An update on the treatment of canine atopic dermatitis
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida Gainesville, FL, USA
Abstract: Remarkable progress has been made in recent years concerning our understanding of the pathogenesis of canine atopic dermatitis (AD). As our understanding improves, the therapeutic approach evolves. Of utmost importance is the documentation of skin barrier impairment in canine AD: ceramides deficiency leads to increased permeability and increased allergen penetration and sensitization. It is currently unknown whether this dysfunction is primary and genetically inherited or secondary to inflammation but it is accepted that skin barrier deficiency plays an important role in either starting or minimally exacerbating canine AD. Thus, the therapeutic approach has changed from focusing on the control of the inflammation to a combined approach that includes therapies aimed at skin barrier repair. The issue of skin barrier repair has been addressed both with oral administration of essential fatty acids and the topical application of products containing a combination of ceramides and fatty acids. These strategies are most helpful as adjunctive treatments and would be best used in young patients that have not developed chronic skin changes. Importantly, treatment for canine AD is multimodal and tailored to the individual patient, the age, and the duration of the disease. Client education plays an important role in explaining the importance of a long-term approach to minimize flare-ups and, in this context, topical therapy to correct skin barrier can be of great benefit. This is an area still in infancy and much work is needed to identify the best formulation. In human medicine, long-term use of moisturizers can have a profound effect on skin barrier and gene expression of proteins involved in skin barrier. This effect is variable depending on the formulation used. It is reasonable to speculate that the same may be true in dogs; thus, it is very important to identify the correct ingredients and formulation to use.
Keywords: dogs, atopic dermatitis, treatment, skin barrier repair
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