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Canine atopic dermatitis is among the most common causes of pruritus of dogs. Management is multimodal with an emphasis on minimizing flares, maximizing relief of clinical signs, and providing a good quality of life for dogs and owners.

In this open-label clinical trial, 160 dogs with nonseasonal atopic dermatitis and pruritus were treated for 8 weeks with ultramicronized palmitoylethanolamide (PEA). PEA, a naturally occurring bioactive lipid, has documented anti-inflammatory properties and is produced in response to stress and tissue damage. Owners assessed pruritus via a 10-cm visual analog scale and quality of life with a validated questionnaire. Veterinarians assessed inflammation and lesions using the Canine Atopic Dermatitis Lesion Index (CADLI). Dogs were evaluated on days 0, 28, and 56, with a midstudy telephone evaluation on day 15.

Nearly half of treating clinicians rated overall effectiveness of PEA as good or excellent.

Of 160 enrolled dogs, 122 completed the study. At the study’s end, 71/122 dogs showed ≥2 cm reduction in pruritus on the visual analog scale, which translated to a 58% treatment success rate, with 30% decreasing to a normal level of pruritus. Mean quality of life score was significantly improved, with >45% of dogs having values corresponding to a healthy dog. Mean CADLI scores were decreased significantly in 62% of dogs; lesions gradually decreased. Nearly half of treating clinicians rated overall effectiveness as good or excellent. There were 11 adverse events reported. The individual daily dose was 10.9 mg/kg.


PEA is the subject of a wide range of clinical trials for various diseases. One area of intense research is PEA use in treating neuropathic pain and inflammation. PEA use in veterinary medicine is also being explored. The product in this study is not available in the United States; internet searches link to sites outside the United States or to supplements in which it is among many ingredients. It is important to note that this was an open-label study; until PEA efficacy is proven via well-designed clinical trials, it is best thought of as on the horizon.—Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD

References and author information Show


Noli C, Della Valle MF, Miolo A, Medori C, Schievano C, Skinalia Clinical Research Group. Efficacy of ultra-micronized palmitoylethanolamide in canine atopic dermatitis: an open-label multi-centre study. Vet Dermatol. 2015;26(6):432-440, e101.


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