Categorized | Skin Care

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Itching Dog – Jack Russell Terrier

Atopic dermatitis is hereditary. This means it is carried in the genes and passed from one generation to the next. Many breeders of JRT’s will deny this is the case. Atopic dermatitis often doesn’t show up until 18 to 24 months of age. The dog is often normal until the condition manifests itself around the age of onset.

Recent developments in the understanding of atopy in Jack russell terriers has focussed on the skin barrier. Dogs with atopic dermatitis have a protein missing in this protective lipid layer. The protein is called sphingosine and is missing from the ceramide layer that binds the skin cells together forming a protective “mortar” that prevents water loss and prevents pathogens like bacteria and allergens like pollen from entering through the skin. This protective layer or barrier is “leaky”.

As a result of sphingosine deficient ceramides, the skin dries out. Atopic dogs have very dry skin which is sometimes flakey. In the early stages of the disease, the jack russell terrier will often be itchy although there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with the skin. It seems “normal”. Closer inspection may reveal “dandruff” which is really dry flakey skin in this case. This is a symptom of dry skin.

As the condition progresses, severe reddening of the skin will develop. This is particularly on the hairless parts of the body which are the feet, abdomen, groin, arm pit and the inside of the ear. Itchy bottoms and ear infections may also occur. Frequent visits to the vet are required. Steroids are the favoured prescription of veterinary surgeons because they work and they are cheap. Many Jack Russell owners are turning away from steroids and searching for natural treatment solutions.

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