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Atopic Dermatitis in dogs.

Here at IndulgeYourPet, we’ve found that one of the best ways to understand how a particular medical condition affects your dog or cat is to break down and define the actual terms used to describe what is happening to your dog or cat.

For example…

Most folks aren’t going to go around saying that they believe that their dog may be suffering from atopic dermatitis!  Instead, most folks will probably say that it looks like a pet has some rash or itchy skin that is causing pain and forcing them to spend all day inching.

Or maybe they’ll say something like…

Their pet has some type of allergy or is suffering from some allergic reaction that is developing cuts and lesions on their skin!  But those probably aren’t the terms that your veterinarian is going to use so before we begin discussing what one can do to help alleviate any pain or discomfort your pet may be suffering from as a result of their Atopic Dermatitis, let’s take a moment and define the two terms used to describe this condition.

Atopic Dermatitis Defined

Atopic (or atopy):  a term used to describe a “reaction type” an individual may suffer due to a hypersensitivity to a particular allergen.  Atopic reactions will generally cause dermatitis or asthmatic reactions.

Dermatitis:  is a term used to describe a condition in which the skin becomes red, swollen or sore and in some cases can even cause blistering of the skin.

And when we combine the two…

We get a condition in which some type of environmental allergen is causing your pet to develop an allergic skin reaction. Unfortunately, if left untreated could lead to the development of lesions and secondary infections which could become quite serious!

Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosis

Diagnosing atopic dermatitis is never all that difficult of a process simply because in most cases, the symptoms  or clinical signs will be noticeable and will usually consist of:

  • A rash that may manifest itself as a:
    • Red patch of skin,
    • Pustules,
    • Hives,
    • Or scaly skin.

Your pet will likely show signs of discomfort and you’ll probably notice that they will spend much more time itching (pruritus) or grooming the infected area.  Dogs may also suffer an increased risk of suffering from ear infections as well.

Causes of Atopic Dermatitis

Determining the exact “cause” of your pet’s atopic dermatitis can often be difficult simply because it could be any one of a million different environmental allergens that they may or may not be exposed to daily.

That said however some of the more common triggers will typically include:

  • Pollen,
  • House dust mites,
  • Mold,
  • Malassezia dermatitis or Malassezia pachydermatis (triggered by abnormal overgrowth of yeast commonly found on most canine breeds)
  • Animal dander,
  • Household detergents and chemicals,
  • Ect, etc…

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment and prevention of atopic dermatitis will generally center around first determining what allergen is causing your pet to suffer and then limiting your pet’s exposure to that allergen.

To do this, your veterinarian will likely ask you a series of questions about what types of allergens your pet may be exposed to.  This is particularly true if your pet had been “allergy free” for some time before suddenly developing their condition.

In cases like these the sudden emergence of their condition could indicate some “new” type of allergen that has been introduced to your pet’s life such as a new cleaning product that could easily be removed.  In which case… problem solved!


Most cases don’t work out this easily, so your veterinarian may suggest that your pet receive some allergy testing (allergin-specific ige testing) so that a better understanding might be achieved by identifying precisely what is causing your pet to suffer from their condition.

Ultimately, your veterinarian will want to be able to prescribe a specific allergen-specific immunotherapy program that will likely consist of anti-inflammatory medications (antihistamine) designed to suppress the overreaction of one’s immune system causing atopic dermatitis.

Now at this point…

We like to remind our readers that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not medical professionals and are certainly not veterinarians!  All we are is a bunch of folks who care about animals and want to try and shed some light on some of the more common medical conditions certain animals may suffer from.

So, if you think your loved one is suffering from atopic dermatitis, visit your veterinarian!  They’re the pros so see what they think is wrong with your pet!

Our only suggestion would be…

That if and after your loved one is cured, consider possibly looking at what options might be available to you with regards to purchasing a pet insurance policy because this “bout” with atopic dermatitis could be just what you need to make you understand that you’re loved one could be diagnosed with a SERIOUS medical condition next time.  This condition might make it difficult for you to afford the care on your own.

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