Atopic Dermatitis is an inherited condition that is primarily found in dogs. Dogs with this condition develop an allergy to certain substances that are absorbed through the skin and inhaled. Atopic Dermatitis is extremely common among dogs and is estimated to affect up to ten percent of the whole dog population. This condition may not present itself right away, however, the atopy (or allergy to a substance that is exposed to skin or inhaled) will usually develop between the age of one and three years old. Although Atopic Dermatitis can be triggered by inhalation, the effects of this condition generally appear on the skin.
Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis are similar to allergy symptoms; most dogs with Atopic Dermatitis will demonstrate itchiness, sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes, and paw chewing or licking. If the Atopic Dermatitis becomes more severe, an itch-scratch cycle develops, leaving the dog with hair loss, deep scratches, scabs and irritated skin, which may lead to a skin infection. If you suspect that your dog may have Atopic Dermatitis, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination. Your veterinarian will make a diagnosis through a topical examination, based on the location of skin irritation, skin scrapings and the seasonal pattern of the skin irritation.
The most effective form of treatment for this particular condition is the removal of the aggravating allergen from your dog’s environment; however this is not always possible. To ease your dog’s discomfort, try to remove all other possible skin irritants, including fleas (by using an anti-flea treatment) and pollens (by wiping down your pet’s coat before going inside). Your veterinarian may recommend a medication that is specialized to treat Atopic Dermatitis, or another form of antihistamine to relieve any symptoms of allergy. Your veterinarian may also recommend a natural supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids in conjunction to your pet’s medication.