Learn About Atopy in Dogs
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In this pet care video, Dr. Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD, discusses Atopy in dogs, including clinical signs, allergies, skin infections and treatment options.


Dr. Mike: Hello, I'm Dr. Mike. Does your dog lick his or her feet, get host spots or rashes on their skin? This maybe signs of seasonal or environmental allergies, a condition called Atopy. Like people, animals can develop allergies to their environment however, Atopian dogs usually results in cutaneous or skin irritations. Today, we’re going to meet with Dr. Wayne Rosenkrantz who is board certified in Animal Dermatology. Dr. Wayne: Atopic Disease or Atopic Dermatitis or Atopy are all terms that basically indicate a genetic tendency to become sensitized to environmental allergens. So, some of the more common things that animals can develop allergies too are things like the common house dust mite or various trees, grasses, weeds, a variety of different pollens. And these are some of the more common things that we would you know identify or associate. There needs to be some genetic predisposition so when you look at Atopy or Atopic Disease in specific breeds of dogs, there is definitely—of the disease in certain breeds over others so that genetic predisposition tends to manifest in certain breeds of dogs. The clinical signs of Atopy are variable and sometimes that can be limited to just one part of the body or it can become more generalized particularly as the disease progresses as the pet ages. Some of the key areas for Atopic Dermatitis for the owner to be aware off would be ear infections, face rubbing, paw chewing, recurrent infections anywhere on the body that’s associated with itching and scratching and rubbing. As far as secondary complications from allergies, the most common secondary complications are skin infections. And this can involve bacterial infections as well as yeast infections. The bacterial infections can be variable but we do see staff infections in dogs, a large percentage of this are not the methyl-silane resistant type infections although in occasion that was kind of occur. These are not typically contagious to people as a rule. The yeast infections that dogs get with Atopic Dermatitis can be particularly problematic because yeast infections just like when they occur in humans can be particularly very itchy. And this can complicate the underlying allergy disease tremendously by accelerating or increasing the itch symptoms. The yeast infections in dogs have a tendency to affect skin fold locations, ears, paws, neck folds, arm pits, groin. Those are the areas that are most commonly affected. If an owner is concerned that their pet has allergies the first thing they should obviously do is see their veterinarian and discuss the symptoms that their pet is exhibiting. And veterinarians will generally be able to decipher and rate different types of itchy skin diseases based on the history and the physical pattern or distribution that is present. So, veterinary attention is probably the most important first and then discussing the options based on that pets particular symptoms with the veterinarian would be the next step. So, when we are diagnosing Atopic Dermatitis on a dog the whole mark of the diagnosis is actually made based on history and physical findings in ruling out other differential diagnosis. So, this is important that veterinarians check for parasites and they rule out parasites and they treat infection or maybe it will put your dog through a food trial which could mimic Atopic Dermatitis as well. So, once your veterinarian is convinced that we’re dealing with Atopic dermatitis and we've ruled out the other differentials to determine which items to desensitize you pet too, that could be known to either an intradermal skin test which generally is going to require a referral to a specialist such as my self or they can run a blood or in vitro allergy test that can be sent to an outside laboratory. Dr. Mike: If you recognize the clinical signs described, you should contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will perform specific test to determine if your pet maybe suffering from Atopy. I hope this information was helpful and thanks for watching.