Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin. One of the most common types of dermatitis is allergic dermatitis. In the allergic state, the body’s immune system overreacts to foreign substances (allergens or antigens) to which it is exposed. In people, allergies commonly cause signs of hay fever. In dogs and cats, the most common sign of allergy is itching of the skin, either localised (one area) or generalised (whole-body).
Various factors make allergic dermatitis a lot more common in the summer months. There are many different types of allergic dermatitis, all with the same primary symptom – itchy skin. Correct diagnosis is the key to successful treatment and a veterinary consultation is always recommended. There are however two very important things that you can do at home to ease the symptoms in minor cases, and to help prevent allergic dermatitis in healthy dogs:
- Bath your dog regularly (weekly or fortnightly in summer and monthly in winter) in a quality hypoallergenic shampoo such as Aloveen or Dermcare Natural Shampoo.
- Maintain effective flea control at all times.
Food Allergy is another common cause of allergic dermatitis and there are many other potential causes of itchy skin that we don’t have space to discuss here. A veterinary consultation is essential. The treatment of allergic dermatitis can often be frustrating and time-consuming. Complete cure is not always possible, but in most cases the problem can be successfully managed.
By Macarthur Veterinary Group