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Skin Disorders – The Short Guide

Shining a light on Atopic Dermatitis

The bane of many an owner’s life and pet’s comfort and even quality of life, Atopic dermatitis (or atopy) is an inflammatory, chronic skin condition associated with environmental allergies and is the second most common allergic skin condition diagnosed in dogs. Dogs should be seen and assessed by a veterinarian, often resulting in a course of antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and corticosteroids to help with the inflammation and itching. Long term management involves keeping their skin as healthy as possible and identifying and minimizing contact with triggers.

Common Triggers:

Atopic dermatitis is a genetic disease that is more prevalent in some breeds than others than others.

  • Direct contact with another animal, object, plant, or irritating chemical substance (grass seeds, cleaning agents, chlorine in swimming pools etc)
  • Excessive rubbing of the skin
  • Allergies to food (The most common culprits are proteins found in chicken, beef, lamb, soy, egg, dairy, and wheat.)
  • Yeast or fungi
  • Infection by parasites such as fleas, ticks, mites, lice, worms
  • Skin allergies or hypersensitivity
  • Pyoderma in the dog (bacterial skin infection translates to “pus in the skin”)
  • Canine acne
  • Malnutrition

Susceptible Breeds:

  • Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Irish and English Setters
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Pugs
  • English and French Bulldogs
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Maltese Poodles


  • Scratching skin and or ears
  • Pinkened, thickened or raised skin
  • Licking of the body, especially the paws
  • Chewing on their skin
  • Chronic ear and skin infections
  • Smelly ears and skin
  • Hair loss
  • Rubbing against the floor or grass and sand
  • Watery eyes
  • Cuts
  • Scabs
  • Open wounds

Most susceptible parts of the body:

  • Ears
  • Underarms
  • Groin and tummy
  • Paws especially between the toes and just behind / the pads
  • Around the eyes
  • Muzzle

How to help at home:

When treating atopic dermatitis, consider natural, at-home remedies, including:

  • Diet: Food allergies can increase the amount of itching and scratching. Feeding a quality diet high, recognized brand of dog food is helpful. Avoid soy-based products, chemicals, and impurities. Supplements should not be added to your dog’s food unless directed by your veterinarian. It is important to note that food allergies are typically caused by proteins, not by grains. Do not change your dog’s diet or offer a grain-free food without first consulting with your veterinarian.
  • Probiotics: Incorporating probiotics into a dog’s digestive system will put back the “good” bacteria and aid in overall health.
  • Cleanliness: Good grooming is essential, especially for a dog with allergies. Brushing the fur daily will remove dander and dandruff. Bathing once a week with a gentle shampoo can also help to eliminate allergens on the skin. In addition to bathing, frequently cleaning the areas in which your dog occupies will remove excess hair, dirt, and dust.
  • Vitamin E oil: Vitamin E oil is a powerful antioxidant that acts as a moisturizer on a dog’s skin. Atopic dermatitis can cause dry skin, so massaging some of this into the skin can be helpful. Do not, however, give your dog oral Vitamin E unless directed to do so by your veterinarian.
  • Environment: Be conscious of the weather, and avoid early morning or afternoon walks, especially during springtime, since the pollen count is usually higher during this time.
  • Ear Hygiene: WamPum Ear Powder residue in the ear will absorb all moisture and kill all bacteria and fungus that grow in the closed warm ear environment. Buy here
  • Skin Soothing and health: The WamPum Soothing Skin Spray contains 4 skin actives, 2 natural ones and two conventional medicinal ones: comfrey extract, witch hazel extract, salicylic acid and allantoin.  It can be used safely with any other medication.  It is water-based so there is no residual cream base for the dog to keep licking at. Founder Heidi Rolfes says, “The Spray completely solves 85% of all skin itching cases and alleviates the balance to a very large extent.” Buy here
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