By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that can affect both dogs and cats. Like humans with similar allergy issues, it’s caused by an allergic reaction from a substance that was inhaled such as dust, pollen from trees, flowers, weeds or grass, dust mites or tobacco smoke. Usually this occurs in dogs between one and three years of age and can sometimes be hereditary, although it can occur in almost any dog or cat.

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis include excessive scratching, itching, biting or licking especially in the areas of the face, ears, and paws, also on the chest, under the arm areas. Other symptoms include head shaking, discolored areas of the skin, and/or red inflamed, swollen, scaly patches of skin. Poor diet can also contribute to this problem.

Once your pet is diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian, keep all exposure to these allergens to a minimal to prevent future flare-ups. And always feed your dog and cat a high quality diet.

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