Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis


Atopic dermatitis is chronic and inflammatory Skin condition that commonly affects dogs. She is caused by an allergic Reaction to environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores or caused by certain ingredients in food. Atopic dermatitis can cause significant discomfort and itching in affected dogs.


Genetic predisposition, environmental factors and individual immune reactions play a role in the development of atopic dermatitis.

Certain breeds are genetically prone to allergies and have a higher risk of developing atopic dermatitis. Dogs with a weakened skin barrier are more susceptible to allergens penetrating the skin and triggering an immune reaction.

Environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, and pollution can affect the severity and frequency of flare-ups. Atopic dermatitis may become worse during certain times of the year when specific allergens are more common, such as spring or fall.

Common environmental allergens that can cause atopic dermatitis in dogs include:

• Pollen from grasses, trees or weeds

• House dust mites

• Mold spores found in moist environments

• Flea saliva

• Certain ingredients in foods such as proteins or grains (food allergies can contribute to atopic dermatitis in some cases)

Mehr Informationen

How does this skin condition work?

When a genetically predisposed dog is exposed to certain allergens such as pollen, dust mites or certain foods, the immune system can overreact, especially in dogs with atopic dermatitis. Instead of perceiving these substances as harmless, the immune system misidentifies them as a threat and triggers an allergic reaction. The immune system releases chemical messengers such as histamines, cytokines and leukotrienes, which cause inflammation and itching and lead to the typical symptoms of atopic dermatitis. The intense itching that accompanies these symptoms causes the dog to scratch, lick, or bite the affected areas. Over time, repeated exposure to the allergens and continued scratching and self-trauma lead to chronic inflammation of the skin. This perpetuates the cycle of itching, skin damage and inflammation.

Welche Rassen sind betroffen?

The following breeds tend to have a genetic susceptibility to allergies and have a higher risk of atopic dermatitis:

• Labrador retrievers

• Golden retriever

• German shepherd dog

• Bulldog (English Bulldog, French Bulldog)

• Boxers

• Dalmatians

• West Highland White Terriers

• Shar Pei

• Lhasa Apso

• Shih Tzu

• Pug

• Boston Terriers

• Cocker spaniel

• Irish Setter

• Yorkshire Terriers

However, atopic dermatitis can occur in any breed, including mixed breed dogs.


Common Signs and Symptoms:

• Intense itching that may result in scratching, licking, and biting the affected areas.

• Red, swollen and irritated skin due to the allergic reaction.

• Hair loss due to constant scratching and biting, especially in commonly affected areas.

• Dogs with atopic dermatitis are prone to developing ear infections that can cause discomfort, head shaking, and an unpleasant odor.

• Formation of sores, crusts and secondary bacterial infections on the skin due to scratching and rubbing. The constant scratching and rubbing associated with atopic dermatitis can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections and further worsen the condition.

Diagnose und Behandlung

The diagnostic process:

1. A veterinarian will assess the dog's skin condition, look for specific signs (itching, redness, inflammation), and discuss the dog's medical history.

2. The veterinarian will rule out other possible diseases by conducting tests or examinations for parasites, infections or food allergies, as atopic dermatitis shares symptoms with these diseases.

3. The veterinarian will ask about the dog's exposure to possible allergens and will need information about the onset, duration and progression of symptoms. It is also checked whether the symptoms occur seasonally or all year round.

4. Allergy testing may include intradermal skin testing, in which small amounts of common allergens are injected under the skin to monitor the skin's reaction and identify specific triggers.

5. In some cases, blood tests may be used instead of intradermal skin testing to detect antibodies to certain allergens.

6. If food allergies are suspected, the vet may suggest a trial of putting your dog on a diet with new protein sources to see if symptoms improve. A positive reaction suggests that food allergy is involved in atopic dermatitis.

Treatment for atopic dermatitis aims to relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation. This includes:

• Minimize exposure to specific allergens identified through testing to reduce symptoms. This may include environmental adjustments or dietary changes.

• Medications prescribed by the veterinarian, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, or immunomodulatory medications to relieve itching, reduce inflammation, and treat secondary infections.

• Using shampoos, creams, or sprays with soothing or anti-inflammatory ingredients to relieve itching and moisturize the skin.

• Allergen-specific immunotherapy (allergy shots) to desensitize the dog's immune system to specific allergens over time.