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January 25, 2010 at 1:38 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Atophy and Allergies in Dogs

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Atophy, not to be confused with atrophy, is the condition of having an allergic reaction due to the inhaling of certain products from the air. Atophy is defined as a decrease in the size of organs or tissues or a wasting away of these organs due to the presence of a certain disease, lack of use, or injury. Allergies are also a big problem for your furry little friend, and far more common. Veterinarians treat thousands of dogs and cats for skin problems and conditions every year. There are hundreds of probable causes for skin conditions in pets. The most common reason for skin problems in dogs is due to allergies.

Allergy Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

Allergy symptoms in dogs and cats will vary based on the specific allergen. The following is a list of the most common symptoms of allergies in dogs:

  • Constant scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Damaged skin
  • Rubbing of the face on carpet
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Chewing on paws
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting


Many of the allergens that cause allergic reactions in dogs are the same as allergens that cause reactions in humans. However, you should discuss the specific allergies of your pet with your veterinarian, as all dogs are different and may have different allergies. By far, the allergen most commonly treated is caused by flea bites. The following is a list of common allergens for dogs:

  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Fabrics
  • Flea bites
  • Food products (specifically processed foods)
  • Grass
  • Milk products
  • Molds
  • Plastic materials
  • Rubber materials
  • Tree pollen
  • Weed pollen

The Immune Response to Allergens

The immune system functions to produce the necessary reactions which are also known as allergies. The severity of symptoms of an allergic reaction is completely dependent upon the sensitivity of the pet to the allergen and the amount of allergen present. Put simply, the allergens are ingested, inhaled, or in contact with the body. This contact creates a response that involves the presence of a specific protein known as immunoglobulin E (IgE). Once this protein has been created, it commonly attaches itself to mass cells of tissues within the skin. It is this attachment that is cause for the release of irritating chemicals by the body, the most commonly known as histamine. The protein immunoglobulin E is very specific, which explains the reason as to why allergies are also very specific. Allergic responses are commonly caused by a false alarm to the presence of harmless agents. Dogs are particularly susceptible to allergic reactions occurring within the skin.

Allergies and Genetics

While the exact reasons for the development of an allergy remain unknown, it is theorized that allergies are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is possible that your dog may not show symptoms of allergies for a long period of time before the allergy develops. There are certain breeds of dogs that are more susceptible to the development of allergies.The majority of pet allergies are developed between the ages of one and three. However, these allergies may present themselves earlier or later, depending on the time of exposure to the allergen.


Photo Credit: Diamondduste

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