After having diagnosed atopic dermatitis there are several treatment options to be considered.
The elimination of allergens aims to completely avoid contact with the allergens. This method is the fastest way to get results, but is often not an option; this is certainly the case if there is hypersensitivity for multiple antigens or in the case of hypersensitivity to grass, tree pollen or house dust mite which are very difficult if not impossible to avoid, for example.
Symptomatic medication relieves the allergic symptoms from which the patient is suffering fairly quickly, but only for a limited period of time. Unfortunately, most symptomatic drugs have disadvantages, particularly if they – as is the case in atopy – have to be administered for life.
Antihistamines are only slightly effective in dogs (10-15% effectiveness).
Treatment with corticosteroids and cyclosporine is highly suitable to suppress the allergy.
Symptomatic therapies can be useful for the following categories of patients:
Administering Essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, in the diet can lead to a positive result in approx. 10% of the cases.
Allergen specific immunotherapy tries to make the patient less sensitive or not sensitive at all for the substance to which it is allergic by injecting the animal with the allergens in increasingly larger doses and at increasingly longer intervals.
Patients that have symptoms for more than 3 months can be considered for Allergen-specific immunotherapy. The owner should be made aware that this is a lifelong treatment that does not cure the condition completely, but rather keeps it under control.
The results of allergen-specific immunotherapy: a significant improvement (>50%) of the clinical signs occurs in the course of time in 75% of the treated animals; it is assumed in this respect that any pyodermitis (skin infection) and/or seborrhea (dry form of excessive secretion of sebum mixed with flakes of the skin) is treated simultaneously1.
There is essentially no limit to the number of allergens that can be included in the allergen-specific immunotherapy.
The number of allergens also has no influence on the effectiveness of the allergen-specific immunotherapy.
1 Willemse. Tijdschr. Diergeneesk. Deel 129 (2004) 402-408