Allergic Atopic Skin Disease in Dogs

What is Allergic or Atopic Skin Disease?

Dogs are commonly allergic to many different things.  This manifests as an itchy scratchy dog resulting in very red and irritated skin.  This disease can severely debilitate the dog making it's life extremely unpleasant.  The allergy sets up a vicious cycle that gets progressively worse if not treated.

What is the cause?

There are many allergies that can initiate this condition.  The initial biting introduces bugs from the mouth into the skin.  These secondary bugs are even more allergic than the primary cause.  Specifically Staphlococcus bacteria and Yeast are the offending "Super Allergens."

Because there can be many causes of similar symptoms, diagnosis and treatment is a process of elimination.


What can be done?

1. It is important to maintain a basic level of flea control.  Whilst fleas may not be the primary cause, these dogs are very allergic to fleas and they will only exacerbate the problem.  We commonly recommend applying Frontline Plus to the skin on the back of the neck on the same day each month.  This is very convenient and easy to apply.  In very difficult cases we recommend Confortis.  This is a tablet that needs to be given monthly but is the "Rolls Royce" in control of fleas because it kills the fleas so quickly before they have a chance to bite.

2. Treatment of Secondary Staph and Yeast

This is achieved by treating with a combination of antibiotics.  For some dogs this is all that is required.

3. Anti-inflammatory Treatment:

For short term treatment cortisone (prednisolone) is very effective in relieving the symptoms.  We avoid using Prednisolone longterm because of side effects.  These include drinking a lot of water, fatty liver and obesity.  For longterm relief we use Atopica which is a non-cortisone anti-inflammatory.  A revisit after 3 weeks of initial treatment is necessary to adjust the dose.  For some dogs the problem is seasonal during the spring and summer.  For these dogs it is important to resume treatment with Atopica in the following September before the secondary Staph and Yeast take hold.

4. Food Response Trial

If a food allergy is suspected then we recommend a Food Response Trial.  This involves changing the diet from any Chicken based diet.  We recommend Eukanuba Response FP.  If the trial is started it is important to strictly adhere to the new diet for 6 weeks and revisit to assess any improvement before resuming any other diet.

5. Allergy Testing and Desentisizing Vaccine

Allergy testing can be arranged with  Dr Rob Hilton.  Rob will meet with you at our Clinic and perform the Allergy testing under a short term anaesthetic.  The hair must be clipped off the side of the dog and the 60 or so allergies injected under the skin in a grid pattern.  The test is read 3 days later and a vaccine is made from the offending allergens.  This is administered regularly to desensitise the dog to these allergies.  This treatment whilst not the whole answer can provide addisional relief to the symptoms in very difficult cases.