Canine Atopic Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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While you and I may experience an occasional cough, sneeze, or even asthma in response to environmental allergens, our pups are more likely to experience an uncomfortable skin condition called atopic dermatitis. Dermatological issues are a primary worry of many pet parents, and understanding Atopic Dermatitis can be a step in helping your pup. We want our dogs to be healthy and comfortable, so here is what you can do to help them feel their best if allergies strike. 

What Is Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

Environmental allergens, such as dust, pollen, and mold, can cause an atopic allergic reaction or Atopic Dermatitis (AD). Atopy is the tendency to produce an exaggerated immunoglobulin E immune response to otherwise harmless substances in the environment. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a type of antibody found in mammals synthesized by plasma cells, and it is an important part of the immune response.   

So, Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD) is a common skin disorder wherein a dog has a hereditary predisposition to develop an itchy inflammatory skin disease associated with elevated levels of IgE antibodies, which typically target environmental allergens. CAD is characterized by chronic itchiness and distribution of skin lesions, which are areas of skin that look different from the surrounding area (ex. bumps or patches). 

CAD researched placed initial emphasis on understanding the IgE response to allergens. Elevated IgE levels are undoubtedly significant in the pathogenesis of most cases of CAD. However, research efforts have recently uncovered that the disease is multifactorial and dependent on a range of other biological factors like T-cell polarization, altered mast cell releasability, and impaired skin barrier function. There are a higher proportion of mast cells in a dog’s skin, which release histamines and other substances in the face of an allergic challenge. In humans with AD, an impaired skin barrier is an important precursor to developing the disease. It is also known that the combination of the impaired skin barrier with allergen exposure explains the development of an IgE response to the offending allergens. 

Multiple gene expressions involved in skin barrier function and inflammation have been described as down- or upregulated in the skin of atopic dogs. 361 genes relevant for inflammation, wound healing, or immune response processes showed an increased expression, whereas 226 genes associated with differentiation and skin barrier function showed decreased mRNA concentrations in allergen-treated skin of sensitized dogs. This means genetic evidence suggests that dogs with AD have increased inflammation and immune response while they have reduced skin barrier function. 

What Are The Symptoms of Canine Atopic Dermatitis 

A dog with atopic dermatitis will usually show signs and symptoms between 3 months to 6 years of age. The condition often begins mildly, with symptoms not becoming clinically visible before the third year. 

Symptoms can be seasonal – and often get worse over time. The most commonly affected areas in dogs are the feet, face, ear, armpits, and front legs. Importantly, these areas are distinct from flea allergies, where the tail, groin, and thighs are usually affected. 

The Symptoms Associated with Atopic Dermatitis Include: 

  • Itching 
  • Scratching 
  • Rubbing 
  • Licking 
  • Greasy Skin 
  • Redness or Tough Skin 
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Inflamed ears 
  • “Hot Spots” 

Dogs who suffer from atopic dermatitis may cause injury to themselves when trying to relieve itchiness and open themselves up to infection, alopecia (hair loss), and other symptoms. So, while CAD on its own can be uncomfortable, it is important to consult your veterinarian if you believe your pup has CAD to rule out other conditions and help mitigate the potential risk for secondary infections. 

Treatment of Canine Atopic Dermatitis 

So, what can you do for your pup struggling with CAD? 

Historical treatments include: 

  • Cortisone-type steroids are used to control atopic dermatitis. While these can be effective, they are not without negative side-effects such as excessive urinating and increased susceptibility to infection. Additionally, used long-term, steroids can have an impact on your pup’s longevity.
  • Antihistamines are also used to control AD, but they will not reduce symptoms in all cases. 
  • Anti-itch shampoos can be harsh on irritated skin 

ElleVet has been researching a solution to deliver the benefits of CAD relief while eliminating harsh chemicals or potential side effects. 

ElleVet is excited to share a groundbreaking study investigating the results of our CBD+CBDA oil’s efficacy on dogs with Atopic Dermatitis. Analysis of the data shows that the majority of the dogs enrolled in the study have a significant improvement in skin itchiness. The positive results are significant given that the dogs participating in the study were all refractory to the typical products known to work. 

Dermatological issues are among the most common complaints from pet owners and are a huge source of stress for both pets and their owners. Hopefully, ElleVet’s CBD+CBDA can provide relief to you and your pup!


The ElleVet Team
844-673-7287
[email protected]

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