Atopy in Dogs
It usually starts out as a seasonal problem before it explodes into a full out attack

Atopy in dogs can never be prevented, but it can be controlled in most cases.

It usually occurs very early in your dog’s life and catching it early will help you control it trough out their lifetime.

It usually starts out as a seasonal disorder, but it will than flourish into a full fledged series of attacks against your dog.

It can cause your dog to chew their feet excessively, rub their face continually, and if becomes severe, they may also start to develop hair loss.


If it does become severe and it is not controlled, your dog will systematically begin to mutilate their own skin which can cause severe infections.

Atopy in dogs is a very itchy skin condition that is second only to flea dermatitis in skin diseases.

However, it is not a single disease or condition and it does not have a common cause.

It is a group of disorders and it is believed to be an inherited condition.

However, your dog must have contact with whatever allergen is causing this hypersensitivity to suddenly flare up.

What makes Atopy in dogs so very difficult to control is the fact that it is generally caused by an allergen that your dog’s breaths.

In some cases, however, it may be triggered by it simply coming into contact with their skin.

For this reason, it is often referred to as the canine version of hay fever.

It is commonly confused with a food allergy, but it is very different as it generally starts to affect your dog between the ages of one to four years old.

It will in most all cases start out with only seasonal sensitivity, but as your dog ages, it increases into a year around condition.

However, once it does trigger to a year round condition, the number of items your dog is sensitive to seems to increase and it is almost impossible to isolate the cause.

Food allergies, conversely, can attack your dog at any time and dos not show the same pattern of symptoms and can usually be isolated.

Atopy in dogsThere are several potenial causes


Atopy in dogs is contracted through allergen transmission in the air, and it is triggered via the respiratory tract or when this allergic agent makes contact with their skin.

The symptoms will almost always start in the feet and they will become very irritated and turn a fiery red coloration.

Once this occurs, your dog will also start to rub their faces on the carpet or an object like a couch.

It is normal for all dogs to do this occasionally, but if it is atopy, it will soon become both excessive and extreme.

The next set of symptoms will be with your dog’s ears.

The wax producing glands in their ears will be stimulated by their immune system as a reaction of the atopy, and it will overproduce wax which will than start to cause ear infections.

This can be a very dangerous situation for your dog, as bacteria and yeast will than start to form as a result of this excessive wax buildup.

However, the symptoms are still just beginning, as once the rubbing on the carpet or the couch no longer eases the itching, your dog starts to scratch and actually bite themselves.

Once they start to bite, they will generally start to lose their hair. If the hypersensitivity becomes severe, the skin under attack will become very dry, crusty, or oily in some cases.

All of these leave your dog wide open for bacterial infections to develop as the result of this self-mutilation.


Atopy in dogs is caused by allergens, and it is helpful to understand what happens to your pet as their body tries to defend against this invasion.

The immune system in your dog produces a protein called IgE.

This protein, once produced, attaches itself to tissue mast cells in your dog that are located throughout their skin.

Once attached, it causes several irritating chemicals to be released, and the most potent is histamine.

Under normal circumstances, a small release is not a problem, but atopy is not normal, and the release is much stronger which starts the itching.

The agents that are causing your dog’s immune system to over react are referred to as allergens.

These allergens may come from tress, grass, pollen's or from weeds. Flea bites, or from house dust and dust mites may also be the cause.

However, Atopy in dogs may also come from fabrics such as wool, nylon or cotton, as well as rubber or plastic materials.

Although never fully confirmed, there is speculation that rubber or plastic feeding dishes may be one of the largest single causes of atopy as your dog is constantly in contact with these substances.

This is one of the major reasons that a metal feeding dish is almost always recommended.


Atopy in dogs has no one single effective treatment, simply because you may never know what is actually causing this hypersensitivity.

Your dog’s immune system tries to adapt, but it is always playing catch up.

As a result, they age; they become affected by allergens that never used to bother them.

The first form of treatment will always come in the form of antihistamines, simply because they can counter the effect form the histamine release.

Antihistamines are very effective against atopy in cats, but it is estimated that it only successfully treats about 30 percent of dogs with this condition.

Omega 3 fatty acids has been used for years for improving the quality of your dog’s hair coat, but there is a lot of emerging research that indicates it is also very helpful in slowing and controlling atopy.

It is very effective in reducing the amount of histamine that is released as well as several other chemicals.

It may take several weeks before you notice any real improvement, but it is also much safer as it has virtually no side effects.

Topical treatments such as medicated shampoos are also very effective.

If your dog does not respond to any treatment after a period of four to five months, immunotherapy is used.

This will require extensive skin testing and then regular injections, but it does have a very high success rate.

However, much like allergy shots with people, it is usually required for the rest of your dog’s life.


Atopy in dogs can be extremely frustrating, simply because you may never have any idea what the actually cause may be.

However, avoiding all the obvious causes and using Omega 3 fatty acid usually works with most dogs.

But just like us, each dogs system is totally different and immunotherapy may have to be utilized if nothing else works.

Sources of Treatments for Atopy in Dogs

Dog Vitamin Store

Dog Skin Health