To assess common therapies for canine atopic dermatitis (CAD), a 28-question survey was administered to owners of CAD dogs in 2 groups: dogs receiving treatment for 5 years (97 surveys), and dogs receiving treatment for 10 years (39 surveys). Several participants did not answer all questions or answered similar questions with contradictory answers. Eighty-five respondents (63%) indicated that their dog was currently receiving some medical treatment for CAD. Thirty of 90 respondents indicated that improvement in signs was observed during a dietary trial. Twenty-three of 89 (26%) clients who had administered antihistamines indicated they were effective. Forty-eight of 81 (59%) owners whose dog received oral glucocorticoids indicated they were effective. Fourteen of 37 owners (38%) whose dog received cyclosporine indicated this was effective. Allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) was used in 90 of 136 dogs, and 33 of 91 (36%) respondents indicated it was effective. While 15 owners indicated that they stopped ASIT because the dog’s allergies had resolved, only 4 of these dogs met the criteria to be considered cured. ASIT was considered to be the treatment that could induce clinical remission in this group of dogs.

Commentary
This study highlights the importance of client perceptions when considering treatments for CAD. The prevailing thought among veterinary dermatologists is that antihistamines provide little benefit in CAD treatment1; however, this study revealed that many clients believe antihistamines to be an important part of their dog’s therapy. This study also underscored the importance of dietary modification in dogs with CAD, although it was unable to conclude that dogs that improved with diet trials were truly food allergic. The challenges of client communication regarding chronic diseases such as CAD were highlighted. Owner perceptions can sometimes be contradictory, so good communication is paramount when considering treatments and outcomes.—William Oldenhoff, DVM

Source
Owner assessment of therapeutic interventions for canine atopic dermatitis: A long-term retrospective analysis. Dell DL, Griffin CE, Thompson LA, Griffies JD. VET DERMATOL 23:228-e47, 2012.

1. Interventions of atopic dermatitis in dogs: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Olivry T, Foster AP, Mueller RS, et al. Vet Dermatol 21:4-22, 2010.