My dog has eczema: what to do?

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For some time now, your dog has been scratching, licking and biting more than usual. What if you suffer from eczema from a flea bite or an allergy? What to do ? The answers of Dr. Gilles Macherez, veterinarian.

In common parlance, we speak of eczema, but this term is, in fact, reserved for human medicine. With regard to animals, we speak of itch disease.

Canine eczema: what are the causes?

The number one cause of eczema in dogs is for a long time and always flea bites, although the frequency is less important than in the past due to the existence of more effective and safe external antiparasitics, reports Dr. Macherez.

Then come scabies, chiggers that abound in grass and certain plants, demodicosis, dermatophytosis (ringworm), then the allergy panel, whether food or aero-allergen acts that currently account for a growing proportion of inquiries from urban dermatology.

What are the symptoms?

In general, it itches, scratches, licks, bites, and rubs much more frequently than usual. But, "the manifestations differ according to the cause", warns the veterinarian.

Flea saliva: "It causes localized lesions on the back, that is, according to a dorso-lumbar triangle that starts from the base of the tail and goes up the back", explains Dr. Macherez. If there is a secondary infection, the lesions extend to the stomach and inner thighs.

Scabies: causes intense itching of the head, ears (earmuffs) and elbows. "Be careful, in case of a secondary bacterial infection, they can spread quickly to the whole body", warns the veterinarian.

Good to Know: Dog mange is transmittable to humans, but it will not develop there. It only manifests as a small pimple and only requires symptomatic treatment for the itchiness.

Demodicosis is caused by a parasite (microscopic mite). Its symptoms differ according to the age of the animal. "In young dogs, it manifests itself in single or multiple hair removal," explains Dr. Macherez. "In adult or elderly dogs, demodicosis can hide an underlying cause, such as hormonal disease, which must then be identified."

Allergy: characterized by scratching, biting. The itching can cause inflammation and lesions that resemble sores (secondary skin infections due to bacteria and / or yeast, types of fungi).

How to treat dog eczema?

Treatment depends, of course, on the cause.

When eczema is caused by parasites

When the dog has been bitten by a flea or chiggers, "the treatment is based on the prescription of an external or internal dewormer," says the vet. For example, for chiggers, treatment is external and is administered at the level of the interdigital spaces, which is the most frequent location. Fleas are treated by applying a pipette or taking tablets.

"A dog should be treated for fleas 12 out of 12 months," warns the vet. Either by tablet once a month or every three months depending on the molecule, or by monthly pipette ".

When eczema is caused by an allergy

"Testing for food allergies is still in the early stages in animals, the doctor cautions. Therefore, the only possibility is to avoid food." How should we proceed ? "You have to give him a different diet than the one he has already eaten," says the vet. Hydrolyzed proteins are used that reduce the allergenic power. This meal is offered exclusively for 3 months. "If the result is convincing, we continue with this type of diet."

If not? "We are exploring aeroallergens," says Dr. Macherez, "performing intraderm tests with a reading at 20 minutes and 48 hours." "The reaction is positive when there is a circular, thick and red lesion, which indicates that the animal is sensitized to this substance. Then we can desensitize the animal."

"In dogs, desensitization works well in 50 to 70% of cases," says the vet, "and the treatment is harmless to the animal. But you have to be patient. It takes about 9 months to judge effectiveness. of desensitization. Therefore, during this time, the dog should continue on a hypoallergenic diet, supplemented with regular medication and shampoo to control skin infections. "

How to prevent recurrence?

It is also necessary for the owner to follow the established prescription, to perform the care and for the dog to be a collaborator.

"In fact, without the support of the owner and the dog, parasitic diseases can reappear, warns Dr. Macherez. Especially in case of allergies that can vary from mild to very severe, you have to be patient. It takes several months, to sometimes even a year, for the situation to stabilize. "

Furthermore, "dogs often have external otitisassociated or not to other locations of the skin in case of allergy and, sometimes, this is the only clinical expression of the allergy ".

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