A recent study in the United States estimates that 27% of all dogs in the United States have allergies that affect their skin and ears primarily. Veterinary allergists are veterinary dermatologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of pet allergies. They have had three to four years of advanced training after obtaining their veterinary degree, and many are involved in the research, development and clinical trials for new products used to treat pet allergies. Oftentimes, the general practitioner will refer difficult cases to a veterinary allergist, as these skin and ear specialists have more experience in dealing with allergic dogs. In addition, they have the most recent knowledge about the newest therapeutic options available. Veterinary allergists help educate the general practitioner through their day-to-day interactions, lectures, and newsletters.
The most common manifestation of allergies in dogs is atopic dermatitis. Environmental allergens such as pollens, molds and dust mites as well as foods can trigger signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Early clinical signs of atopic dermatitis include redness of the skin and/or ears and itch, most commonly involving the armpits, groin and skin between the toes; the muzzle, ears, skin around the eyes and limbs may also be affected. Dogs with atopic dermatitis are more likely to develop other allergies such as flea allergy dermatitis and are more prone to getting bacterial and yeast infections of their skin. These secondary infections can make dogs itchier. Many of the changes seen in the skin of allergic dogs such as hair loss, blackening, thickening, scabs and bleeding are a result of the dogs scratching, licking or chewing on his or herself. Treatments for atopic dermatitis may include allergy testing and hyposensitization (allergy shots), anti-inflammatory medications and strategic use of topical therapeutics. Our knowledge and treatment of atopic dermatitis is constantly evolving and it is the veterinary allergists’ responsibility to keep up with the latest science and developments that impact patient care.
If you are a pet owner in the New York or Connecticut area and have a dog suffering from allergies, contact the allergy specialists for dogs at MedVet Norwalk.