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Contact Dermatitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Rosanna Marsalla

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Treatment In-depth

  • The main therapy for allergic contact dermatitis consists of allergen avoidance and topical or systemic administration of cortisone-like drugs called corticosteroids. Anti-inflammatory dosages of the corticosteroid prednisone usually are used (0.25 to 0.5 milligram per pound of body weight for 5 to 7 days followed by an alternate day protocol as needed). This approach usually is sufficient to control clinical signs. Topically-administered steroids that may be beneficial include Escort® or FS Shampoo®.
  • Hyposensitization (allergy shots) has been ineffective.

  • Antihistamines and essential fatty acids are not effective in animals with contact allergy.

  • Pentoxifylline (Trental®) has been used recently to inhibit allergic contact reactions in rodents, people and dogs

  • Pentoxifylline works by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor, an important mediator of contact dermatitis.
  • Pentoxifylline works better as a preventative agent than a treatment when lesions are already present. Therapy with pentoxifylline should be started two days before exposure to the offending allergen. Pentoxifylline usually is well-tolerated and adverse effects are dose-dependent. Adverse reactions include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It also may cause flushing of the skin and tremors.

  • Secondary bacterial infections should be treated with systemic antibiotics (cephalexin 10 to 15 milligrams per pound body weight twice daily for a minimum of 3 weeks).

    Follow-up

    Complete resolution of clinical signs usually is obtained after 10 to 14 days of avoidance of the offending substance. No prevention is possible unless the offending substance has previously been identified.


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