It could be Atopy. So what is Atopy?

Atopy is the second most common cause of dermatitis in dogs. It is an allergy to particles in the air that cause hay fever in humans. The skin barrier of an atopic dog is defective, which means these air-borne particles get absorbed deep into the skin and result in inflammation and itchiness.

The classic signs are licking and chewing of feet, face rubbing, and armpit scratching, but dogs with atopy can feel itchy anywhere. Once the skin is damaged from constant scratching, there is a risk of secondary bacterial and/or yeast infections, especially if the weather is humid, like sunny Queensland can be.

Dogs with atopy need personalised therapy, attacking the problem from several angles. The first step is to treat any secondary infections, then reduce itchiness with de-sensitization injections or with oral medications. Next step, is to support the health of the skin barrier with specially formulated diets and/or nutraceuticals (eg. Fishoil ), shampoos and creams. Or course a reliable flea treatment is also essential, such as the monthly chews (eg. Nexgard ), because ANY irritation at all to the skin will exacerbate symptoms.

Atopy has no cure, and can be frustrating, because it requires constant management. With patience, however, there are ways to control it very effectively.