unusual smell
  • Skin thickening and color modifications
  • Ear infections
  • Scales and crusts on the skin

A hallmark of atopic dermatitis is that signs have the tendency to be seasonal and tend to wax and wane in seriousness. Nevertheless, pets that dislike house dust mites or other indoor irritants can have year-round issues, because exposure to indoor irritants is not depending on season of the year.

The majority of animals are identified based upon signs, history, and response to treatments, but getting to a definitive medical diagnosis can be a complicated affair. Considered that every affected animal suffers a highly customized version of the disease, determining what an animal dislikes may need intradermal (skin) testing and/or serum testing (blood screening).

Intradermal skin screening can in some cases be carried out at your veterinarian’s office. Nevertheless, due to the fact that the allergens used for this test are very particular (they vary depending upon your area of the country), your vet might refer you to a veterinary dermatologist.

Usually, an area of fur is shaved from your pet to expose adequate skin to carry out the test. Tiny amounts of each test irritant are injected utilizing really small needles just under your animal’s skin in different areas. After a short waiting duration, your veterinarian will take a look at the injection sites to determine the degree of local allergic response (soreness or a little hive). Allergens that your animal is not allergic to will not cause a reaction, and allergens that your animal is allergic to will cause a response that represents the severity of the allergy. Animals are kept an eye on thoroughly during the procedure in case a serious response happens and treatment is required.

The other type of allergy screening, serum allergic reaction screening, is becoming more popular. The test is carried out at a laboratory using a small blood sample taken from your family pet so that your veterinarian does not need to shave your animal or have special irritants on hand. Just like intradermal skin screening, the outcomes of serum allergy screening can reveal which irritants are not causing an allergy in your pet, which ones are causing a moderate response, and which ones are triggering a more major response.

Depending upon which type of allergy test is performed, you might need to cease your pet’s allergy medications before the test. Otherwise, the test results may be impacted. Your veterinarian will inform you which medications can be used and which ones might need to be terminated.

Affected Breeds

Any type of cat or dog may be affected by atopy, but in dogs it is most prevalent among Boston Terriers, Boxers, most Bulldog types (especially English Bulldogs), Cairn Terriers, Shar-peis, Dalmatians, English Setters, Golden Retrievers, Irish setters, Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Pugs, Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, and Wire-Haired Fox Terriers.

Treatment for Atopy Allergy In Dogs

4 classifications of treatment have been explained. They make up:

1. Prevention (eliminating irritants from the environment or altering environments entirely).

This is generally undertaken just after a list of irritants is identified by means of blood or intradermal screening.

2. Symptomatic therapy (as when utilizing antihistamines, fatty acid supplements, medicated shampoos, and antimicrobials for typical secondary bacterial and yeast infections) is the most frequently suggested approach to treatment, especially for animals with mild medical signs:.

Antihistamines: Drugs like diphenhydramine have couple of side effects compared to some other therapies. However, some family pets will not react to antihistamines alone. Prevent providing human drugs to your animal unless directed to do so by your veterinarian.

Related article: Zyrtec for Dogs – Canine allergy medication.

Fatty acid supplements: Special fatty acid supplements might help minimize skin inflammation and are often used in combination with other medications.

Topical treatments: Medicated shampoos, leave-on conditioners, and lotions can eliminate a pet’s itching or help with secondary conditions such as fungal infections, bacterial infections, and scaling. Treatment should be duplicated frequently for best outcomes, but be sure to follow all label directions thoroughly. Avoid making use of human products on animals unless they are recommended by your vet.

3. Immunotherapy (using particular allergens to desensitize a family pet to the proteins)

As soon as a list of “issue” irritants is determined via blood or intradermal skin testing, a specialized “serum” consisting of little quantities of these irritants can be developed particularly for your pet. Through injection of percentages of the allergy serum over time, many animals experience a reduced reaction to the irritants.

This treatment, called immunotherapy, normally must be continued for several months to years to achieve results. With immunotherapy, the pet owner normally administers the allergic reaction serum injections at home. If you are unpleasant with providing injections, ask your veterinary care group if the injections can be given at your veterinarian’s workplace. The first injections are more diluted, and each following injection has a slightly higher concentration of the irritants. Your vet will schedule the injections according to specific guidelines– more frequently in the start, and eventually tapering to one injection every few weeks. Lots of animals react to this program. Others might not, especially if they have other hidden conditions.

4. Immunosuppressive therapy (with corticosteroids like prednisone, cyclosporine, or other drugs)

Unfortunately, some animals’ atopic disease can not be controlled by any of the above approaches and their lifestyle may suffer considerably unless more intensive drug therapy is initiated:.

Steroids: Drugs like prednisone or dexamethasone, which are called corticosteroids, are frequently used since they have the tendency to be really reliable and safe for short-term use. These medications can be given by injection, by mouth, or as topical lotions or hair shampoos. Corticosteroids can provide immediate relief but might have unfavorable side effects, such as increased cravings, thirst, and urination. In some cases, duplicated or long-lasting use of steroids can be related to an increased risk of medical issues such as liver issues, adrenal gland issues, and diabetes.

Cyclosporine: Cyclosporine can be used to manage atopic dermatitis in dogs and allergic dermatitis (consisting of atopy) in cats. The medication is offered as soon as a day for 4 weeks (4 to 6 weeks in cats, based upon response). After that, the dose can be tapered to each day or two times weekly, as had to preserve efficiency. Scientists estimate that over 70% of dogs and felines respond to this treatment; nevertheless, cyclosporine can be costly, and its side effects might include indigestion and diarrhea. Ask your veterinarian if cyclosporine may be a great option for your pet.


A lot of the treatments explained here can be used to control atopy over the long term. Avoidance of problem allergens might be the best way to prevent flare-ups for dogs and felines with atopy.

Reyus Mammadli/ author of the article

I have had pets since childhood: cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, geese, chickens, ducks, parrots, aquarium fish and dogs (in the yard). Of course, I constantly encountered diseases of pets and treated them. Glad to be able to share my skills and experience, as well as advice on caring for and adapting these critters and birds.

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