Atopica for Dogs: Usage & Side Effects

Atopica for Dogs: Usage & Side Effects

Author WDF Staff


One of the most common skin issues in our beloved dogs is hot spots. Unfortunately, dogs are prone to skin issues, especially certain breeds. You can ask any vet, and they will most likely tell you the most common reason dogs visit them is because they have some sort of skin issue. One of those issues is atopic dermatitis.

The good news is that veterinary medicine has a broad range of “weapons” to treat atop dermatitis. One of those weapons is a drug called Atopica. If your dog has hot spots and your vet prescribed this medication, you might want to know more about the drug. Dog owners want to know how effective and safe Atopica for dogs is and how fast it can help them deal with this issue. If you’re interested in this, stick with us and check out this helpful guide about Atopica for dogs.

What is atopic dermatitis in dogs?

Before we go into details about a specific medication, we need to understand what type of disease or condition that drug treats. In the case of Atopica for dogs, that condition is atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is basically an allergic reaction dogs have to harmless substances (or allergens).

Humans will most commonly react to allergens by having sniffles, red, watery eyes, sneezing, or itching. However, dogs will respond with gastrointestinal issues and skin problems. Keep in mind that atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition. It can be year-round or seasonal, and it is one of the most common reasons dogs are itchy.

VET TIP: Dogs react to allergies differently because they have a higher proportion of mast cells in their skin and GI tract. Other symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs include poor coat quality, hot spots, GI pain, self-mutilation, diarrhea, and flatulence. An allergic reaction can even play a part in chronic ear infections in dogs.

What is Atopica for dogs?

The best way to describe Atopica for dogs is - a drug that will treat skin issues in dogs. More precisely, Atopica is an immune-modulating agent that contains 11 amino acids to help dogs deal with atopic dermatitis. The active ingredient in this medication is cyclosporine, which effectively controls skin problems like inflammation, redness, itchiness, and hot spots. This is an FDA-approved drug for dogs, and it can only be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. This medication should never be used on any other species, only on dogs.

Is Atopica effective?

The first thing most dog owners want to know is whether Atopica is effective. They want to know how fast it will resolve their dog’s skin issues and the chances of recurring disease. The good news is that Atopica is considered very effective. The manufacturer, Elanco US, had to prove the drug’s effectiveness. Otherwise, the drug could not get approved.

Elanco performed a multisite, placebo-controlled, double-masked field study that included 265 dogs with atopic dermatitis. Included dogs were from different age and size groups, which means there were dogs 1 - 10 years old and weighing from 4 - 121 pounds. After 4 weeks of treatment, 74% of Atopica-treated dogs showed signs of improvement, while dogs from a placebo control group worsened by 9%.

Is Atopica for dogs safe?

The second most important question regarding Atopica for dogs is, “Is Atopica safe for dogs?” Our first instinct was - yes. Since this drug was approved by the FDA, it surely must be safe. However, there are different degrees of safety, and we wanted to learn how safe exactly this drug is and if overdoses are possible. The good news is that even if an overdose happens, the drug won’t kill the dog. Overall, Atopica can be considered a safe drug.

Side effects of Atopica for dogs

Most drugs for dogs can cause side effects, and Atopica is no different. It would be best to learn these side effects in advance, so if anything out of the ordinary happens to your dog, you can stop the treatment and call your vet. The most common Atopica for dogs side effects are;

  • Weight loss
  • Constant otitis externa (ear infection)
  • Lethargy
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Gums overgrowth
  • Polydipsia
  • Polyuria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nervousness
  • Neoplasia

VET TIP: Just because side effects are possible doesn’t mean your dog will necessarily develop them. Many side effects can be minimized if you administer the drug correctly, so make sure you follow your vet’s instructions.

Atopica for dogs dosage

One of the key things to make your dog feel better and get over their atopic dermatitis is applying the correct dosage of Atopica to your dog. Administering a larger dosage will not help the dog faster or make the drug more effective. The exact dosage should be determined by your vet, who will examine the severity of the condition and your dog’s overall physical health. However, in most cases, the initial dose of Atopica for dogs should be 1.5 - 3  mg/lb. After about 4 weeks of treatment, the vet will lower the dosage and achieve the same medical effects but with a lower dosage. This medication should be given to dogs once a day, at least two hours before a meal.

Where can I get Atopica for my dog?

The first step for getting help for your dog in the form of Atopica treatment is visiting your vet. This is a controlled medication, and only licensed vets can prescribe it. This is not an over-the-counter medication you can simply pick up, like some pain medications for humans. After your vet writes you a prescription, you can pick up the drug in your local pet pharmacy. If you prefer ordering the drug online, you can do that on Chewy’s online pharmacy.

World Dog Finder team

World Dog Finder Logo