Treatment Simplified: A Guide to Comfort for the Itchy Dog (Sponsored by Novartis Animal Health)


Treatment Simplified: A Guide to Comfort for the Itchy Dog (Sponsored by Novartis Animal Health)

Jun 01, 2012
By staff

Atopic dermatitis, a pruritic and inflammatory disease, has no cure. One estimate indicates that one in 10 dogs in the United States has atopic dermatitis, which makes it one of the most common chronic conditions that veterinarians encounter.1 Although practitioners are growing more adept at diagnosing atopic dermatitis, the real challenge comes with providing immediate relief of patients' clinical signs while addressing their underlying allergic disease. This article illustrates how managing atopic dermatitis in dogs may be simplified and will help you provide comfort for these pruritic canine patients.

Treatment Simplified: Start early, address flares, and assess progress

Atopic dermatitis can start with acute, seasonal flare-ups and if the underlying disease process is not managed, it progresses, over several months to years, to a nonseasonal, chronic condition.2 Thus, managing the disease earlier should be beneficial. Every dog that suffers from atopic dermatitis has its individual allergic threshold — the point at which the environmental allergen load triggers the dog's immune system to react. Once the allergic threshold is exceeded, the dog develops inflammation, pruritus, and pain, which usually results in skin damage. Therefore, treatment of the clinical signs and long-term management are always aimed at returning to a point below the dog's allergic threshold. This, in turn, reduces the number and severity of allergy flare-ups that the patient experiences.

Even in well-managed patients, occasional flare-ups are inevitable and should not be deemed a long-term treatment failure. Jerry Wilson, DVM, owner of Animal Hospital of Collin County in Allen, Texas, says, "Having a plan that will decrease the frequency and severity of these flare-ups is in the best interest of the patient and client. Long-term success is achievable with the correct diagnosis and medication regimen."

Figure 1
Once atopic dermatitis has been diagnosed, this three-month "Treatment Simplified" protocol (Figure 1) may be implemented to help control patients' clinical signs and monitor their response.

For more information about the Treatment Simplified protocol, visit