Canine Atopic Dermatitis

4 July 2018 – News

Canine atopic dermatitis (AD) is an allergic skin disease characterized by cutaneous inflammation and pruritus. The condition is a diagnostic challenge: it has a wide range of clinical presentations, these are often similar to other skin conditions and it’s not uncommon for AD to be accompanied by concurrent skin diseases. This article provides practical tips to help you make an accurate diagnosis.

A methodical approach that includes a complete history, a physical examination, complementary tests and evaluating response to treatment is necessary to rule out other skin conditions and obtain a diagnosis. Recommended tests for AD include flea checks, skin scrapings, hair plucking, cytological examinations and ear swabs.

All itchy dogs should start an effective flea control/treatment plan to exclude flea allergy dermatitis and more clues may be provided by paying special attention to the body areas affected by the skin lesions. Simultaneous gastrointestinal signs can point to adverse food reaction and clinicians should then consider a diet /food elimination trial.

If clinical signs are still present and no specific diagnosis has been made, then AD is a likely diagnosis and allergy testing can then be considered. These tests allow us to identify the allergen involved, to possibly implement strategies to avoid it and to produce allergen-specific immunotherapy.

In Hensel P, Santoro D, Favrot C, Hill P, Griffin C. Canine atopic dermatitis: detailed guidelines for diagnosis and allergen identification. BMC Veterinary Research. 2015;11:196. doi:10.1186/s12917-015-0515-5.