Living with Atopic Dermatitis: Minimising Exposure to Allergens

You’re unlikely to ever completely fix your dog’s symptoms by minimising their exposure to allergens. Allergen avoidance is often impossible, for example if your dog is allergic to pollen. However, thanks to the itch threshold it can still be worth doing what you can to manage allergen exposure.

This image shows how allergen management can make dogs more comfortable by bringing them below the itch threshold. At certain times of the year, when more allergens are around, dogs might still be itchy.

Environmental allergens

If your dog is allergic to environmental allergens (pollen and dust mites), there are many things that you can do at home to reduce the number of allergens your dog is exposed to. Some of these techniques are more effective than others.

Scroll through the images below to see some of the recommended methods to reduce environmental allergen exposure.

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Food Allergens

If your dog’s AD is due to a food allergy, it is vital to exclude this allergen from their diet. Remember, food allergies can only be diagnosed by an exclusion diet, followed by challenging with allergens until they have all been identified. Once you know for sure your pet has a food allergy, avoiding it should improve their symptoms.

There are several ways in which you can achieve this:

  • Novel protein source diets e.g. kangaroo with no ingredients your dog is allergic to
  • A hydrolysed protein diet
  • Home cooked diets and treats using non-allergens (with recipes by a veterinary nutritionist)

In addition, you’ll need to:

  • Tell other carers to not feed your dog anything other than their special diet and treats
  • Prevent bin raiding or eating dropped food at mealtimes
  • Provide enrichment to prevent stealing

True avoidance of a food allergen should reduce the severity of your dog’s AD, if food is a component of their allergy.


There are lots of things you can do to reduce your dog’s exposure to allergens. Although this isn’t likely to be enough to stop their symptoms altogether, it can reduce flare-ups. In some dogs, it may be the difference between needing a long-term medication and just needing some for flare ups once or twice a year.

Key Takeaways

Minimising allergen exposure is worth trying.