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Atopic Dermatits
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Why Should I Bring my Pet to Willows for Atopic Dermatitis?

Willows is one of Europe’s leading small animal referral centres. Our state-of-the-art hospital is led by internationally renowned Specialists who are committed to providing the highest standards of veterinary care.

Specialist Dermatologist, Jon Hardy has extensive experience of managing cases of atopic dermatitis and access to intradermal allergy testing is available at Willows to allow full investigation and treatment of patients suffering from this condition.
willows-cardiology-icon

Why Should I Bring my Pet to Willows for Atopic Dermatitis?

Willows is one of Europe’s leading small animal referral centres. Our state-of-the-art hospital is led by internationally renowned Specialists who are committed to providing the highest standards of veterinary care.

Specialist Dermatologist, Jon Hardy has extensive experience of managing cases of atopic dermatitis and access to intradermal allergy testing is available at Willows to allow full investigation and treatment of patients suffering from this condition.

What is Atopic Dermatitis?
What Causes Atopic Dermatitis?
Allergic diseases result when the body’s immune system, reacts to harmless substances that the majority of the population tolerate without problems. In the case of atopic dermatitis, an altered skin barrier together with an inappropriate immune response to environmental substances results in inflammation and skin disease. The equivalent disease in humans is called atopic eczema, and this is relatively common in the western World. Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common allergic skin diseases in dogs and cats.
The most common substances triggering allergic reactions are microscopic house dust and storage mites. These are tiny mites invisible to the naked eye that live in the home in places such as clothes, furniture and carpets. These mites do not normally cause a problem, however animals with atopic dermatitis develop an allergic reaction to them. Atopic dermatitis can also result from reactions to seasonal substances such as grass, weed or tree pollens. These reactions often result in skin disease that is worst during the spring/summer months.
What is Atopic Dermatitis?
What Causes Atopic Dermatitis?
Allergic diseases result when the body’s immune system, reacts to harmless substances that the majority of the population tolerate without problems. In the case of atopic dermatitis, an altered skin barrier together with an inappropriate immune response to environmental substances results in inflammation and skin disease. The equivalent disease in humans is called atopic eczema, and this is relatively common in the western World. Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common allergic skin diseases in dogs and cats.
The most common substances triggering allergic reactions are microscopic house dust and storage mites. These are tiny mites invisible to the naked eye that live in the home in places such as clothes, furniture and carpets. These mites do not normally cause a problem, however animals with atopic dermatitis develop an allergic reaction to them. Atopic dermatitis can also result from reactions to seasonal substances such as grass, weed or tree pollens. These reactions often result in skin disease that is worst during the spring/summer months.
What is Atopic Dermatitis?
Allergic diseases result when the body’s immune system, reacts to harmless substances that the majority of the population tolerate without problems. In the case of atopic dermatitis, an altered skin barrier together with an inappropriate immune response to environmental substances results in inflammation and skin disease. The equivalent disease in humans is called atopic eczema, and this is relatively common in the western World. Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common allergic skin diseases in dogs and cats.
What Causes Atopic Dermatitis?
The most common substances triggering allergic reactions are microscopic house dust and storage mites. These are tiny mites invisible to the naked eye that live in the home in places such as clothes, furniture and carpets. These mites do not normally cause a problem, however animals with atopic dermatitis develop an allergic reaction to them. Atopic dermatitis can also result from reactions to seasonal substances such as grass, weed or tree pollens. These reactions often result in skin disease that is worst during the spring/summer months.

What are the Signs of Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is hereditary, and there are certain breeds of dog such as West Highland White Terriers, Labradors, Chinese Shar peis and Springer Spaniels that are more prone to developing the disease. Skin disease usually presents with itching, and commonly affects the face, ears, feet, armpits and stomach. Recurrent ear infections are also very common, and some dogs with atopic dermatitis only have ear disease (Figure 1). The inflammation within the skin causes redness, rashes, increased pigmentation (darkening of the skin) and recurrent infections. Skin disease usually develops between the ages of six months and three years.

In some affected animals, the allergic reaction can also cause eye problems including conjunctivitis or respiratory diseases such as sneezing. In other respects, affected animals remain healthy.

What are the Signs of Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is hereditary, and there are certain breeds of dog such as West Highland White Terriers, Labradors, Chinese Shar peis and Springer Spaniels that are more prone to developing the disease. Skin disease usually presents with itching, and commonly affects the face, ears, feet, armpits and stomach. Recurrent ear infections are also very common, and some dogs with atopic dermatitis only have ear disease (Figure 1). The inflammation within the skin causes redness, rashes, increased pigmentation (darkening of the skin) and recurrent infections. Skin disease usually develops between the ages of six months and three years.

In some affected animals, the allergic reaction can also cause eye problems including conjunctivitis or respiratory diseases such as sneezing. In other respects, affected animals remain healthy.
What Treatments are Available for Atopic Dermatitis?
Much like the human allergic diseases of hay fever, eczema and asthma, atopic dermatitis in animals cannot be cured. Patients with this disease have it for the duration of their lives and skin disease has to be managed in the long term.

Treatments for atopic dermatitis aim to reduce the over-active immune system and also improve the barrier of the skin to prevent further penetration of the allergens. There are many different treatments and combinations of treatments, all with their own advantages and disadvantages, and their use can be discussed in detail during your pet’s consultation.

Some dogs and cats with atopic dermatitis can also benefit from a treatment called immunotherapy, otherwise known as a desensitising vaccine. This is a long term treatment option usually given by injection over a period of nine months to one year with the aim of reducing the over-active immune response. Injections are given under the skin and begin with intervals of two weeks before being reduced to monthly injections. To determine this treatment, allergy testing must be performed. This is in the form of an intradermal allergy test (Figure 2) or a blood test to detect circulating levels of antibodies. The intradermal test is performed under light sedation and involves injecting a panel of allergens into the skin to see if a reaction occurs. Both this and the blood test aim to identify possible allergens which can then be used to formulate immunotherapy for the patient. Whilst immunotherapy is not effective in all animals, it can provide a drug-free way of controlling atopic dermatitis with minimal side effects.
What Treatments are Available for Atopic Dermatitis?
Much like the human allergic diseases of hay fever, eczema and asthma, atopic dermatitis in animals cannot be cured. Patients with this disease have it for the duration of their lives and skin disease has to be managed in the long term.

Treatments for atopic dermatitis aim to reduce the over-active immune system and also improve the barrier of the skin to prevent further penetration of the allergens. There are many different treatments and combinations of treatments, all with their own advantages and disadvantages, and their use can be discussed in detail during your pet’s consultation.

Some dogs and cats with atopic dermatitis can also benefit from a treatment called immunotherapy, otherwise known as a desensitising vaccine. This is a long term treatment option usually given by injection over a period of nine months to one year with the aim of reducing the over-active immune response. Injections are given under the skin and begin with intervals of two weeks before being reduced to monthly injections. To determine this treatment, allergy testing must be performed. This is in the form of an intradermal allergy test (Figure 2) or a blood test to detect circulating levels of antibodies. The intradermal test is performed under light sedation and involves injecting a panel of allergens into the skin to see if a reaction occurs. Both this and the blood test aim to identify possible allergens which can then be used to formulate immunotherapy for the patient. Whilst immunotherapy is not effective in all animals, it can provide a drug-free way of controlling atopic dermatitis with minimal side effects.
How is Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosed?
What Can I Expect if my Pet is Treated for Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis can be diagnosed following a thorough evaluation of the patient’s history, assessment of the pet’s clinical signs and elimination of other similar diseases. Unfortunately, there is no single diagnostic test that definitively diagnoses the condition.
In the vast majority of cases, atopic dermatitis can be controlled very well, and pets can lead a normal and healthy life. As atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition, periodic re-examinations with a Specialist Dermatologist throughout the animal’s life are recommended to maintain close control over the disease and its clinical signs.
How is Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosed?
What Can I Expect if my Pet is Treated for Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis can be diagnosed following a thorough evaluation of the patient’s history, assessment of the pet’s clinical signs and elimination of other similar diseases. Unfortunately, there is no single diagnostic test that definitively diagnoses the condition.
In the vast majority of cases, atopic dermatitis can be controlled very well, and pets can lead a normal and healthy life. As atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition, periodic re-examinations with a Specialist Dermatologist throughout the animal’s life are recommended to maintain close control over the disease and its clinical signs.
How is Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosed?
Atopic dermatitis can be diagnosed following a thorough evaluation of the patient’s history, assessment of the pet’s clinical signs and elimination of other similar diseases. Unfortunately, there is no single diagnostic test that definitively diagnoses the condition.
What Can I Expect if my Pet is Treated for Atopic Dermatitis?
In the vast majority of cases, atopic dermatitis can be controlled very well, and pets can lead a normal and healthy life. As atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition, periodic re-examinations with a Specialist Dermatologist throughout the animal’s life are recommended to maintain close control over the disease and its clinical signs.