Expert Articles: Canine Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs :: What is it and how do you treat it?

Canine Atopic Dermatitis is a Common Problem

Most pet owners are surprised the first time they have a pet diagnosed with canine Atopic Dermatitis. Many people don't realize that allergies are just as common in pets as they are in humans, and can cause dogs quite a bit of suffering. Pet owners are also often surprised to learn that atopic dermatitis in dogsis often caused by airborne allergens even though the symptoms show up on the skin.

What is Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

The basic definition of this common skin problem is a predisposition to develop allergic symptoms following exposure to substances that are usually harmless, but have triggered an allergic response. Two of the most common offenders are dust mites and pollen, which are incredibly difficult for pets to avoid, since dust mites are virtually everywhere and pollen permeates the air outdoors.

The most common symptoms of canine atopic dermatitis include itching, excessive scratching, rubbing on the carpet, hair loss, greasy or flaky skin with a foul odor, excessive chewing on the paws and areas such as the groin and armpits. Over time, the skin that is scratched can develop hot spots - raw, inflamed areas - that may become infected. Unfortunately, once dogs develop pet atopy they usually suffer more and more each year because their skin becomes more sensitive over time. What may start out as canine atopic dermatitis only in the spring and fall can become a year-round problem as your dog ages and his skin becomes increasingly sensitive.

Some dogs are more prone to developing allergies than others. Dog atopic dermatitis is especially prevalent in Boxers, bulldogs, Retrievers, Shar-Peis, Beagles, Dalmatians and Irish Setters, although any breed of dog can develop it. In fact, the incidence of atopic dermatitis in dogs is increasing every year according to veterinarians.

If your dog develops signs of pet atopic dermatitis, he or she should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Steroids or anti-itch shampoos can help relieve the itching in the short-term, and antihistamines or fatty acid therapy can get the allergies under control for a period of time. In severe cases where the dog's skin is infected, antibiotics may be needed to clear up the damage. If the allergies persist, regular desensitization shots may be required. It's also important to minimize your pet's exposure to the allergens if at all possible, otherwise they will return once treatment is halted.

Preventing Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Although atopic dermatitis in dogs is on the rise, there are ways you can help protect your pet against it. You can't avoid pollen entirely since your dog will spend time out of doors, but if you can keep the air in your home clean and fresh, you can minimize the potential for an allergic reaction. You can also clean your air of dust mites and mold spores indoors so that they are no longer a potential problem.

One of the best ways to get rid of allergens in the home is with the PetAirapy system. The PetAirapy system removes airborne allergens such as pollen and kills or inactivates airborne micro-organisms such as mold. When you have successfully killed or removed these from the air, they can't trigger allergies in your dog, preventing pet atopy from taking hold and making your dog miserable.

When you take your pet outside for a walk, he or she may briefly be exposed to pollen or get it on his or her paws. Once your PetAirapy system is in place, all you need to do is wipe off the paws to remove the pollen from skin contact - once your pet is breathing the fresh, clean indoor air of your home, the allergens will be gone!

Don't let your dog suffer from canine atopic dermatitis any longer. Talk to your veterinarian about how to treat the outbreak, then do something to prevent future problems. Installing a PetAirapy filtration system in your home is the ideal way to prevent future outbreaks and make your dog happier and healthier for years to come.