Canine atopy
“Canine Atopy” with dermatitis around the eye, caused by rubbing. Via Wikipedia Commons.

My colleagues and I use immunotherapy on a fair number of dogs to treat atopic dermatitis. Research tells us it can be a valuable tool in some dogs, but at the same time up to a third of dogs respond poorly.

We are lucky in our practice as anecdotally we find the majority of dogs do well, and we only get 10% to 15% that do not respond. This may be because:

  • We are really hot on parasite control in our practice – we have a large urban fox population and see cases of angiostrongylosis – so we advise Advocate on a regular, monthly basis. So it is unusual for us to see atopic dogs that flare due to concurrent parasite infestation.
  • We strongly advise owners to do and/or preserve with food trials – and some, okay, just one or two, do respond and relapse on challenge.
  • We also try to make sure we keep the perpetuating factors, for example, pyoderma and Malassezia dermatitis, to a minimum with medicated wipes and shampoos.
  • The older the dog when it starts immunotherapy the less likely it is to respond and we advise our owners accordingly.

Good luck with those frustrating allergy cases – hopefully there are some tips here to help. And cats also do well on immunotherapy.

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