Atopy in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment Understanding Your Dog's Allergies Will Lead to More Effective Treatments

Atopy in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Atopic dermatitis can be a frustrating problem for dogs and their owners, but with the right diagnosis and treatment plan, most cases are manageable. The key is to take the condition seriously, begin treatment early and stick with it.

Atopy is a condition that causes allergic reactions in dogs. Symptoms of atopy include itchy skin, dry coat, and possibly ear infections. The only way to diagnose atopy is by ruling out other possible causes of these symptoms.

Atopy can be treated with steroids, antihistamines, and allergy shots. If your dog has been diagnosed with atopy and you're wondering how to provide the best treatment for them, then this article is for you.

What Is Atopy?

Atopy is an allergy that causes your dog's immune system to react to something it shouldn't be allergic to, such as dust mites or pollen. Your dog's immune system overreacts and causes symptoms of an allergy, like red, itchy skin, hair loss, and loss of appetite.

Many dogs will eventually develop atopic dermatitis when they're older, usually after two or three years old but sometimes earlier. The good news is that once you know what's causing your dog's atopy, you can start treating the condition by adjusting their diet and environment accordingly.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Atopy?

  • Skin irritation

  • Itchy skin

  • Scratching or licking paws, ears, tail, and other areas

If your dog has any of these symptoms, you must take him to the vet as soon as possible. Even if it's just a tiny rash that doesn't seem like much at first glance, it could be the beginning of something more severe and difficult to treat.

The longer you wait to see a vet when your dog has an allergy problem, the more likely it will suffer from severe itching and other unpleasant side effects.

What Causes Dog Allergies?

The most common cause of dog allergies is flea saliva, which causes an allergic reaction in the dog's skin. When a dog with flea allergies bites or scratches his or her skin due to itching, it can spread the allergen throughout the body and cause further problems. Allergy medicine for dogs can mitigate this problem.

Food allergies can also cause allergies. Many dogs can't tolerate the proteins found in beef, chicken, or dairy products. Another thing that can cause dog allergies is pollen from trees or grasses outside during seasonal changes when these plants bloom.

How Can You Test for Dog Allergies?

Skin testing for dog allergies is similar to the process used for humans. A small amount of allergen is placed on your dog's skin and then observed for reactions. The test can be performed on any part of your dog's body, including the back or belly. A reaction will be visible as welts or red bumps if a reaction occurs.

If you'd like to have your dog tested but don't want to put him through skin testing, you can opt for RAST testing, which only requires a single blood sample.

How Is Atopy Treated in Dogs?

Treatment of atopy in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the condition and how long it has been present. The first step is determining what allergens are triggering your dog's symptoms based on their lifestyle, environment, diet, and overall health. Once you've done this, you can seek out treatment options appropriate for your pet's specific needs.

The most common type of treatment involves medications that reduce inflammation by blocking inflammatory mediators such as histamine, leukotrienes, or cytokines. Examples include Hydroxyzine for dogs, an antihistamine, and corticosteroids like Dexamethasone.

Your vet can also prescribe Diphenhydramine for dogs, which can help treat allergy symptoms and insect bites-related itching. These drugs are often given daily. However, they may be ineffective or only partially effective at reducing symptoms in some cases due to poor absorption into the bloodstream or due to tolerance developing over time with continued use.

Other medications include immunosuppressants like cyclosporine A, such as Atopica, or methotrexate, such as Apoquel, which prevent specific immune cells from working properly but have side effects including increased risk for infections, so should only be used under strict supervision by a veterinarian familiar with their use.

Allergen-specific immunotherapy has also been proven to be effective in more than half of atopic cases. A recent study shows that a diet fortified in antioxidants, polyphenols, and omega-3 fatty acids can improve skin health and reduce inflammation in atopic dermatitis.


Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand atopy in dogs. If your dog is struggling with allergy symptoms, it is recommended that you take them to see their veterinarian for a checkup. Diagnosis and treatment are essential for treating your dog's allergies and getting them back on the road to health.

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