Chronic itching in your dog is most commonly caused by atopic dermatitis from an allergic reaction to something in their environment, including soaps or detergents used on their bedding, smoke, mold spores, fleas, or the food they eat. The areas that are most affected are the groin, underarms, between their toes, and around their eyes.
Your dog will scratch and lick these areas and can cause lesions that may become infected. Rapid treatment for atopic dermatitis is the best way to avoid paying higher vet bills if an infection occurs as well, and finding out what is causing the allergic reaction will be essential to your pet’s comfort.
Atopica or generic Cyclosporine A is an option that is more effective than antihistamines and has fewer side effects than long-term treatment with a glucocorticoid drug. When given orally as directed, Atopica will work to suppress immune system cells from sending messages that stimulate the release of histamine from the mast cells in your dog’s skin. Without histamine, there is less vascular permeability so the tissues will not swell and become inflamed and very itchy. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
Through the process of elimination, you may be able to discover the source of your dog’s allergies. Changing food to a hypoallergenic formula, wash bedding only in dye and scent-free detergents, putting their bed on laminate or tiled floors and away from carpeting, or the obvious, check for fleas! Your dog may be a breed that is more prone to allergies than other breeds. The golden and lab retrievers are very susceptible to allergies, also boxers, German shepherds, and cocker spaniels.
As dogs scratch, gnaw, and lick irritated areas of skin, you may notice a moist red spot growing where the saliva and scratching have caused a break in the skin. This is a hot spot and can result in another vet bill unless you are able to spot it quickly and try to keep the area clean and dry. Trimming the toenails can help reduce the risk of causing any lesions from scratching. Atopica is a potent Cyclosporine that is more beneficial for long-term treatment with less side effects than steroid drugs offer.
If you are able to “pill” your dog easily, no problems. But you may need to hide the drug in a small bit of food in hopes it won’t be spit out. The contents of the Atopica capsules are bitter, so do not sprinkle it on a treat or it will not be eaten. Ask your veterinarian if Atopica is safe to be given to a breeding, pregnant, or nursing canine. Atopica should not be administered to dogs with abnormal benign or malignant growths called neoplasia.
Be patient as Atopica may take several weeks before any noticeable improvements are apparent. Atopica is dosed according to your dog’s weight so it is not recommended to try and split the capsule among 2 or more dogs. This can make treatment ineffective and the pets are still itchy. Keep Atopica and all other medications out of children’s reach. Contact your veterinarian if there does not appear to be any improvement in your dog’s skin after 2 weeks of treatment.