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Canine atopic dermatitis — the veterinary ‘eczema’ nurse

02 July 2019
10 mins read
Volume 10 · Issue 6


In human medicine many NHS hospitals employ ‘eczema specialist’ nurses. These are nurses with additional training that help individuals diagnosed with eczema to manage their own disease and can provide them with the information and support to improve their quality of life. Veterinary nurses as part of a Vet-led Team also have the opportunity to help their clients in a similar way, by advising owners on the best way to manage their allergic pets. In order to provide that support nurses need a thorough grounding in many of the supplementary therapies that can be prescribed by veterinary surgeons as part of a multi-modal approach to allergic skin disease. Supplementary drugs that can be added into a treatment regimen with foundation drugs such as allergen specific immunotherapy, ciclosporine, glucocorticoids, lokivetmab and oclacitinib include drugs such as antihistamines, essential fatty acids and topical therapy in the form of moisturisers.

Pruritic skin disease is a common and frustrating problem encountered in primary care veterinary practice. One report by Hill (2006) indicated that pruritic skin disease accounted for 30–40% of dermatological problems in first opinion practice. Veterinary nurses play a dual role in the management of pruritic skin disease, to both help with the investigative process and also to advise owners on supplementary therapy that can help to make their pet more comfortable. While the presence of ectoparasites and infection are important causes of pruritus in the dog, once these and a food allergy (now more accurately referred to as cutaneous adverse food reactions, CAFR) have been ruled out, a diagnosis of atopic dermatitis can be made by exclusion. Canine atopic dermatitis (CAD) has been shown to affect the quality of life of both dog and owner (Linek and Favrot, 2010), not just because of the intense irritation that many dogs suffer with CAD, but because of the chronic nature of the disease and the tendency for dogs to have repeated relapses even though they may appear to be well controlled for long periods. The author is a strong advocate of veterinary nurse dermatology clinics to help support owners and manage their pet's skin disease.

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