Canine Atopic Dermatitis

April 28, 2017 | We Care | Tips from Jane Meggitt
Your beloved dog can’t stop scratching and is absolutely miserable. You know he doesn’t have fleas, so what’s wrong? Like 15 percent of all canines, he’s probably suffering from atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is an allergic reaction, so if you discover the trigger and eliminate it, you can manage your dog’s skin problem. Common triggers include parasites, certain foods and pollen. Dogs with atopic dermatitis not only scratch incessantly, but the constant itching and licking causes secondary issues.

These include infections and skin thickening. The initial symptoms generally appear in dogs between the ages of 1 and 3. While younger animals may start scratching due to atopic dermatitis, they usually need some exposure to the triggering allergen before the severe scratching starts.

“…they usually need some exposure to the triggering allergen before the severe scratching starts.”

Breed Predisposition. While atopic dermatitis occurs in many dogs, it’s especially prevalent in certain breeds, a genetic predisposition. Affected breeds include:

  • Dalmatians
  • English bulldogs
  • German shepherds
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Shar Peis
  • West Highland whiter terriers.

Atopic Dermatitis Treatment. Your vet conducts allergy tests on your dog to identify the culprits, which often consists of more than element. Treatment includes dietary changes, fatty acid supplementation, topical medications, antibiotics for infection and steroids to reduce itching. If your dog is small or medium-sized, your vet might recommend putting a tight tee shirt on your pet in conjunction with treatment to help control the constant itching.

Lifelong Management. Atopic dermatitis isn’t curable, but it is manageable. It may take a while to find the right treatment to keep this skin condition at bay, but don’t give up hope. You may need to try different therapies, but odds are you will find one that makes a difference. Your dog is depending on you.

Photo credit krissen via CC BY-NC-ND

If you enjoyed this post, you should read “My Dog, My Therapy” here.

Does your dog itch all the time? Share your remedy in the comments!

Leave a comment!


  • Kate / April 28, 2017

    We love Salmon Oil with kibble and extra virgin coconut oil treats. Definitely helps with dry skin and irritation!

    • admin / April 29, 2017

      That’s a smart solution! I’ll try that out for my own itchy pup, Barnaby. Thanks for sharing!

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