Seasonal Allergy Dermatitis / Atopy

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Seasonal Allergy Dermatitis/Atopy

Everyone knows someone with hay fever. Airborne pollens, molds, dust particles, etc. are inhaled and soon the sneezing and sniffling begins. A simple way to think of atopy for pets would be simply saying that the airborne allergen is inhaled but instead of sneezing and sniffling, the pet gets itchy skin. Airborne pollens, molds, dust particles etc. gain entry to the skin through a defective skin barrier, and from there their proteins are presented to the immune system. Cells of inflammation migrate back to the skin and soon the itching and scratching begins. The allergens come from the air and environment but the itch is manifested in the skin.

Airborne particles (pollen, dander, etc.) are harmless to someone who is not allergic to them. Allergy develops in individuals who are genetically programmed to do so.

There are, of course, many reasons for pets to itch: parasites, allergy to flea bites, food allergy, secondary infection and the list goes on. But often there is a seasonality to your pets itching that will indicate atopy, and there is also a typical pattern to areas of the body affected.


If you have a dog who suddenly develops a rash or becomes itchy, it is advised to have a check over with a vet, to make a more accurate diagnosis. But for those of you who knows their dog is prone to flare ups, there are some useful things you can do to try and manage their skin, as we enter Spring.


  • Topical bathing will help minimize secondary infections. Shampoos such as Malaseb have antibacterial and antifungal ingredients. For more regular bathing be sure to use a gentle shampoo, such as an oatmeal or Aloe Vera based product.


  • After outdoor running, especially in grass, you can use a wet wipe to wipe down the legs and body and remove gross allergens.


  • Omega 3 fatty acids help keep the skin healthy year round. They act by disrupting the production of inflammatory chemicals within the skin. By using these supplements, it may be possible to postpone the need for steroids or reduce the dose of steroid needed to control symptoms. It takes a good 6 weeks to build up enough omega 3 fatty acids in the body to see a difference.


  • Human antihistamines can be used daily. Please call into the clinic for a handout with the correct dosing of the various products in dogs.


  • Keep an eye on ears, as ear infections can often go unnoticed until well advanced.


  • Control fleas!! Dogs with one allergy type will often be oversensitive to other allergens. A single flea bite can push your well managed atopic skin into treatment needing dermatitis.


Even despite your best efforts, skin will often go beyond the point of control, and a course of antibiotics and/or other medications may be required. We will be happy to make an appointment should this be the case. And we are always happy to discuss your regime for your pet’s skin. 

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