Drug hypersensitivity reactions targeting the skin in dogs and cats

K. L. Voie, K. L. Campbell, S. N. Lavergne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) can be dose dependent or idiosyncratic. Most idiosyncratic reactions are believed to be immune-mediated; such drug hypersensitivities and allergies are unpredictable. Cutaneous reactions are the most common presentation of drug allergies. In veterinary medicine it can be difficult to assess the true prevalence of adverse drug reactions, although reports available suggest that they occur quite commonly. There are multiple theories that attempt to explain how drug allergies occur, because the pathogenesis is not yet well understood. These include the (pro)-hapten hypothesis, the Danger Theory, the pi concept, and the viral reactivation theory. Cutaneous drug allergies in veterinary medicine can have a variety of clinical manifestations, ranging from pruritus to often fatal toxic epidermal necrolysis. Diagnosis can be challenging, as the reactions are highly pleomorphic and may be mistaken for other dermatologic diseases. One must rely heavily on history and physical examination to rule out other possibilities. Dechallenge of the drug, histopathology, and other diagnostic tests can help to confirm the diagnosis. New diagnostic tools are beginning to be used, such as antibody or cellular testing, and may be used more in the future. There is much yet to learn about drug allergies, which makes future research vitally important. Treatment of drug allergies involves supportive care, and additional treatments, such as immunosuppressive medications, depend on the manifestation of the disease. Of utmost importance is to avoid the use of the incriminating drug in future treatment of the patient, as subsequent reactions can be worse, and ultimately can prove fatal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-874
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of veterinary internal medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Adverse drug reaction
  • Allergy
  • Cutaneous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


Dive into the research topics of 'Drug hypersensitivity reactions targeting the skin in dogs and cats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this