Treatments For Atopic Dermatitis In Cocker Spaniels

Treatments for Atopic Dermatitis in Cocker Spaniels

Any breed of dog can have Atopic Dermatitis, but it is very common in Cocker Spaniels. There are many other conditions that can cause the same symptoms, so the only way the veterinarian can get a diagnosis is by process of elimination. Atopic Dermatitis causes a lot of itching and the dog can open the skin, so it should get attention right away.


Atopic Dermatitis is a genetic condition in which the dog has itchy skin. It can be a seasonal condition set off by pollen or non-seasonal and set off by common household contaminants such as dust and tobacco smoke. The dog can itch in any spot, but it is most common in the ears and the folds of the lips and feet.


Corticosteroids, or steroids such as cortisone is one of the most common courses of treatment for Atopic Dermatitis in Cocker Spaniels. Steroid work fast and are very effective at stopping an itch. However, they cannot be used over the long term because they have serious side effects. They make the dog eat, drink and urinate more. Steroids can also cause changes in the dog’s behavior and over time can lead to liver disease, kidney disease, and/or eye and joint problems.


Antihistamines can help a dog just like they do a human, but human drugs do not work the same way in animals as they do in humans. Antihistamines only help about 50% of the time in dogs. In humans, the results are felt almost immediately. In dogs, it can take as long as 2 weeks because it has to build up in the body to do any good. However, with very few exceptions, antihistamines are safe over the long term. While the antihistamines used are the same as many sold over the counter, do not just give them to the dog. The dosage is different and it does have to be monitored by a veterinarian.

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Atopica® is a brand name of a drug called cyclosporine, the same drug that is used for dry eye. For Atopic Dermatitis, it comes in capsul form, not drops. Atopica® is also one of the most effective of the drugs, working in about 75% of the cases. Atopica® is also easy to administer and it only needs to be given once a day. However, it is expensive and can take up to 2 months to build up enough to be effective and there can be side effects.

Allergy Shots

After testing to see what the dog is allergic too, the dog is injected with the substance it is allergic to so immunity can be built up. Testing can be done in different ways. It can be by a prick test, just like it is in humans. The dog gets up to 60 different allergens inserted under the skin and the one that produces a hive is the culprit. The veterinarian could also choose to do a blood test. Allergy shots help in about 70% of the cases, but the dog may still need to take antihistamines.