Airedale skin problems

airedale skin problems

This is from the 2003 AVMA Convention:

Atopic dermatitis (itchy, inflamed skin caused by an abnormal immune system response to certain inhaled substances such as dust, molds, etc.) is a very common condition in dogs seen by veterinarians. Substances which trigger an allergic reaction are called allergens.

Pollens are important allergens in dogs. The biggest culprits are pollens that are light and easily airborne, such as those from weeds, grasses, or trees. In contrast, many flowering plants (for example roses) have heavy, sticky pollen that is not easily airborne, and does not cause much of a problem as an allergen. Dust mites are another significant allergen in dogs, and molds contribute to allergies as well.

Substances which do NOT appear to be common allergens in dogs include feathers, wool, tobacco, furniture stuffing, lawn fertilizer, synthetic rug fibers, most ornamental plants, and most house plants.

Diagnosing the allergy source

There are several other causes for itchy, inflamed skin besides inhalant allergies. These include:

Food allergy

Flea allergy

Skin mites (Scabies, Cheyletiella)

Bacterial infection

Yeast infection

Hormonal problems - Hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) or Cushing's disease could be an underlying cause of your dog's scratching.

Stress - Dogs may constantly lick their paws due to stress. The stress may be due to a change such as a move, a new family member or a different daily routine.

May perform skin scrapings to help rule out skin mites

May perform skin cytology to find bacteria and yeast

Recommend flea control if fleas are seen or suspected

Recommend a hypoallergenic diet trial

It will be important for you to give your veterinarian a good history regarding your dog's itchy skin:

When did the problem start?

Has it gotten worse since then, or is it staying the same?

Is it seasonal or year-round?

Are just a few areas itchy, or is it the whole body?

Are your dog's ears also itchy and inflamed?

Are you noticing an odor to your dog's skin or ears?

Treatment methods for allergies

If other causes have been ruled out and your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with atopic dermatitis, several things may be tried to make your dog more comfortable. Although avoiding all allergens is impossible and impractical, making a few changes may help somewhat. Some recommended changes include:

Pets who have pollen allergies can be kept indoors more, especially in the early morning and at dusk, when most plants pollinate.

For pets with dust mite allergies, it may help to wash bedding frequently in hot water, use special covers for pillows or mattresses, and use carpet products that kill dust mites.

Because pets with inhalant allergies may also have food allergies, it is a good idea to try a hypoallergenic diet trial for at least 6-8 weeks to see if additional improvement results.

Antihistamines and fatty acids may help to reduce the itching in some pets.

Corticosteroids (such as prednisone, prednisolone, etc.) can be very effective at helping to decrease itching, but may have side effects especially if used at high doses or for long periods of time. There is a new low-concentration corticosteroid (triamcinolone) spray (GENESIS by Virbac) which may be used for up to a month without the side effects of systemic corticosteroids.

Allergy testing whether intradermal (skin) testing or serum assay (blood) testing is not used to determine whether or not an animal has allergies. Instead, it is used for animals with a specific clinical diagnosis of allergy to determine which specific substances the animal is allergic to. Allergy testing is usually used for animals that are going to have allergen immunotherapy. This is a treatment for atopic dermatitis that involves injecting extracts of allergens the pet is sensitive to, in gradually increasing amounts, to lessen or reverse the reaction to those allergens. Allergy testing is used to determine which allergens should be included in the extract. Response to allergen immunotherapy can be seen as soon as 1 month, but usually takes 3-6 months. It can take up to 1 year to see maximum improvement. Response to immunotherapy is 'good to excellent' (at least 50% improvement) in approximately 60-70% of patients.

Just as with humans, allergies can be a serious concern for your pet. In a recent survey by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), skin allergies were the number one reason why pet owners brought their dogs to their veterinarian, and the number four reason why they brought their cats. Parasites, certain medical conditions, and changes in diet are just a few of the ways allergies can develop. The most common symptoms include scratching, paw-licking, and chronic ear infections.

Types of Allergies

Flea allergies are a common allergy in dogs. If a dog suffers from flea allergies the it is important that it becomes completely flea free.

Food allergies are another common allergy. Some ingredients that commonly cause an allergic reactions include: corn, wheat, soy, beef, chicken, pork, preservatives or dyes. Diagnosing a food allergy involves a strict diet change for several weeks and observation as the old diet is reintroduced.

Atopic dermatitis is an inherited tendency to be more sensitivity to certain environmental substances such as pollen, dust mites and mold spores.

To determine what the dog is allergic too, skin tests are often done. Blood testing can be done as well but it lacks the accuracy skin tests have.

Skin tests are performed by clipping the hair from a region on the pet's body and making allergen injections into the skin. The skin will react within several minutes of the injection. An allergic reaction looks like a small, red bump and determines sensitivity to an injected allergen.2

Airborne allergies can affect pets just as they do humans. Dander, pollen, grasses, trees, dust mites, and fabrics can all cause problems. This kind of allergy often begins early in a pet's life, begins as a seasonal discomfort, and gradually extends until it can be a year-round problem. It can often be treated with reducing your pet's exposure to the allergen and medication, but you should be sure to discuss your options and possible side effects with your veterinarian.

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