Atopic dermatitis, or atopy, is a common skin problem in dogs that normally occurs due to an allergic reaction. Pollen and dust mites are two of the most common allergens that cause atopic dermatitis in canines, and because dogs cannot avoid these triggers, atopic dermatitis can seem like it appears from nowhere.
Common symptoms that dogs tend to exhibit when they have atopic dermatitis are: itchiness, scratching excessively, hair loss, skin that is flaky or greasy and sometimes accompanied with a foul odor, excessive chewing on certain areas of their bodies, sneezing, watery eyes and licking their paws. Typical areas of chewing include the groin, belly, inner thighs, and paws. Additionally, chronic or recurrent ear infections are common sequelae of atopic dermatitis.
Treating Your Itchy Dog
Treatment requires a multi-faceted approach to control atopic dermatitis. Often, veterinarians will work with owners to come up with a dietary management plan, topical therapies that hydrate the dog’s skin and aid in removing the allergens and bacteria, nonsteroidal oral antipruritics (these are the essential fatty acids), corticosteroids, cyclosporine therapy, systemic antimicrobials, immunotherapy, or a combination of the above. But, if you are looking for a holistic way to manage the atopic dermatitis, keep reading.
Determine the Exacerbating Factors
While one of the first things that pet owners will need to do when dealing with atopic dermatitis is determining the triggers and attempting to eliminate them, it may be difficult, as mentioned above, to eradicate what is causing the problem. However, if factors that exacerbate the atopic dermatitis can be determined and eliminated, this can be a very large part of the treatment approach. Sometimes, stressful situations, temperature and humidity can contribute to or exacerbate atopy, as well.
A study on the therapeutic options for canine atopic dermatitis from 2009 states that a diet that is rich in essential fatty acids – Omega3 and Omega6 – are extremely beneficial in treating canine atopic dermatitis. Another study highlighting a traditional Chinese herbal remedy, called P07P, concludes that the herbal remedy demonstrated that it could be a beneficial replacement for nonsteroidal therapy for canines with atopic dermatitis.
In 2004, another study evaluated a proprietary blend of plant extracts called PYM00217. This particular study concluded that the PYM00217 could be another possible therapy for canine atopic dermatitis. According to this study, PYM00217 appeared to be well-tolerated and palatable, as well as effective for the dogs involved in the study.
Treating the symptoms of atopic dermatitis is just as important as treating the disease, because constant itching can cause hot spots as well as secondary Staph (bacterial) and yeast infections. The Farmer’s Almanac has a list of pet home remedies on their website for itchiness, and many pet owners are surprised to find out that some of the same remedies that humans use can also be used on canines.
For example, give your dog an oatmeal bath by running warm water over a nylon stocking or sock filled with uncooked oatmeal and then soaking your dog in the water for about ten minutes. Aloe Vera also works on your dog’s itchy skin to soothe and calm the itchiness.