Helping Your Goldendoodle Overcome Atopic Dermatitis

goldendoodle puppy sitting on grass

Goldendoodle: The Lovable Canine

The Goldendoodle dog breed is a mix of the Golden Retriever and Poodle. They are low-shedding dogs, thanks to their poodle ancestry. Their popularity has grown due to their loyal, playful, and intelligent natures. They are friendly, sociable, and outgoing, the perfect combination for any family. Caring for a Goldendoodle may require some finesse, as they could be prone to skin conditions. Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease that the Golden Retriever dog breed may be genetically predisposed to. This means descendants like the Goldendoodle could be at risk of developing these skin problems. For a more critical understanding of what atopic dermatitis is, let’s review the definition and the signs and treatments for it.

Skin Conditions: What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Canine atopic dermatitis, AD, CAD, or “atopy” is a common canine skin allergy. Research has shown this issue is usually an inherited one, in which certain canines are genetically predisposed to developing allergic dermatologic symptoms from exposure to common allergens. According to Merck Veterinary Manual, Golden Retrievers are prone to atopy, and it’s something to consider if your Goldendoodle is experiencing skin allergies.

The age of onset for dermatologic allergic reactions can begin as early as six months to three years. Early cases may be so mild that it’s not unheard of for dog-owners not to be concerned over small patches of irritated skin. Nevertheless, Goldendoodles can gradually develop AD or skin conditions as they age due to over-reacting immune system response. Some cases can be triggered by trauma to the skin, immune system, nervous system, or severe illness or injury.

Underlying Causes for Atopic Dermatitis

Although there is a genetic predisposition for atopic dermatitis, there are various reasons atopy can become a problem for your Goldendoodle. There are several root causes, and your Goldendoodle may only be sensitive to one or two of them. In hyper-sensitive cases, they could be prone to allergic reactions from every type of cause. Food sensitivities, chemical contact, or airborne allergies are common triggers for allergic reactions. Insects or bacteria are also typical causes of atopic dermatitis.

goldendoodle puppy standing in grass

Parasites

Fleas, ticks, and mites are known as ectoparasites, and they play a common role in atopic dermatitis. Flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD, is a severe allergic reaction to a flea bite. It causes excessive itching and painful skin wounds, leading to secondary skin infections if not treated promptly. Other signs of atopic dermatitis from FAD include hair loss, skin inflammation, scabbing, odorous lesions, and darkening and/or thickening of the affected skin. If you notice crusty or oozing sores, act quickly as these could be a sign of hot spots, which are extremely painful lesions that tend to spread rapidly.

Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, and demodectic mange, also known as Demodex, is a skin disease caused by mites. Sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabies mite and is highly contagious. Symptoms begin to appear around ten days to eight weeks after contact from another dog with scabies. Signs of sarcoptic mange include intense itchiness, thick, yellowish crusts, redness or rash, hair loss, and bacterial or yeast infections. Sarcoptic mange can spread quickly and be transmitted to other household pets and humans. Demodectic mange is not considered contagious and is caused by the Demodex Canis mite. These mites are usually transmitted from the canine’s mother, are always present on the dogs’ skin, and are normally harmless. However, suppose your Goldendoodle is prone to atopic dermatitis and is sensitive to allergens and bug bites. In that case, this could indicate their immune system isn’t equipped to handle trouble from this particular mite. Signs of atopic dermatitis due to demodectic mange include localized patches of red, scaly skin, and hair loss. In severe cases, the canine’s entire body could lose hair because their skin is covered in scaling, crustiness, swelling, redness, and infections.

Other bugs to watch out for are mosquitos, spiders, lice, blackflies, deerflies, horseflies, ants, bees, hornets, and wasps. Bites and detritus from these insects can cause atopic dermatitis or other dermal diseases for your allergy-sensitive Goldendoodle.

Bacterial Hypersensitivity

If your Goldendoodle is sensitive to allergens and is prone to atopic dermatitis, either from flea allergies or airborne allergies, it could have bacterial hypersensitivity. This means their immune system tends to overreact to normal bacteria that is found on their skin. The dermal tissue of all canines has a unique microbiome of bacteria and fungi, which typically doesn’t impact their health. An example of bacterial hypersensitivity is when a dog has skin allergies; it contributes to getting CAD because of Demodectic mange from typical skin mites. Other bacteria living on the skin include staphylococcus. Even viruses have been found in the canine microbiome. When your Goldendoodle suffers from bacterial hypersensitivity, they might be more prone to developing a staph infection or AD due to the dermal tissue’s natural microbiota.

Research reveals a difference in a canine’s overall health based on their dermal and subcutaneous microbiome. Dogs with a rich mix of bacterial, fungal, and viral skin microbiota tend to have less risk of developing immune sensitivities such as CAD. Canines with a skin microbiota that lacks a diverse mix of these bacterial micro-organisms are more prone to immune sensitivities and allergies.

goldendoodle dog laying on couch

Food, Contact, and Seasonal Allergies

It can be challenging to figure out if your Goldendoodle has food allergies. Especially if the symptoms aren’t initially prevalent. Over time, food allergies can manifest as gut issues, such as stomach aches, diarrhea or colitis, or loss of appetite. On the surface, food allergies can cause skin conditions such as atopy or chronic dandruff, flakiness, itching, or constant licking or chewing of the paws. If your Goldendoodle is constantly scratching, it could lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infections. It could increase the risk of ear infections, or hot spots can develop around the areas they constantly scratch, lick, or chew at.

Contact allergies occur when your Goldendoodle’s sensitive skin comes in contact with soaps, perfumes, detergents, cleaning products, and other types of chemicals. The skin can show instant irritation from contact with the chemical, or it can happen gradually. For example, you spray your canine’s cuddle bed with your favorite de-odorizing spray, only to discover after several weeks of using it, your Goldendoodle develops skin rashes.

Atopic dermatitis can be seasonal, and symptoms include itching, redness, or inflammation of the skin around the groin, face, paws, or underarms. If dermal damage doesn’t appear right away, then you may notice sneezing, coughing, itchy, watery eyes, and a runny nose.

Atopic Dermatitis and Your Goldendoodle’s Well Being

The Goldendoodle is an affectionate and sociable dog breed, but if you notice a change in their behavior, they could be under stress. Atopic dermatitis and other skin disorders can be causing them mild to severe pain. When animal companions are in pain, they may not want to play or interact with people much. Keep an eye on their skin and coat health, the first areas affected by skin conditions. This dog breed typically has longer hair that can be a mix of curly, wavy, or straight. If their coating starts to look dull or you notice hair loss, inspect their skin for any signs of atopy. Mild to severe skin disorders can cause anxiety and stress for your doggo. Their well-being is based on three factors: physical, mental, and emotional health. Any health conditions they endure will only worsen if they’re in a state of heightened stress and anxiety. While treating their skin disorders, keep their stress and anxiety low by treating them to calming zen chews and a comfortable cuddle bed. Atopic dermatitis may impact their well-being, but life-long skin allergies can be easily managed.

goldendoodle swimming in pool

Life Expectancy When Living With Atopic Dermatitis

A Goldendoodle’s lifespan is between ten and fifteen years. Even if they suffer from skin sensitivities, they can still live a long and happy life. Regardless of the cause, skin disorders can be managed with proper treatment. If you fail to follow an effective treatment plan or ignore the problem, your household pet may continue to traumatize their itchy skin by scratching, chewing, or licking at it. This can lead to secondary health issues, such as infection, alopecia, scaling, or erythema. Not only will they be in constant mild to severe pain, but infections of any kind can gradually or rapidly spread. This may impact their life expectancy, so it’s highly recommended you seek veterinary care if you notice coat or skin health issues.

Furthermore, if your Goldendoodle suffers from skin allergies, they could be more sensitive to certain allergens that can trigger anaphylaxis. If you see this severe allergic reaction, waiting too long to seek medical attention can cause death.

What Are the Signs of Atopic Dermatitis?

Allergies can happen anytime throughout the year and can be seasonal or last year-round. Seasonal flare-ups can be challenging to manage, especially when your Goldendoodle experiences allergies during different parts of the year. For example, your lively doggo will be fine through the winter but develop itchy, watery eyes and sinus issues once spring hits. Or, they can be healthy through the spring, but once the warmer summer weather sets in, their skin constantly itches. Allergies, such as atopic dermatitis, can last all year long, and paying close attention to your Goldendoodle’s skin and coat health will make it easier to recognize the symptoms.

goldendoodle puppy sitting in snow

Itching

Pruritis is one of the common signs of atopic dermatitis. Pruritis isn’t a disease. It’s simply the medical term for itching, which is a typical sign in various skin conditions. Pruritis can progress, and as your Goldendoodle continues to scratch, chew, or lick at the irritated areas, you might notice red or inflamed skin. Scratching, chewing, and licking can result in a skin infection known as pyoderma. Once an infection takes root and they continue to pick at their skin, it might begin to develop scabs, scaling, raw or bleeding areas, and spotty hair loss.

Other Common Symptoms of CAD

If you notice a yeasty smell emanating from your Goldendoodle’s skin or around their ears, this could be a sign of atopic dermatitis. If they scratch, rub, or lick around their eyes, ears, feet, underbelly, muzzle, armpits, groin, the base of the tail, paws, or in-between their toes, it’s time to inspect these areas for signs of atopy. Any patches of skin that seem red, tough, thick, greasy, overly dry, or too moist warrant a closer look as well.

Anaphylaxis or Severe Allergic Reaction

Anaphylactic shock is a serious allergic reaction and can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis is an acute allergic reaction, meaning it can happen suddenly and become severe within a matter of minutes. There are various triggers for this type of severe allergic reaction, including but not limited to bug bites (venomous and non-venomous), medications, vaccines, certain foods, as well as extreme weather changes (hot or cold). Excessive exercise routines can also heat the internal organs and trigger a canine heat stroke or a strong allergic reaction.

goldendoodle puppy sitting in bucket

Care and Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis

Since atopic dermatitis is a lifelong medical condition with no definitive cure, developing routine care and treatment is a must. Addressing the symptoms as soon as you recognize them can make a difference in their recovery time. Your Goldendoodle’s quality of life can also improve if preventative measures are taken to decrease the risk of exposure to certain allergens. Consulting with your veterinarian should be one of the first steps to finding answers for your animal companion’s skin and coat issues.

Medications

Antibiotics, antifungals, and antihistamines are all medications your veterinarian may prescribe to treat secondary skin infections from atopic dermatitis or comparable skin allergies. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to treat itching and inflammation.

Hypoallergenic Diets

When food allergies are considered the causal factor in AD or skin diseases, formulating a healthy diet that is hypoallergenic can significantly improve your Goldendoodle’s quality of life. There is no universal hypoallergenic nutritional plan for canines because every dog has a unique gut microbiome, and disrupting that balance will negatively impact their digestive health. Eliminating certain foods based on their long-term nutritional history can help you determine if your Goldendoodle has an aversion or allergy to something. Foods to consider as causes for food allergies commonly include protein sources such as dairy, chicken, red meats, fish, soy, chicken eggs, or wheat.

goldendoodle puppy sitting on blanket

Parasite Prevention

Take every precaution necessary to rid the living environment of any fleas, ticks, mites, or insects that your Goldendoodle is sensitive to. Even after playing outside or interacting with other animals, it’s best practice to take the time and look over your pooch’s skin and hair for any bugs trying to settle in.

Environmental Aids

Taking your Goldendoodle for their daily walk is necessary to keep them physically fit; however, if they suffer from atopic dermatitis due to seasonal allergies, getting them outdoors should depend on the allergen forecast. You can track outdoor allergens in your local area using online resources that detect natural pollen, similar airborne allergens, or hazardous chemicals. Avoiding airborne allergens whenever possible will positively impact your sweet doggo’s overall health. If indoor allergens are cause for concern, investing in an air purifier and possibly installing an air conditioner will help keep airborne allergens in check.

Medicated Baths

The Goldendoodle has a beautiful coating that requires attentive grooming practices. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe a medicated shampoo for your Goldendoodle’s current outbreak of atopy. A hypoallergenic or medicated soap may be suggested if their skin is prone to certain ingredients in common canine shampoos and conditioners.

goldendoodle puppy with tennis ball

Vitamin Supplements

Your veterinarian will take a closer look at your Goldendoodle’s immune strength and overall health. They may recommend various vitamin supplements to strengthen any immune or vitamin deficiencies. Vitamins can also help strengthen the health of their skin and coating. Most, if not all, vitamins and minerals should come from a canine’s diet. However, that can be difficult to achieve if your pup has dietary restrictions.

Help Your Goldendoodle Live a Fulfilling Life

Your Goldendoodle may suffer from atopic dermatitis for life, but their longevity is dependent on their overall health. This means ensuring they lead a physically fit life with nutritional foods and an allergen-free and stress-free living environment. The Goldendoodle dog breed loves to socialize and making sure those emotional needs are met requires plenty of social interaction with humans and other animals. For example, take your dog to a public park or dog park where interaction with other people and dogs is unavoidable. These trips are great for your Goldendoodle’s emotional, mental, and physical health, but it also exposes immune-sensitive canines to potential allergens. Periodically checking on their skin and coat health should include routinely bathing, cleaning, and grooming them following any social gathering. Remember, skin conditions like CAD can be temporary, chronic, or stress-related. Keep your precious Goldendoodle anxiety and stress-free by investing in effective canine calming products that will improve their quality of life.

 

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