With at least 10 per cent of dogs suffering from Canine atopic dermatitis (cAD), The Itchy Dog Project, launched by veterinary researchers from The University of Nottingham, is looking to “investigate the potential genetic and environmental causes of canine atopic dermatitis”. It is hoped the research will give vets a better understanding of what leads some dogs to develop cAD as opposed to those who don’t, which would be the basis to develop a strategy aiming to reduce the number of dogs affected by this disease.

In order to do more than just scratching the surface, the project is now focusing on two of the most affected breeds – Labrador and Golden Retriever. And in order to do this, help from owners of these breeds is crucial. Eligible dogs are purebreds of either breed, with or without skin problems, aged over three years.

“We need your help to collect data on both atopic and non-atopic dogs’ of these breeds to allow us to look for differences (genetic, environmental and behavioural) between atopic and non-atopic dogs,” a statement reads. “So if you own a labrador or golden retriever (itchy or not!) please get involved!”


You can register your dog and take the initial survey here. You may be asked to provide a DNA sample of your dog at a later date, which will be done through a quick and painless saliva swab.

The research is funded by Dogs Trust as part of their Canine Welfare research grants. Runa Hanaghan, Deputy Veterinary Director of the Dogs Trust, said, “Canine atopic dermatitis can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing for dogs so we’re pleased to support this research and play a key role in aiming to reduce the number of Golden Retrievers and Labradors who suffer from the condition. We look forward to seeing the results and how they’re taken forward to shape future preventative treatment.”


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