Pet Skin Allergies

Atopy One of the Top Insurance Claims

Cat scratching

Like humans, animals are prone to allergies that can cause them a great amount of discomfort.

Atopic dermatitis (atopy) is a disease in pets generally caused by an allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as pollens, dust mites and mold spores. It’s also one of the top claims submitted by Veterinarian Pet Insurance (VPI) policyholders year after year.

Skin Condition Affects Dogs and Cats

In 2011 alone, policyholders submitted approximately 57,150 claims for canine atopy, accounting for more than $5.6 million in medical claims amounts—making it the second highest claim submitted for dogs behind ear infections (which can also be caused by atopy). Although not as prevalent in cats as it is in dogs, atopy falls within the top 10 claims submitted for felines in 2011.

“Atopy, along with flea and food allergies, are the three main causes of dry, itchy and inflamed skin in both dogs and cats,” says Dr. Cori Gross, VPI field veterinarian based in Seattle, Wash.

Gross says animals normally develop atopy between the ages of one and three, and if not treated, it can become seasonally worse over time.

Atopy Symptoms

Symptoms of atopy include:

  • Excessive scratching and itching of the eyes, mouth, ears and paws
  • Inflamed skin that is hot to the touch (lesions)
  • Recurrent ear infections

Animals normally develop atopy between the ages of one and three and,  if not treated, it can become seasonally worse over time.

Treating Atopy

German shepherd

There are a number of solutuions pet owners can try at home to relieve their pet’s syptoms including bathing their four-legged friends with hypoallergenic shampoos or including a fatty acid supplements in their pets diet.

Gross warns, however, that while at-home remedies might provide some temporary relief for your fuzzy friend, it doesn’t solve the problem long-term.

Your veterinarian can prescribe multiple treatment options for atopy including cyclosporine (a prescription drug) and/or other oral steroids and antihistamines, and can even conduct skin allergy testing to determine your pet’s specific allergy.

Pet owners should always pay attention to their animals’ behavior and schedule regular visits to the veterinarian.


Read more about pet skin irritations.

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