Atopic dermatitis in dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

by Anja S. on October 12, 2019

We all know that dogs can suffer from allergies as we do. They are usually triggered by pollen, dust, insect bites,  and allergens found in food. Atopic dermatitis in dogs is one of the worst occurrences of an untreated allergy. Since canines are the only animals that can naturally develop skin lesions of atopic dermatitis, we should think about how to help our four-legged friends on time.

What is atopic dermatitis in dogs?

Atopic dermatitis in dogs presents a skin issue that has been caused by an allergy, genetics, and a dog’s weak immune system. Many studies claim that a dog’s health history is the main reason for developing canine atopy. Therefore, if a puppy’s parents suffer from allergies, it’s very likely that the litter will become affected by the same health issue.

Atopic dermatitis is a very unpleasant condition with a tendency to grow into a severe bacterial infection if left untreated. It occurs due to a dog’s allergic reaction to dust, storage mites, pollen, chemicals, and food ingredients.   

The first signs of atopic dermatitis in dogs usually occur between the third month and sixth year of age. However, in the first two years of life, the symptoms can be barely visible. The good news is that this skin disease can be healed but only with the owner’s persistence and will to help the dog.

Dogs with folds such as Shar-Pei, French bulldogs, and other mastiff and bulldog breeds are on a higher tendency to suffer from this condition. It’s because their folds are susceptible to collect dirt and other environmental allergens. Therefore, owners of these breeds need to pay special attention to cleaning their folds.

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis

The symptoms of canine atopy are easy to spot if you own a short-haired dog breed. Dogs with longer hair can hide the irritation beneath the coat, so the owners, unfortunately, place it when it becomes severe. Symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs include itchy skin, red and hot spots, lesions, excessive licking body parts, and a dog’s inability to settle down. Since it’s incredibly unpleasant, a dog goes through severe annealing of the affected skin. The most commonly affected areas on a dog’s body are belly, ears, groin, wrists, muzzle, ankles, paws, arms and legs, and the place around the eyes.

Here is how atopic dermatitis in dogs looks through stages:

  1. Red skin that is followed by itchiness
  2. A dog starts to lick the skin to release the allergens
  3. The redness of the skin is getting worse, and the affected spots start to release watery discharge (lymph)
  4. The dog begins to lose hair, and the irritated skin starts to bleed
  5. Besides, your pooch can develop a bacterial infection, the affected spots become grey, hairless, and the skin begins to peel and cracks. As you can guess, the cracked skin starts to bleed and becomes susceptible to bacteria.

Treatment of atopic dermatitis in dogs

  1. Coconut oil as one of the best natural remedies

    If you are searching for the best natural treatment for dogs with atopic dermatitis, virgin coconut oil has shown as one of the best solutions for itchy skin. You can apply it directly on your furry friend’s inflamed spot to help him release discomfort. On the other hand, Coconut oil is also famous for its antibacterial effect and healing properties.

  2. Marigold oil and cream

    Marigold is one of the best herbs for treating eczema. It not only relieves the itchiness but also helps in healing wounds, ulcers, and other types of rashes. To get the best effect, it’s advisable to ask your vet to prescribe you a cream with both emollients and marigold. Emollients provide unnecessary lipids, while marigold serves to soothe and heal the red spots.

  3. Chamomile cream, oil, and baths

    Besides you can bathe your pooch with chamomile tea, you can also apply oil and cream of atopic spots on the skin. Chamomile is famous in traditional medicine for treating inflammation-related conditions. It successfully treats eczema, ulcers, lesions, and other skin issues. Our Flora 4 Pets Skin healing oil with marigold and chamomile presents a perfect blend of natural ingredients that can be used for treating atopic dermatitis in dogs.
    dog skin healing oil, oil for treating atopic dermatitis in dogs

  4. Antihistamines therapy

    Taking oral antihistaminic treatment can help a lot in treating atopic dermatitis. It works by blocking the releasing of histamine that is involved in humans’ and animals’ local immune responses. The therapy may last up to several months; however, at the same time a dog owner should work on building a dog’s immune system.

  5. Building the dog’s immune system

    Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty oils provenly help in healing and improving the skin. Therefore, feeding a dog with fish will do the magic. Other essential ingredients that slow the aging process of the skin and boost the immune system are the antioxidants.  They not only reduce the inflammation of the skin, but they also improve your dog’s joint health.

  6. Creams and ointments for treating canine atopy

    Since canine atopy isn’t a condition that you should take for granted, our advice is to ask a vet to prescribe a specially made corticosteroid cream for your four-legged friend. Corticosteroids are one of the best remedies for treating a different kind of eczema. However, they shouldn’t be used for an extended period since they can weaken the skin.

How to prevent atopic dermatitis in dogs?

  1. Wear protective clothes

    Wearing protective clothes made of bio cotton will surely help a lot your pooch not to catch different environmental allergens on his skin. Choosing the fabric is of high importance since synthetic materials can only worsen the problems. We advise you to avoid buying clothes made of wool and polyester because they will only improve itchiness.

  2. Wear protective shoes

    We all know that dogs don’t get thrilled by wearing boots. However, they’ll prevent them from developing allergic reactions on paws. Dog booties present an excellent solution for keeping your dog’s paws free of environmental allergens such as pollen, dust, and mites.

  3. Clean your dog’s folds

    In case you own a dog breed with folds, our advice is to regularly clean them with wet baby wipes or a damp cloth. In that way, you’ll pick up the excess moisture and prevent it from developing a bacterial infection. Another useful tip is to put corn starch in each fold to avoid irritations.

  4. Use the appropriate shampoo

    To prevent a dog from suffering from itchy skin, you should not use human shampoos. Dog shampoos have different pH value and are specially made to suit their skin type. In case your dog suffers from canine atopy, it’s best to choose the one with natural ingredients that will relieve itching and dry skin.
    bathing dog with atopic dermatitis