What Are the Common Signs of Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

October 21, 2016
American Veterinarian Editorial Staff

Valerie Fadok, DVM, PhD, DACVD, dermatologist in the Veterinary Specialty Team at Zoetis, discusses canine atopic dermatitis.

Valerie Fadok, DVM, PhD, DACVD, dermatologist in the Veterinary Specialty Team at Zoetis, discusses canine atopic dermatitis.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability).

“Canine atopic dermatitis is, second to flea allergy, the most common cause of itch in dogs and there are some features that make it really distinctive. For one, dogs start developing itch when they’re young, so the first sign is itching, often licking of the feet, and then it progresses in its severity over the years.

There are certain breeds that are predisposed, [such as] the terriers, the bully breeds, some of the other smushy-faced dogs, like Shih Tzus, boxers, and pugs. The thing that’s important for people to understand is that this is a genetic disease, and because it’s a genetic disease, it’s not curable, but it is a manageable disease. So, the major feature is itch and as a result of it continuing on over the life of the dog, they get predisposed to skin infections.

The physical signs that people would see would be redness in the skin, but the first feature is itch. Sometimes when dogs are young and they start licking their feet or scratching their bodies, we could look at the skin and we may not see any lesions, but after time, the hair will start to fall out and we can see that the skin’s very red.”