Springtime means hay fever for us and many of our furry friends can feel the itch too. Atopic dermatitis is the most common skin condition that is noticed in dogs. Many dogs can suffer this condition, but it is more present in specific breeds such as Staffordshire terriers, West Highland White terriers, French and British bulldogs and Maltese terriers. Do not be fooled though, just because you dog isn’t one of these breeds doesn’t mean they still can’t suffer from atopic dermatitis. Some common signs of this skin issue include excessive licking at certain areas specifically the feet, excess rolling, scratching and restlessness. This issue can develop very early in puppies, as early as three months. Unfortunately, clinical signs or behavioural signs of discomfort may not occur until much later, such as a year old. This can be confusing to owners who have never noticed allergies before, then at a year old suddenly their pup cannot stop itching. But as will any skin issue, understanding more about atopic dermatitis can help us on the way to controlling it.

The allergy itself arises from a defect in the skin’s barrier. This defect allows some microscopic allergens to break through the skin and cause irritation that can continue indefinitely. This reaction can be triggered by a variety of products such as dust mites, grass types, certain plants and pollen amongst others. As you can see from the examples given these are both environmental and indoor factors and simply restricting a pet’s time outside will not fix the issue at hand. Once a factor has triggered the skin it can cause a hypersensitive reaction and show a visible skin condition, usually on the armpits, ears, paws or other more humid area of the body. This reaction releases proteins.

Luckily there are some products available to help the barrier and protect your pets against allergies. One such product is Hills Derm Defence diet. This diet provides a holistic approach to managing allergies, containing clinically proven antioxidants that can help promote healthy skin and coat growth. By promoting healthy skin growth, you can reduce the chances of a compromised barrier in some dogs. When treating atopic dermatitis, it is important to remember there is no permanent cure, and that whatever medication prescribed will be an on-going treatment to help keep them comfortable. Therefore, it is also so important to make sure the medication you choose has minimal, if any, negative side effects over time. Using steroidal medication can have many side effects on your dog, especially on such a long course. Some of these side effects include altered hormone levels, cataracts developing, water retention and muscle wasting just to name a few. Other products help make avoiding steroidal medication much easier. They can target the itch (a protein called cytokines) that is irritating your pooch without those negative side effects. Also biological therapies work with your pets own immune system, providing engineered antibodies to help the body’s natural antibodies. These are specifically designed to target the main protein that sends the ‘itch’ sign to your pets’ brain, giving the skin a chance to heal without being traumatised. If you have concerns about your pets itching or more information on either of these treatments, please give the clinic a call on 95817766 to book an appointment to discuss your pet’s needs.