Atopic dermatitis (atopy) is a reaction to environmental allergens: either seasonal (such as pollen, moulds, grasses) or all year round (such as house dust mites). It affects some breeds much more than others. It may run in family lines. Bedlingtons are regularly seen with skin issues, despite not being one of the most commonly affected breeds.
Dogs with atopy generally have itchy skin, usually worst on the paws, ears, under the abdomen and armpits. Sometimes just one area (ears or feet) may be affected. Licking can stain the fur brown and scratching make the skin sore and open to secondary infection.
Adverse Food Reaction (food allergies) and flea allergies cause similar symptoms. Vets generally perform tests and treat any parasites present to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment for atopy often includes a special diet, medication to stop the itch and skin supplements. Sometimes it is possible to de-sensitise the allergic reaction, but this a quite complicated. Atopy can affect a dog’s quality of life, sometimes severely. With treatment, dogs with atopy can usually live a long and happy life.