New treatments for dog skin allergies could be just around the corner says Dr Mike Shipstone

New treatments for dog skin allergies

The immune system plays a crucial role in atopic dermatitis. Photo: Easy Morning/

New treatments for dog skin allergies that causes chronic itching and irritation could be just around the corner, says animal dermatology expert, Dr Mike Shipstone.

This week, at a conference run by the small animal special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association, Dr Shipstone from Dermatology for Animals in Brisbane will discuss new therapies that are emerging that could provide better long-term control of atopic dermatitis – a seemingly incurable skin disease.

“Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease usually associated with allergies, such as dust, food, pollens, mould, insects. It’s a complex disease, which is as equally complex to successfully treat. Treatment needs to be based on each individual case, rather than following any one simple ‘recipe’,” Dr Shipstone said.

“The odd thing though, is that vets, have come across dogs without confirmed allergies that are still biting, scratching, rubbing and gnawing. So, if it’s not allergies, what’s causing it? And is it breed-specific?

“One thing we do know is that it’s a disease influenced by genetics to some degree. Breeds including Staffordshire bull terriers, Labradors, German Shepherds, Beagles and Westies are much more commonly affected.

“The immune system plays a crucial role in atopic dermatitis and new targets for therapy are emerging that are aimed at controlling the immune’s response to allergies. This is great news for dog owners who are watching their pet struggle with constantly irritated and inflamed skin.

Dr Shipstone says that there are currently multiple treatment options available to help control atopic dermatitis including immunotherapy, steroids and antibiotics. However, not all are suitable or effective in each case which is why pet owners can be hopeful that current research in this area could lead to better treatments.

Dog owners who notice their pet constantly scratching should speak to their veterinarian who’ll be able determine the best course of treatment based on their dog’s needs.