Skin Allergy Clinic
Make The Next Move on Itchy Skin
- Skin Allergy Testing
- Desensitisation Injections
- Derma Spa Treatments (medicated, therapeutic washes)
So What Is Atopy?
ATOPY is a common skin disease causing itchiness in dogs: it is a genetically-programmed reaction or allergy to inhaled airborne pollens from common grass, trees and weed pollens, mould spores, insects and dust mites.
Most dogs develop atopy as young adults i.e. between one and three years of age. The most common clinical sign is itching, usually involving the muzzle, around the eyes, earflaps, armpits, groin and paws. Some dogs have recurrent ear infections.
As a result of chewing, licking, rubbing and scratching, the skin becomes inflamed and is prone to secondary infections with bacteria and yeast. In dogs with chronic disease, there is hair loss and the skin often becomes thickened, scaly and black. The hair coat may feel greasy and may be associated with an offensive odour.
Traditional first line medical treatments include cortisone-based drugs (although not recommended for long term allergy control), antihistamines and fatty acid supplementation. These may aid in relieving symptoms but rarely controls them completely. Others strategies such as avoidance of allergens may be helpful but many allergens are difficult to completely exclude.
Once a diagnosis of atopy is made and the offending allergens have been identified, immunotherapy is an effective treatment for the long-term management of this disease. Immunotherapy desensitizes your dog against inhaled pollens, moulds, house dust and insects that commonly cause allergies.
So what is immunotherapy?
It’s a series of injections, where we inject larger and larger amounts of the offending allergen into your dog, which makes its immune system gradually less sensitive to those allergens
Identifying Offending Allergens
Once we have diagnosed atopy in your best friend, we can identify the offending allergens via two methods:
- Intradermal skin test– the test panel screens for 64 South Australian state specific allergens. Then using cross-reactivity tables, we formulate a vaccine for your dog’s needs – according to geographical area, climate (humidity), environmental considerations (inside or outside pet) as well as the offending allergens.
- The second test method is Canine Allergy Serum ELISA (Blood Test) – we take the blood at Pet Universe and the analysis is done by Idexx Laboratories and DermCare-Vet run by Dr. Ken Holmes, a leading Veterinary Dermatologist in Queensland. Dermcare will then formulate a vaccine from the results. This test panel screens for 48 common allergens, including grasses, weeds, moulds and house dust mites.
A desensitization course typically consists of a series injections every three days and then a maintenance dose at 21-day intervals for eighteen months or until the patient has been free of clinical symptoms for twelve months or one full allergy season. Boosters can be given if symptoms reoccur or, if symptoms are seasonal, as a prophylactic measure before this period.
It is important to realize that improvement will be gradual with obvious benefits taking from two to six months to appear. While some 70% of dogs are considerably helped by allergy vaccines, there are around 30% in which the vaccine is less effective. N.B. If you are planning in advance for skin allergy testing, certain medications need to be withdrawn for a specific period of time prior to testing.