Health - Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is known by many names throughout the dog world. Among these names are:

  • Canine atopic dermatitis
  • Canine inhalant dermatitis
  • Allergic inhalant dermatitis
  • Atopic disease
  • Inhalant allergy

This condition is a commonly occurring, inherited, hypersensitivity to pollens or other environmental allergens, as a result of a disorder of the immune system. The primary clinical indication is itching. This itching can take one or multiple forms, and is most often exhibited by:

  • Licking of the feet
  • Chewing of the feet
  • The groin area
  • Rubbing and scratching the face
  • Rubbing and scratching the ears
  • Rubbing and scratching the front torso
  • Rubbing sides or buttocks on furniture or any available object
  • Frequent periods of “sit and spin” sessions

Additionally, affected dogs can display:

  • Reversed sneezing
  • Coat discoloration
  • Crusty reddened eyes
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Papules 
  • Hair loss.

This condition can vary greatly from region to region.
The most common allergies are:

  • Dander
  • Pollens of grasses, weeds, and trees
  • Dust and molds

The irritants can be seasonal and some regions of the United States have a higher incidence of irritants than others. Found in both males and females, it has been found that this condition has a higher incidence in females. The most common age of onset is between one and three years of age. It is alarmingly common in French Bulldogs, and its origins are a mystery at this time. It has been theorized that hypothyroidism is at root of this disorder, but thyroid testing of the dogs which we have had with this condition have been negative. Perhaps there is some other, underlying immune suppression at work which are not yet equipped to pin point or diagnose. Idealistically, avoidance of the irritating substance would present the most desirable long-term means of treatment. This can be achieved in some cases, but in most this is not a practical solution.


Medically, there are numerous treatments such as glucocorticoids and/or antihistamines, and  in some cases hypo-sensitization is the best means of treatment.

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