What does this mean for the owner of a dog with AD? While some dogs do require oral medications, your first line of attack may be a more superficial one: weekly or even daily baths and topical “leave-ons” that are designed to repair the skin’s barrier defect.
One obstacle to this simple therapy is that many pet owners believe that frequent bathing will dry out a dog's skin, and thus make his itching worse.
"That's a widespread misconception, and I wish it wasn't still out there," said board-certified veterinary dermatologist Dr. John Plant. "We know that bathing removes allergens and infectious agents like bacteria and yeast, and helps restore epidermal function in humans. Can it do the same in dogs? It's a bit unclear, but I've observed it helps a lot with my atopic patients. Some can even be controlled that way alone."
That's not to say that bathing and rinsing will fix everything. Some dogs, and some skin conditions, absolutely do need oral medications. But if you’re struggling with the itching and infections of atopic dermatitis in your pet, suds and not drugs may be just what the doctor ordered.