Skin Allergies (Allergic Dermatitis) - officially known as Canine atopic dermatitis (AD) - is a hereditary and chronic skin disease that is caused by environmental allergies to pollens, dust mites and molds. Unlike humans, who usually react to inhaled allergens with sneezing and congestion, dogs tend to react with skin irritation and inflammation.
Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to allergic dermatitis: West Highland White Terriers, Bichon Frise, Jack Russell Terriers, English Bulldogs etc..
The most common allergic response which results in dermatitis is caused by pollens from trees, grasses or weeds. Pollens look like a fine powder and are made up of individual grains that are under 50 microns in size (less than the width of an average human hair). Each plant has a pollinating period. These can vary depending on the plant, climate and region.
Allergy treatments can be categorized in three basic ways: avoidance and environmental controls; symptom relief; and immunotherapy (allergy drops / shots).