What is it?

Atopy is a hypersensitivity reaction of the skin to allergens inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Dogs of any ages can acquire atopy; however, it most commonly starts from age 1-3 years. Symptoms begin with itchy red skin, which may be seasonal or non-seasonal. Pets usually lick their feet, armpits, or groin areas. Sometimes they rub their face, eyes, and ears on things. Self-trauma often causes secondary skin lesions such as scaling, hair loss, brown saliva staining, crusts or darkening of the skin. Secondary infections of the skin and ears due to yeast and/or bacteria are common.

Diagnosis A blood sample is drawn and sent to the lab for analysis.
Treatment Reduce exposure to the allergen. Use an air purifier. Immunotherapy (allergen) can be given by the owners in severe cases. Antihistamines such as Benedryl can be given. Anti-itch shampoos can be used. Sometimes cortisones are given (injections, topical or pills). This gives fast relief but does have side effects such as increased drinking and urinating. Lastly, secondary yeast or bacterial infections are treated with antifungals or antibiotics as necessary.
Is It Curable? No. Lifelong treatment is needed for most dogs.