Medicines for Treating Atopic Dermatitis

Unfortunately, there is no medication that can cure your pet’s AD. However, there are medications available to help manage the symptoms of the condition. Every dog will respond differently to the various drug options available. Using medication to manage AD usually involves a process of trial and error, so be patient and collaborate with your vet to find out what works best for your pet. The cost, side effects, and effectiveness of each option will differ and can be discussed with your vet. Your dog’s general health status will also influence which drug your vet recommends, so be sure to update them on your pet’s health.

Here are the medications your vet may suggest. Click on each to read more about how and why that medication works, and find links to further information.

Steroids e.g. Prednisolone and Betamethasone

  • Brand names: Prednicare
  • Steroids suppress the immune system, which helps to reduce inflammation. There are injectable, oral, and topical steroids available for AD.
  • The steroid and formulation your vet recommends will depend on how severe your dog’s AD is.
  • If your dog also has Cushing’s (link), they may only be able to provide a topical steroid.

Oclacitinib e.g Apoquel

  • Brand names: Apoquel
  • Apoquel inhibits the inflammatory enzymes JAK-1, which helps to reduce itch and inflammation. It works quickly and relieves itch

Cyclosporine eg Atopica and others

  • Brand names: Atopica, Cyclovance, Modulis, Sporimune
  • This is an immune-modulatory drug that reduces itch and inflammation.

Lokivetmab eg Cytopoint

  • Brand names: Cytopoint
  • Cytopoint is a monoclonal antibody that binds an inflammatory molecule called IL-31. This helps to reduce skin itch and inflammation. It’s given by injection once a month or so, and can quickly suppress symptoms of allergic dermatitis.

Pic of Cytopoint working

Antihistamines

There is very little evidence to suggest that antihistamines are effective in managing AD. However, they have been shown to relieve itch in some dogs with AD (18%) and are a cheap and safe option so your vet may add them to your dog’s treatment plan to see if they work.

Antibiotics

AD can lead to a secondary bacterial infection, which is extremely itchy. In this case, antibiotics may be used to help clear up these infections. Your vet may perform tests first to see if there is a secondary infection. A culture and sensitivity test helps your vet to determine whether there is antibiotic resistance, which is common in dogs who have AD.

Remember, you will not be able to get any veterinary medications without a prescription! If your pet’s AD does not improve or they experience side effects whilst on these medications, contact your vet to alter the treatment plan.