An itchy pet is one of the most common reasons a client seeks veterinary care. Allergic skin diseases can cause not only significant discomfort and distress to the individual animal but also stress and disruption to the pet’s family members. Because of the complex nature of allergic skin disease, diagnosis can be time-consuming and may require multiple follow-up visits before a final diagnosis is achieved. Patients with allergic skin disease often require lifelong management to optimize their quality of life. These guidelines offer a step-by-step approach to diagnose and manage flea allergy, food allergy, and atopy in the dog and cat.

  • Section 1 describes the steps in diagnosing the canine patient with allergic skin disease.
  • Section 2 describes initial and long-term management of canine allergic skin diseases and acute flares.
  • Section 3 addresses diagnosing allergy in the feline patient, including clinical presentations of dermatitis in cats and key differences between cats and dogs.
  • Section 4 describes initial and long-term management of feline allergic skin diseases and acute flares.
  • Section 5 provides an overview of diagnosis and treatment of allergic otitis externa.
  • Section 6 presents spectrum of care considerations for managing allergic skin diseases, including referral recommendations, telehealth, and communication tips.
  • Section 7 discusses the vital role of veterinary technicians in the management of allergic patients and how to optimize their involvement in these cases.
  • Section 8 offers key messaging points for client communication.

These guidelines are designed to simplify the path to diagnosis and management of canine and feline allergic skin diseases, while emphasizing a multimodal approach for the patient and effective client communication to ensure the best possible outcome.

The 2023 AAHA Management of Allergic Skin Diseases in Dogs and Cats Guidelines are generously supported by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Merck Animal Health, and Zoetis.

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