Itchy skin can cause absolute chaos and really affect your dog's quality of life.
One of the most common and frustrating 'itchy skin' conditions we see in dogs is atopic dermatitis. It is particularly troublesome in spring and summer.
This inflammatory condition is caused by a reaction to allergens in the environment (a bit like the common triggers of asthma and hay fever in humans). Allergens that might cause a problem include: grasses, trees, plant pollen, dust mites, insects, and moulds.
The signs associated with atopic dermatitis generally consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, biting, and licking. They usually appear when your dog is between 1 and 6 years of age.
Common sites your dog may be itchy:
- Ears (recurrent ear infections are common)
- The feet and in between the toes
- The armpits
- The groin and anal glands
- Around the eyes
The itching quickly leads to self-trauma of the skin which causes secondary infections that require medication.
Diagnosis and management of atopic dermatitis relies on a good history of your dog's symptoms and a thorough physical examination. It is essential that all potential parasitic causes and food allergies are ruled out. Your dog may also undergo further allergy testing and these results can be used to formulate a unique de-sensitising allergy vaccine.
The good news is that there are some exciting new immunotherapy drugs available that have minimal side effects, and can greatly improve your dog's comfort and quality of life.