As a veterinarian specializes in dermatology, I continue to see dogs with atopic dermatitis.

 Many of these individuals, that I visit,  already have the diagnosis made by other doctors. 

 Even e-mail, one of the requests for help, that I receive most frequently, it’s to relate dogs with atopic dermatitis that do not heal.

 Yet very little is known about the disease.

 We know for sure, that atopy is linked to an overreaction of the immune system to environmental allergens.

In practice, particles that are widespread in the environment, such as pollen, fragments of human skin, feces of mites, fragments of proteins, instead of passing unnoticed by the immune system, triggering subject suffering from atopy, an immune reaction disproportionate. 

The body releases the chemical mediators in the skin that causing redness and itching. The dog is scratching, it hurts with the nails, the itching increases … A disaster!

Electron microscope photographs of fragments of skin of diseased subjects, show a disorganization of the lipid layer of the dermis. Probably this condition is a genetic basis and this, would explain the predisposition of certain blood lines to develop the disease than others.

The disorganization of the lipid layer of the dermis is probably the cause of the continuous skin infection, that the dog suffering from atopy is subject to regular .

So it heals dall’athopy ? No.

The doctor can only control secondary infections and itching through medication .

Medicated shampoos are very useful to also perform weekly on intact skin and several times a week on diseased skin to reduce the clinical signs and treat secondary infections .

For several years the desensitisation treatment against the most common allergens , has proved to be a great help in some subjects , although in some cases it gave no benefit.

 Recently become available drugs immune modulators such as cyclosporine A and tacrolimus that can restore a normal immune response .

These drugs although not devoid of side effects in long-term, have proven to be less toxic than steroids, drug previously used for atopy .

To their disadvantage , however, these drugs prohibitively expensive especially if used for many years and on weighty dogs .

In summary :

From atopy not be healed ;

– You can control the clinical signs of secondary infections such as skin infections, otitis and itching;

– Medicated shampoos are very useful for disinfecting the skin;

– Desensitizing treatments can be helpful in some individuals ;

– Drugs immuno modulators can be a great help ;

– Become the best friend of the veterinarian is a good thing , not so much because the dog will recover, but because we have the best prices on frequent veterinary visits that we face.

Gianluca Barbato


Perfected in Dermatology at the School of Post University SCIVAC

Specializing in Diseases of Pets at the University of Messina