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Atopic dermatitis (AD) in dogs is a common skin disease characterised by an immunoglobulin E-mediated intolerance to environmental allergens, such as pollens, mites, moulds or other comparable substances, due to a genetic predisposition and further as yet unknown trigger factors.1,2 Affected animals frequently suffer from pruritus, recurrent skin or ear infections and their resulting lesions, including erythema, pustules, alopecia and hyperpigmentation. AD affects the quality of life of the animals and also that of their owners.3,4
Currently, the only available therapy aimed at tackling the underlying cause of AD – ‘hyposensitisation’ or ‘immunotherapy’ – can be long-winded and frustrating as it is not successful in every patient. Effective symptomatic therapeutics are often linked to adverse reactions.5,6 Steroids are the most commonly used medication because they are effective in most patients, comparatively cheap, fast-acting and (in the case of depot preparations) long-lasting. However, they tend to cause side effects, including polyuria, polydipsia and weakness.6 Alternative medications, such as cyclosporine, antihistamines and essential fatty acids, are either not effective, require administration for several days to weeks before any effect is seen, or cause adverse effects.6–9
A recent ‘revolution’ in symptomatic treatment of canine AD following elucidation of the influence of interleukin-31 (IL-31),10 has led to the …
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