Atopy: Inhalant Allergies in Dogs

Dogs with atopy develop itchy skin.

When your dog is constantly licking, chewing, and biting at his skin, it's a frustrating situation for both of you.

There are many things that can cause a dog's skin to be itchy. One of them is atopy, or an inhaled allergy.

What Is Atopy in Dogs?

Dogs that are allergic to something that they breathe in, such as pollen, often develop itchy skin instead of the itchy, swollen eyes and runny nose that is more common in humans with airborne allergies. This condition is called atopy or atopic dermatitis.

Atopy causes itchy skin, and dogs often lick, chew, or bite at themselves, resulting in skin trauma. Secondary infection of the traumatized areas is common.

Signs of Canine Atopy

Dogs suffering from atopy may show some or all of the following signs:

Causes of Atopy in Dogs

Any airborne environmental allergen can cause canine atopy. Common causes include:

Diagnosis of Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Veterinarians can often diagnosis atopy by discussing the history of the signs with the owner and examining the dog. However, in order to determine the exact allergen(s) bothering the dog, allergy testing must be performed. Techniques for this include skin and serum (blood) testing. A referral to a veterinary dermatologist may be required for this.

There are many things other than atopy that can cause similar signs. Your veterinarian can help rule out other causes, such as fleas, ringworm, food allergy, and mange.

Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs

Treatment of atopy varies depending on the severity of the clinical signs, how long it's been going on, and whether or not allergy testing has been performed. Some of the common treatments are discussed below.

There are possible side effects to all medications, so be sure to talk with your veterinarian to determine what's best for your dog.

You can learn more about scratching dogs here: "Dealing with Canine Scratching and Licking."

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