Canine atopic dermatitis, a “nightmare” that affects one in ten dogs

“Your dog has fleas, he won’t stop scratching! This is a frequent shortcut that we hear when a dog is barking… and that we also often find in cultural representations, comics or cartoons: the dog sitting on his back rubbing his neck with his back foot, releasing a cloud of fleas around. If fleas are prevalent, regardless of the time of year, many other skin problems can bother a dog…

It is a chronic disease characterized by the skin no longer fulfilling its role as a protective barrier, an unbalanced skin flora, and a predisposition to allergies. The dog is more sensitive and reactive to some, if not all, allergens in daily life, such as dust mites, pollens (grass, birch, cypress, herbaceous, etc.) or those in food. Even flea saliva contains powerful allergens that can make others worse. Consequences: red spots, pimples, on the face, between the fingers, at the level of the folds, repeated ear infections, skin superinfections, a bad smell and, of course, attacks scratching, licking and the sign of the sled (the dog rubs its buttocks on the ground).

“It’s a dream for him and for us”

But the manifestations vary greatly from dog to dog. In addition, “atopy” means in Greek a- “without” and topos- “place”, therefore “without a place”, basically, a rare disease. Anne, the Belgian mistress of Darko, a 6-year-old Cane Corso, faces it: “It’s a nightmare for him and for us. It touches his ears; when he’s in crisis he shakes himself and throws drool from the floor to the ceiling, he throws himself on the furniture or the floor to scratch himself, it’s really sad to see. Within a few months, we found the right which is balanced with cortisone in small doses after trying everything, because given his weight (82 kg), other treatments cannot be paid”.

Veterinary doctor Pascal Prélaud*, specialist in dermatology, confirms this: “It is one of the diseases that most affects the quality of life of owners and dogs. The owners are always worried, for various reasons: the cost, the restrictions, the burden of the treatments, the suffering of the animal…”

But then, what should be put in the ear chip? The age of onset (usually between 6 months and 3 years), the symptoms of the course (in puppies, redness of the skin and dandruff in the coat can signal the development of the disease), the manifestation through outbreaks or in attacks, the environment. (city dogs are more dangerous) and the breed. In fact, in some (and many) predisposed breeds (bulldogs, amstaff, shiba, westie, dachshund, jack russell, german shepherd, labrador, bull terrier, etc.), up to 30% of workers are affected.

But while in humans, eczema is closely linked to the psyche, what about dogs? Dr. Prélaud replied: “The link is not very clearly established. But it is certain that a dog who is “good about himself” will lick himself for a few seconds while a stressed dog will do it excessively, for a long time and will not stop it. It is likely, like a vicious circle, to maintain the symptoms of the disease.

There is no complete cure, but basic treatments

Of course, only the veterinarian can diagnose atopic dermatitis in dogs and offer the appropriate management of the disease. For example, it is possible to consider desensitization to some allergens. Natacha, from Langon in Aquitaine, went there with her jack russel Haka, who is now 11 years old: “He started his atopic allergy at just 2 years old. After several unsuccessful treatments, we followed a desensitization protocol, one injection per month and since then it has improved a lot. »

Doctor Prélaud says: “Atopic dermatitis is a disease that cannot be completely cured, but during flare-ups, the itching can be calm and a background treatment helps to avoid attacks”. Like, for example, shampoos or emollients and restructuring treatments, the provision of essential fatty acids, strict anti-flea treatment… In all cases, atopic dermatitis in dogs is not contagious to humans.

*Doctor Pascal Prélaud is the author of the book “Canine Atopic Dermatitis: 100 questions” in Poulot editions12.50 euros.

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