Allergic Dermatitis

What is allergic dermatitis?

Allergic dermatitis is a common yet often misunderstood condition in our pets. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘summer itch’, ‘summer eczema’, ‘hot spots’, or ‘red itch’. Skin conditions are among the hardest to diagnose as the causes are vast and varied.

As the name implies, it is a skin condition caused by an allergy. Most of the damage seen on the skin is associated with your pet scratching and itching the irritated area. Treating the cause will relieve the irritation.

The disease tends to be more prevalent in the warmer months due to pollens, although some allergies can persist into Winter.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing the cause of the allergy can sometimes be straightforward. However, a lengthy process of elimination is usually the only way to determine the cause. Several skin tests are available now through specialist veterinarians. A history of your pet’s health, environment, and lifestyle will help in determining the cause of the irritation. You will be asked about flea control, diet, bedding, laundry liquids used to wash bedding, shampoos, or any recent changes in your pet’s routine. Often there may be more than one cause of the skin problem, so it is important to be as thorough as possible.

Some of the more common reasons are fleas, types of food, washing products, bedding materials, household floor coverings, pollens, and other airborne particles, or even the type of grass your dog rolls on.

Once the source of the irritation has been discovered, appropriate treatment can commence. It may be fairly easy, or it can be a slow process requiring careful management.

Treatment

Short-term relief through injections and tablets can allow the skin to return to normal while the cause of the allergy is being brought under control. Hopefully, once this control has been achieved and maintained, these drugs can be withdrawn. The medications commonly used are steroids and antihistamines. In some instances, it is not possible to physically separate the pet from the source of the problem. In such cases, it may be necessary to undergo desensitisation procedures.

Wherever possible, the cause of the allergy should be determined before resorting to the continued use of symptomatic treatments.

It is vitally important that skin disease is treated as early as possible. Long-term skin damage will make treatment more difficult. Take your pet to your nearest Greencross Vets to begin the diagnosis process, and restore your pet’s skin to a healthy condition.