Skin Allergies (Atopy)

A dog that has allergies most often shows it through skin problems and itching. Allergies may be to a variety of things such as household products, food ingredients, or grasses and pollens. Causes of itchy skin may include bacterial infections mites or fleas, systemic illnesses, or allergies (termed Atopy). Many of these causes can be ruled out during a visit to a veterinarian. Diagnosing allergies means either elimination trials, or direct allergy testing. Although there are blood tests available to rule out allergies, these tests are not specific and false positive results are very common. The most sensitive and specific test for allergies is intradermal skin testing (skin prick test). Treatment of skin allergies may include symptomatic therapy with antihistamines, fatty acids, prednisone, or other medications that modulate the immune system. Although effective in many cases, many animals have unwanted side effects from these medications and directly treating the condition with immunotherapy (hyposensitization or allergy shots) maybe the best choice for many animals.

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