Ask the SkinVetMy 3 year old Frenchie has been having allergy problems for the past year and a half. His skin continues to stay the same even though we have done allergy shots, steroids, Benadryl, and hydrocortisone. Is there a brand of food you would recommend with omega 3 fatty acids? Also is Atopica a long term medication? —Lori W., Pittsburgh, PA
It sounds like you have tried a lot of things. First, you would want to make sure that your veterinarian is confident that he has canine atopic dermatitis. This diagnosis is made based primarily on history and clinical signs. Alternate diagnoses and concurrent infections should also be investigated, and treated if necessary.
For dogs with atopic dermatitis (allergies), feeding them a food rich in essential fatty acids can be helpful. Some of the best in this regards are fish-based foods, such as Royal Canin Skin Support. You can find others in high-end pet stores as well.
Atopica® (cyclosporin) is a medication that helps most dogs with atopic dermatitis become more comfortable. It works by modifying cellular signals that mediate the allergic reaction causing atopic dermatitis. It is usually prescribed daily for the first month. At that point, your veterinarian will assess the response and may reduce the dose if he is doing well, usually to every other day. Long-term treatment is usually required. It appears to be relatively safe in dogs that do not have a history of cancer, but pets should be monitored by your veterinarian.
Wishing comfortable skin for Frenchie,
The SkinVet, Jon D. Plant, DVM, DACVD
Board-certified veterinary dermatologist
SkinVet® Clinic, PLLC Lake Oswego, OR
Dr. Plant's answers in "Ask the SkinVet" are made without the benefit of a physical examination. Treatment should not be based on these answers only after an examination by a qualified veterinary professional. For more information, see the web site of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology.