Like many loving pet owners, you might feel surprised to hear your furry friends, who suffer skin problems, are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis. You might not realize the underlying skin problems are caused by airborne or food allergens, which were discussed in our <a a="" previous article, and overlooked the associated symptoms. As time progress, severe skin lesions may be developed and are very difficult to treat, and on top of that, there is no known cure for atopic dermatitis. Such situation will most likely make you feel helpless and anxious, as you do not know what to do to help your atopic housemates feel better.
Although currently there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, you can help prevent or treat the associated allergy symptoms effectively in short term. Here are some recommended preventions by our veterinarian:
- Bath your atopic furry friend more frequently. Bath every 3-7 days using dedicated shampoo for sensitive skin such as Aloveen shampoo or Epi-soothe shampoo. These shampoos contain oatmeal and aloe vera that can help relieve itching.
- Treat your furry friend regularly with a flea product like Frontline flea drops because flea bites can cause allergic skin reaction that will lead to excessive scratching.
- Reduce exposure to food and environmental allergens. Avoid foods with leading allergens. For example, wheat, beef and dairy are common protein allergens for dogs. Reduce household airborne allergens including pollen, mold, dust or dust mites using air filters, activated carbon filters and vacuum cleaners. Use dehumidifier to maintain low humidity at home can help reduce dust and dust mites as well.
- Take oral supplements of fish oil such as Coatex and Allerderm. Containing omega-3, omega-6, DHA, EPA from frozen sea fish like salmon or tuna, the fish oil pills have shown beneficial effects on maintaining healthy fur and reducing skin sensitivity in cats and dogs.
Don’t be surprised to see the skin condition of your furry friends gets worse. Even after prevention, various irritants can still contact and trigger atopic dermatitis. After all, there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, but general treatments for relieving and reducing itching or eliminating secondary skin lesions from excessive itching are available. These two types of itch relief are common clinical treatments, which are outlined as follows:
- Use of steroids can effectively relieve your furry friend from itching and red skin symptoms. However, it can cause greater side effects such as liver and kidney failure or Crushing’s disease development, so it is not recommended for long-term usage but rather for short-term treatment.
- Immunosuppressive drug therapy using Atopica or Phytopica drugs can effectively control 60-75% manifestations of itch (or pruritus) in our furry friends. With no side effects, the drug can be used for long-term treatment and the dosage can be reduced after 4–6 weeks of application.
- Immunotherapy or desensitization treatment is a process of reducing the strength and reaction to a certain allergen in dogs. The therapy involves a series of injections with increasingly larger doses of the allergens that are often determined via blood tests. About 50-75% of pets have shown good response to this clinical treatment with result evident in six to eight months or a year after injection.
Even though there is no clinical method in curing atopic dermatitis, but generally it is a condition that responds well with therapy. With advances in early detection and treatment, many furry friends diagnosed with atopic dermatitis can live long, happy and pain-free. As a caring pet lover, make it a priority to see your veterinarian regularly so that timely and appropriate treatment can be made for your beloved furry friends.