Allergies occur when the body's immune system becomes hyper-reactive to a substance that is normally harmless. Common allergens include:
- Environment: grass, pollen or dust mites
- External Parasites: flea, mosquitoes, ticks
- Food: protein sources
Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD) is an allergy to environmental allergens. It's a common, lifelong disease that affects 10% to 15% of dogs. The human version of CAD is eczema which is often treated with medication and topical therapy.
The main symptom of allergies is skin irritation. Dogs with allergies are itchy and often chew on their feet, rub their faces on the carpet or furniture, or scratch their sides and belly, reddening the skin.
They are also prone to ear infections. Chronic reddened and dirty ears or even repetitive ear infections may be a sign your pet has allergies.
Secondary bacterial infections of the skin are common as scratching and licking damage the skin barrier. That's why it's essential to clean and care for the skin during and between flare-ups.
Your veterinarian may have to run a series of tests to diagnose an allergy. These may included cytology to rule out a secondary infection, food trials to rule out food allergies, and environmental allergy testing to identify what is triggering your dog's allergies. Allergies are frustrating, because they can be hard to diagnose and they can be a life-long problem. In addition to avoiding the allergen (if possible) your veterinarian will treat your dog's allergies with a combination of medication and topical therapy. Dogs with allergies have a defective skin barrier, so it is essential to support and protect the skin by using a dermatopical product.