Definition of Atopy
Atopy, also called allergic inhalant dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, atopic eczema and immune-mediated skin hypersensitivity, is a common genetically-influenced disease that makes dogs react to things that normally don’t cause skin problems. The triggers of atopic reactions are called allergens. These can be anything that causes the immune system to overreact. One dog may be overly sensitive to weed pollen in the air, while its littermate may be allergic to touching grass. Common allergens are pollen, grasses, weeds, trees, mold, dust, dust mites, grains, chemicals, fertilizers, wool and feathers. Most affected animals are allergic to more than one thing. Atopic dogs get itchy when they come into contact with something that overstimulates their immune system. At first, symptoms may be mild. Many dogs eventually start scratching and biting at their skin and become extremely distraught. This causes skin sores and infections, making the dog miserable. Atopy usually is controllable with medicine and lifestyle changes. Veterinary and owner attention are necessary to keep the dog comfortable.