What is Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs and Cats?
An inherited predisposition to develop an allergic response, manifesting as skin inflammation, to otherwise harmless substances, such as house dust, house dust mites, pollens, grasses, wandering jew and mould etc.
What happens to the body?
Atopic dermatitis is caused by an allergic response to a substance that a dog or cat has come into contact with, via the air and/or the environment, either by way of being absorbed through the respiratory tract or through contact onto the skin. After flea allergic dermatitis, it is the second most common skin disease in dogs.
Most allergies will become apparent by the ages of 1 to 3 years.
Symptoms will usually start off seasonal, with the increase in allergens. Quite often the first response can be near the end of summer. As the animal has this response it starts to lower the immune system, the animal will start to become more allergic to more substances, this is when the symptoms can continue to become year round.
The immune system makes antibodies to particular substances that the body is sensitive to. These antibodies sit in the skin waiting to come in contact with the protein of allergens. Upon this happening they initiate a response to attack and destroy the invader. In atopic dogs this is an over reaction to a usually harmless substance.
Chronic self trauma can lead on to other skin diseases such as bacterial pyodermas.
Studies have shown that in families where the dam and sire both had atopic skin diseases, up to 60% of their off spring will develop an allergic disease. Where as the off spring of two dogs that are unaffected by skin allergies this figure can be reduced down to 10%.
What are the signs?
In the early stages it may not be so obvious, the animal may start to scratch, particularly at the ears and under carriage of the body, there could be feet chewing or licking, if you’re animal has brown stain on their fur it is usually a sign of licking, as the saliva turns their fur this colour. They could rub their face, have watery or inflamed eyes and sneeze.
As the reaction develops and deepens the scratching and licking can go to a deeper level, the animal can scratch or nibble until it is bleeding and raw. They can be losing fur, get scabs and sores that crust over. This is when secondary bacterial infections can set in.
Ears can also be involved, they can get red and inflamed, and the animals could scratch then and do injury to flaps and inside of the ear. They can have a brown waxy discharge that can have an offensive smell.
With the scratching they can develop thickened areas of skin that can loss the normal colour in the pigment and turn dark brown.
Remembering all animals are individuals so every animal will not show every symptom from above and some will be more severe than others. Some pets can be very miserable and depressed with these symptoms.
What can you do to help?
Trying to find out what the animal is allergic to is a start, then to try and minimise contact with it. Changing to a raw diet will definitely help. Giving oat meal baths will help reduce the irritation.
Remedies in the Natural Pet range that can help to support the normal immune response of your pet that is suffering from Atopic Dermatitis are:
Spring – for allergies to grass, pollen and wandering jew
HDM – for allergies to house dust mites and house dust
Immune Tonic – to support the immune system
Liver Tonic – to support the liver and the immune system
We also offer a full consultation service, where we can develop a treatment plan individualised for your pet. If this is of interest please email or phone.