What is Atopy?
As a result of a sensitivity to allergens in the environment, dogs will have allergic reactions that primarily cause significant itchiness and may effect the eyes, ears, etc. It is also know as Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis.
How does my pet get Atopy?
This is probably an inherited condition that is impacted by a variety of environmental factors. The breeds with a increased pre-disposition are noted below.
How do I know if my dog has Atopy?
The classic dog with atopy is itchy in a seasonal fashion. The primary areas of itchiness are: between the toes, the face/muzzle, groin, and armpit. Sneezing may or may not present. There is commonly recurrent bacterial skin infections and there may also be recurrent ear infections. The damage to the skin that is noted is secondary to the chewing or scratching. Other areas impacted: around the eyes, ear flaps, ear canals. If you have an itchy dog, your veterinarian will work with you to determine if it is atopy, flea allergy, or food allergy. Diagnosis will include a thorough physical examination and history. Tests of the skin to look for fleas, mites, or other causes will usually be performed. Confirmation of atopy may require specific allergy testing, either a blood test or a so-called ‘intra-dermal skin test’.
What can I do about Atopy?
Atopy is rarely curable but may be controlled medically. The uses of medications to decrease itchiness including anti-histamines, corticosteroids, or fatty acids are common. Antibiotics or anti-fungals may be needed to attack secondary infections. Desensitization, using low levels of the allergens to stimulate the immune system, is effective in some cases. Bathing with medicated shampoos and conditioners may also help. Of course, avoiding the identified allergens is also helpful.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Atopy?
With the likely hereditary nature of atopy, there is little that con be done to prevent it. However, once identified, avoiding the inciting causes is imperative.
Are there certain breeds that get Atopy more often?
Beagles, Boston terriers, Cairn terriers, Chinese Shar Peis, Dalmatians, English bulldogs, English setters, Golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Lhasa apsos, miniature schnauzers, Scottish terriers, West Highland white terriers, wirehaired fox terriers, are some examples of the breeds with a higher likelihood of atopy.