Atopic dermatitis (AD) is one of the most common causes of chronic, itchy skin problems in dogs. AD occurs when your dog is sensitive to some kind of environmental allergen, like dust mites, fleas, food ingredients, or pollen. Atopic dermatitis leads to irritated, itchy skin, particularly on the paws and face. What can pet parents do to help dogs who suffer from this uncomfortable condition?
The International Committee on Allergic Diseases in Animals (ICADA) has come out with a set of updated guidelines on treating dogs with AD. You can download the full report. Here are some tips based on the recommendations.
Treating Chronic Canine Atopic Dermatitis: If you suspect your dog is suffering from food allergies, talk to your vet about conducting a “restriction-provocation” dietary trial to determine if a food ingredient is the culprit. A year-round flea control regimen is important for dogs with AD, as is the control of dust mites in the house. A once a week bath using lukewarm water and a mild, non-irritating shampoo is also helpful. Talk to your vet about oral and topical medications for chronic AD.
Treating Canine AD Flare-ups: If your dog is experiencing a bad flare-up, try to identify and remove the allergen. The most common are dust mites, pollen, flea bites, and food ingredients. Flare-ups can also be caused by skin and ear infections. Bathe your dog using an emollient, lipid-based shampoo (ask your vet about brands). Talk to your vet about topical and oral medications that can relieve the severity of flare-ups.
Preventing the Recurrence of Canine AD: Continue to make sure your dog’s food, body, and environment are as free from known allergens as possible through diet, flea and dust mite control, and proper skin and coat care. Talk to your vet about the use of topical medicines and trying allergen-specific immunotherapy, i.e. allergy shots, for your dog.