Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the term used to describe environmental (indoor and/or outdoor) allergies. It is a common problem in dogs and cats that can cause a significant amount of misery in affected animals. Allergies are unlikely to be cured, but with a thorough investigation including diagnostics, proper treatments and owner compliance, allergies can be managed. Proper management can make an animal very comfortable and allow it to live a normal quality of life. In addition to traditional injectable immunotherapy (allergy shots), oral immunotherapy is now an option.
But before we discuss treatments, let’s first take a quick look at what we know about allergies and atopic dermatitis in pets.
Common allergens that cause AD include tree, grass and weed pollens; human and animal danders; storage and dust mites; mold spores, wool, dust and insects. These allergic substances are usually absorbed through the skin but can also be inhaled. Unlike humans, animals rarely have a runny nose, tearing eyes or respiratory signs. Instead, allergies in pets are usually expressed in the skin, and affected animals will itch, lick and/or chew themselves. The skin may be red, irritated or thickened from the chronic trauma and left susceptible to secondary infection. The ears may be affected as well. These allergies may start at any age, but they usually develop within the first three years of life or after a recent relocation/move. Allergies may start as a seasonal problem, but then can develop into an all-year-round issue. Atopic dermatitis is a heritable disease and is more commonly reported in certain breeds of dogs (e.g., terriers) and cats (e.g., Abyssinians).
Animals diagnosed with AD may be pruritic (itchy) in many regions of their body. The main areas affected include the feet (between the toes), ears, groin, armpits, legs, under the neck and the abdominal area. One or all regions may be affected. Atopic (allergic) animals usually have seasonal itchiness, but this may progress to a year-round concern. The ears may also be affected and can become itchy, red, painful, and malodorous with excessive debris and wax buildup. Clinical signs may wax and wane on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis as different things in the environment are exposed to the pet. The clinical signs are due to a certain threshold of allergens that, once reached, causes flare-ups. Secondary bacterial and yeast skin infections are very common and can become a recurrent problem.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
The world’s population of northern white
rhinoceroses is down to just four after the
death of Nabiré, a…
Our veterinary behaviorist reveals why
cats like to jump out at their owners and
what you can do to prevent the…
Parasites are not for the faint of heart!
Here are some that cats and dogs could
have without you even knowing.
Dr. Andy Roark chats with a spayed cat
who thinks she’s pregnant and a
stressed-out canine who ate a diaper.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your
lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down
more than 300 breeds for you.
No one wants his best friend to be sick in the car. Dr. Andy Roark (literally) reveals the many signs of motion…
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.