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Like humans, dogs can be allergic to lots of different things in everyday life. These allergies can show up in the same way as humans too, with dogs getting ear infections, eye infections and skin conditions.
Of all the dog skin conditions, atopic dermatitis is one of the most common, affecting around 1 in 10 dogs with varying degrees of severity. It's similar to the skin condition in humans known as eczema, and affected dogs have itchy, red, flaky skin.
See the animation for a more detailed explanation of what happens to a dog's skin when it has atopic dermatitis:
Dogs that suffer from atopic dermatitis for a long time may have a low quality of life if the disease is not treated and managed correctly. This means it can be difficult to deal with for pet owners who hate to see their dogs suffering. However, it's also difficult for vets too, because it's a tricky condition that can take weeks and sometimes months to diagnose.
On the positive side, there are a number of treatments that can help to relieve a dog's itching from atopic dermatitis. You can read more about these in treating atopic dermatitis.
Dog atopic dermatitis is the result of an animal becoming too sensitive to one or more allergens in the environment, for example:
It is thought there may be a genetic cause as atopic dermatitis is more common in certain breeds (e.g. Terriers, Retrievers).
Many dogs have a lot of allergies and may even suffer from a combination of atopic dermatitis and other allergies, for example flea allergy.
When there are a lot of allergens in the environment, signs of atopic dermatitis can suddenly get a lot worse or ‘flare up’, just like humans getting an attack of hayfever in the summer.
Watch this Educational Video to Learn More About the Disease Atopy
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