Diagnosis and Treatment of Small Animals Allergic Dermatitis

By: SA Perillo

Allergic dermatitis refers to the group of skin allergies that is caused by several factors such as food allergy, atopy and fleabite allergy. However, other causes such as drug allergy, skin contact allergy from rough or furry material such as carpet, and other topical medications, pyoderma, lice infection, scabies, yeast infection could also cause allergic dermatitis. Normally, allergies begin to form when an allergen, a foreign substance is exposed to the body, causing the body to react. These reactions may be manifested through swelling and thickening of the skin, loosing hair, skin pigmentation, and brown salivary stain. The reaction may also be exhibited by the dog through behaviors such as scratching, biting and licking of the face, ears and feet or through shaking of the head.

When these symptoms are observable, it is best to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a diagnostic procedure to ascertain that what he is experiencing is indeed allergic dermatitis. Among these diagnostic procedures include: skin scraping through the use of surgical blade, the skin is scraped to check presence of mites and its eggs; skin cytology in which fluid smears and puss filled vesicles are taken as samples to determine which bacteria or yeast infection causes inflammation; complete blood count and biochemical profiling to evaluate the blood content and other organ functions especially done when the dog exhibits other illnesses symptoms.

Allergy blood test is another diagnostic procedure in determining allergic dermatitis. It involves series of special tests designed to find out which specific kind of allergen causes the irritation. However, allergy blood test may not always be reliable but certainly these are helpful in ruling out other possible suspect. On the other hand, intra-dermal allergy tests involve testing of the skin for allergic responses depending on what small amount of allergen is injected in specific areas of the skin. Although this is more reliable than allergy blood test, it could yearn false results especially when not properly performed; the interpretation may be invalid therefore a combination of other diagnostic tests would most likely be suggested to create a sound analysis of the possible cause. Done when there’s suspected atopy, allergy skin testing should be performed by credible dermatologists or veterinarians. Lastly, dietary trials are best advised when a possible food allergy is suspected. Dietary trials simply means subjecting the dog to a food elimination diet process, it consists of sources of proteins that your dog may have not yet eaten. These diets may be home-cooked or prescribed by the veterinarian. Treats, rawhides, flavored vitamins, or flavored heartworm medications, and table food must all be excluded from the diet. The duration of this diet trial depends on the improvement observed with the dog.

Treatments for allergic dermatitis include avoidance of offending allergens, anti-itch or anti-bacterial shampoos that may have allergic components, anti-histamines, corticosteroid therapy, immunotherapy or allergy vaccines, fatty acid supplementation, dietary management and antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial skin infections. These treatment procedures may be done in combination depending on the advise of the veterinarian.

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