Atopic Dermatitis- Allergic Skin Disease, is relatively common in dogs and cats. Itching is one of the most common reasons for a pet to be brought into the vet and can be caused by a number of factors.
Atopic dermatitis can affect any area of the body and different breeds may be more prone to different areas being affected. Common areas of the body that animals may focus on and suggest an underlying allergy are:
- Anal glands/backside.
How to tell if an animals behaviour is excessive?
Owners are often confused why vets are obsessed with flea treatment when no fleas are visible. Vets worry for a few reasons:
- In allergic animals that have blood tests to identify what they are allergic to flea saliva is normally implicated in almost ALL animals! This means that only a few flea bites can potentially start a marked allergic response in these animals.
- We find fleas on untreated pets regularly. Unfortunately every animal will pick up a flea on a regular basis from the environment. Remember not seeing a flea is not the same as the animal never having a flea.
- 95% of the flea population at any one time is in the environment. An absence of fleas on a visual check doesn’t mean the animal won’t pick up fleas on its daily walks which could flare up the allergy. This is why regardless of any other thing our animals are allergic to vets urge strict flea control (monthly) with a product that kills the fleas as quick as possible (within 8 hours of jumping on the animal) to limit bites and flare ups.
- It is much cheaper to regularly treat for fleas than to repeatedly treat skin irritation, infection and discomfort caused by fleas flaring up allergies.
- Atopic dermatitis can be managed like other allergies e.g. hayfever but it is not possible to cure the condition.
- Treatment focuses on identifying the cause and avoiding it (such as with food allergies).
- When avoidance is not possible (pollen, dust mite faeces) controlling the itch with medication is required. This may be seasonally or permanently depending on the trigger allergen.
- Controlling fleas on the animal and in the house.
- Antibiotics are sometimes needed to control skin infection but do not treat the underlying allergy in any way.