Dog Atopy refers to inhalant allergies in dogs that cause itchy skin and skin rashes. Atopy in dogs is one of the most common skin ailments that we see in our hospitals discusses the pattern of itchiness that most Atopic dogs display and how we treat atopy.
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Atopy in Dogs
Dog Atopy or Dog Inhalant Allergy is a condition that has a similar cause to “Hay Fever” in people. In people with Hay breathed in cause itchy eyes, runny nose and nasal congestion. In dogs, the same pollens and allergens when breathed in cause itchy skin. Although any pattern of dog skin itchiness can be a result of dog atopy, most of the time a particular pattern of dog skin itchiness occurs. This pattern usually includes itchy paws and feet, itchy sides of the chest area, and an itchy face. Sometimes, even the ears can be itchy as a result of canine atopy.
Dog Atopy often has a seasonal pattern to it; in other words, it may only occur during certain seasons (mostly the spring and summer). If your dog only itches in the summer, for example, then dog atopy should be high on the list of possible causes.
Dog Atopy is diagnosed by the history and symptoms, the physical exam findings and an allergy test. The allergy test involves either doing skin testing with tiny amounts of allergens injected intradermally and measuring the skin reaction, or taking a blood sample to test for antibodies to different allergens. With the results of either of these two tests, a vaccine kit is made up.
Dog Atopy or Dog Inhalant Allergy is treated by either treating the symptoms or by interfering with the immune systems response to the exposure to these inhalant allergens, or sometimes both. We can treat the symptoms with antihistamines or corticosteroids. Using corticosteroids continuously may cause liver problems in your dog and that is why many veterinary dermatologists are now using ultra- short acting corticosteroids that will be out of your dog’s system very quickly but still have a longer-acting effect on your dog’s itchiness. If your vet uses one of these corticosteroids, the effect on the liver is almost diminished to nothing. We can interfere with the dog’s immune system by either using the vaccine kit discussed above and giving a series of allergy hyposensitization injections, or by treating the immune system with cyclosporine.
- Sam Meisler DVM
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