Allergic dermatitis is among the most common skin disease seen in private veterinary practice. It is a genetic disease, technically referred to as atopic dermatitis, in which the dog or cat becomes sensitized to environmental proteins called allergens. The most common symptoms are inflammation and itching.

Natural treatments include orthomolecular therapy, omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy natural diet and topical decontamination with frequent hypoallergenic shampooing and conditioning. This shampooing removes foreign proteins from the skin and coat of allergic animals, and can relieve itching. Those with aloe vera and colloidal oatmeal are usually tried first and work best if pet is bathed frequently.

Conventional therapies rely on corticosteroids and antihistamines. While corticosteroids are very effective they have both short and long-term side effects.

Antihistamines represent the second class of medications that is often recommended to decrease itching. A number of studies have shown the effectiveness of various antihistamines in treating allergies in pets. Response has been variable, with anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of dogs and cats showing clinical improvement.

Antihistamines are not nearly as effective as corticosteroids. This is because antihistamines function to block the histamine receptors on cells in the body, whereas corticosteroids function to prevent the formation of prostaglandins and other chemicals that cause itching as well as stabilize allergy cells to prevent them from