The recently published, Canine atopic dermatitis: detailed guidelines for diagnosis and allergen identification provides interesting insights in managing this frustrating condition.
A total of 81 publications relevant for this review were identified. The guidelines generated focus on three aspects of the diagnostic approach:
- Ruling out of other skin conditions with clinical signs resembling, or overlapping with canine atopic dermatitis.
- Detailed interpretation of the historical and clinical features of patients affected by canine atopic dermatitis.
- Allergy testing by intradermal versus allergen-specific IgE serum testing.
The diagnosis of canine AD is based on meeting clinical criteria and ruling out other possible causes with similar clinical signs. Flea combing, skin scraping and cytology should be performed, where necessary, as part of a thorough work-up. Elimination diet trials are required for patients with perennial pruritus and/or concurrent gastrointestinal signs. Once a clinical diagnosis of canine atopic dermatitis is made, allergy testing can be performed to identify potential causative allergens for allergen-specific immunotherapy such as Allerpaws
Interesting insights on serum testing:
Allergen specific IgE serum testing has several advantages over intradermal testing:
- no patient risk, no sedation required
- less traumatic, no repeated injections
- more convenient, no clipping required
- less time consuming
- lower risk of drugs interfering with test results
- the success rate of allergy immunotherapy based on allergen selection from serum testing or intradermal testing is not significantly different.
1) Hensel et al. BMC Veterinary Research (2015) 11:196 DOI 10.1186/s12917-015-0515-5
Track the Numbers
If you’re allergic to mold, you may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. Mold thrives in so many places, indoors and out. But you can take steps to limit your exposure. Pay attention to outdoor spore levels. When they’re high, don’t spend as much time outside. The National Allergy Bureau sends out email alerts to help you keep track.
Think Before You Go
Mold is more likely to be in certain types of stores and businesses. Examples include greenhouses, farms, flower shops, construction sites, and antique shops. Before you go in, take your allergy medication or bring a dust mask.
Know What to Avoid
Uncut fields and piles of damp leaves are prime places for mold. Stay away if you can. If you need to mow the lawn, dig up plants, or rake leaves, wear a dust mask. When you come back inside, take a shower to wash away any mold spores that hitched a ride on your skin and hair.
Take the Moisture Out
Make your home less mold-friendly. The key is to control the amount of moisture in the air. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners will help. The humidity needs to be below 60%. Between 35% and 50% is even better. You can buy an inexpensive meter to measure your home’s humidity at a hardware store.
Keep It Clean
Mold can thrive in warm, damp bathrooms and humid kitchens. A clean surface isn’t a breeding ground, but those with a little soap scum or grease are. An exhaust fan or open window in the bathroom will help cut down on humidity. In the kitchen, keep an eye out for mold in refrigerator drip pans, door seals, and garbage pails.
Check Your Basement
A damp cellar can be a moldy place. Lower the humidity by turning up the thermostat or running a dehumidifier. Choose flooring such as linoleum or concrete that doesn’t hold in moisture. And take a look at what you’re storing down there: Mold can grow on old papers, bedding, and clothes. Keep things in air-tight, water-proof containers, so mold can’t sneak in.
Get the Mold Out
If you spot mold on a hard surface in your home such as glass, plastic, or tile, clean it using a bleach solution, soap and water, or a commercial product. Still, it’s not enough to just clean it. You need to find the source of it to keep it from happening again. For mold on drywall, you might want to get professional advice.
Filter Your Air
An air-conditioning unit with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter attachment will trap outdoor mold spores and keep them out of your house. It’s also important to keep AC drip pans and drain lines clean so that mold can’t grow in them. Make sure your dryer vents are clear as well.
Quick action pays off. If a leak or spill leaves the rug wet, dry it within 48 hours to keep mold from growing. Mop water off the floor and fix leaky pipes and faucets right away. Do your gutters need cleaning? Don’t delay. The moist leaves inside are a breeding ground.
Check Your Landscape
Do everything you can to keep your home’s foundation dry. Rake dead leaves from around the base of your home. You might also want to clear out thicker shrubs and plants from that area. Make sure rainwater drains away quickly from your house. These steps are extra-important if you live in a shady spot, since a lack of sun means it takes longer for water to dry out.
Spring is here. You can expect to see a dramatic increase in cases of allergic skin disease once the trees start to pollinate. Our data indicates that the most common tree allergy is birch. This is similar to human populations.
Birch allergy is in fact an allergy to the protein in pollen of the birch tree. The pollen from birch trees can impact allergic individuals within a 30 km radius of the tree. Thus, cutting down the birch tree in your garden will have little impact on your pet’s exposure. Like most tree pollen allergies, birch allergy is seasonal and occurs in the spring, generally peaking in late April to early June.
Awareness, the absence of confounding conditions such as parasites, infections and food allergies combined with the seasonality of flair ups should raise suspicion of allergic skin disease, this can be confirmed with serum or intradermal testing.
Avoidance is always the best intervention. Pollen avoidance strategies can dramatically impact your treatment success.
When pollen counts are high:
- Plan outdoor activity with pets after 10 a.m., when pollen counts are lower. Weather events that stir up pollen in the air (like thunderstorms) are linked to increased severity of atopic disease symptoms.
- Keep your car and house windows closed.
- Use air conditioning in cars and homes.
- Wipe your pets down with a wet cloth after being outdoors. This physically removes pollen from their coat. Allergens are absorbed mainly through your pets coat and skin.
Action, symptom flare ups can be treated with medications, the only treatment that treats the underlying atopic condition is immunotherapy such as Allerpaws.
Here is a link to a great article by Jennifer Van Evra on dust mites. A need to know for anyone suffering from allergies or treating patients who do.