Disease and Illnesses of dogs – Skin Disease - Atopic dermatitis - Atopica

What is Atopica?

Atopica is a drug which is used to control chronic atopic dermatitis or “atopy” which is skin disease where the animal has a propensity to develop allergic skin problems. Atopica contains the active ingredient cyclosporine and comes in packs of 15 small soft capsules of varying sizes. Atopica is initially given once a day orally on an empty stomach. Atopica is produced by Novartis Animal Health Ltd.

What is Atopica used for?

Atopica is used to treat atopic dermatitis, a form of allergic skin disease. Animals with atopy develop allergies to all sorts of things in their environments, ranging from food to plants to insects and parasites. The active ingredient in Atopica is a drug called cyclosporine and this is an immunomodulator. This means that it acts to alter the immune system to stop it over-reacting to these allergens. Cyclosporine is different to other drugs that alter the immune system as it has an action specific to the skin and does not act on the rest of the body. This minimises side effects. Atopica can be combined with other agents such as shampoos like Malaseb and essential fatty acid supplements such as Efavet to help control the skin disease.

Atopica Tips

  • Only use Atopica as advised to do so by your vet
  • Atopica is initially given once daily
  • Atopica is given orally
  • Atopica should be given on an empty stomach or 2 hours before or after food
  • If you suspect any side effects from Atopica then contact your vet for advice
  • Atopica can be used with other agents, such as shampoo, to control skin disease
  • If you accidentally overdose your pet with Atopica then call the vet for advice
  • Atopica is available as soft capsules in 4 different sizes
  • The dose of Atopica is based on your pet’s weight so weigh them regularly

Side Effects

  • Atopica can have side effects, most are mild and transient
  • The most common side effects of Atopica are vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Treatment with Atopica doesn’t need to be stopped in these cases
  • Other effects can include anorexia, hair/coat changes, muscle weakness, swollen ears and overgrowth of gums.
  • More severe side effects will usually resolve once treatment is stopped.
  • Do not stop treatment with Atopica without first consulting your vet.
  • Atopica shouldn’t be used in animals under 2kg or less than 6 months of age
  • Atopica should not be used in pregnant or lactating animals
  • Atopica should be used with care in animals with kidney disease

Dosage and Administration

  • The daily dose of Atopica is initially given once daily on an empty stomach
  • Atopica is available in soft capsules in 4 sizes – 10mg, 25mg, 50mg and 100mg
  • The initial dose is based on your pet’s bodyweight
  • Atopica is given daily until improvement is seen, usually after about 4 weeks
  • If no improvement is seen after 8 weeks of treatment with Atopica, it is stopped
  • Once the allergic skin disease in under control, the dose of Atopica can be reduced
  • Do not change the dose of Atopica without first checking with your vet
  • The dose of Atopica is initially reduced to every other day, then every 3-4 days
  • Treatment with Atopica can be stopped if the skin disease is under control

Further Information about Atopica

Atopica is a drug that is used to control chronic atopic dermatitis or allergic skin disease. It is manufactured by Novartis Animal Health Ltd and comes as soft capsules of 10mg, 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. The dose will depend on your pet’s weight. Atopica is a POM-V drug which means it can only be obtained from or with a prescription from the vet looking after your pet.

The active ingredient of Atopica is cyclosporine which is a drug that modulates the immune system. Cyclosporine is a selective immunosuppressor which works on a part of the immune system called T lymphocytes. This causes some immune reactions in the skin to be blocked which stops it over-reacting to certain stimuli. This reduces or stops the inflammation and itching (pruritus) associated with allergic skin disease.

Atopica can have side effects but these can be minimised by administering the drug correctly; orally on an empty stomach. The most common side effects are gastro-intestinal upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea. These are usually mild and will resolve with continued treatment. Atopica can have more severe side effects such as overgrowth of gums, anorexia, hair/ coat changes, muscle weakness and inflamed swollen ears and these will resolve once treatment is stopped.

Atopica should not be used in pregnant or lactating animals, animals under 2kg or under 6 months of age of animals with malignant disease of diabetes mellitus. Atopica should be used with care in animals with pre existing liver or kidney disease.

Animals on treatment with Atopica should not be vaccinated with a live vaccine whilst on treatment. Other types of vaccine are available but you should let your vet know when booking the vaccination that your pet is on Atopica.

Further information about Dosage and Administration

The dose of Atopica depends on bodyweight and the initial dose is 5mg Atopica per kilogram of body weight. Atopica comes as soft coloured capsules in the following sizes:

10mg – yellow and white capsules                                                                                                               

25mg – blue and grey capsules                                                                                                                                 

50mg – yellow and white capsules                                                                                                                 

100mg – blue and grey capsules

Atopica is given orally on an empty stomach once daily. Once an improvement in the skin disease is seen the dose of Atopica can be reduced. This usually happens after about 4 weeks. If no improvement is seen within 8 weeks then treatment should be stopped. The dose of Atopica will initially be reduced to one capsule every other day and if the skin disease remains stable the dose of Atopica can be reduced further to one capsule every 3-4 days. Long term treatment can be stopped if the skin disease resolves, and if the clinical signs then recur, treatment can be restarted at the higher dose rate of one capsule daily. Atopica can be given in conjunction with other products to help control skin disease such as essential fatty acid supplements like Efavet and shampoos such as Malaseb. Not all medications are compatible with Atopica however so you should let your vet know if your pet is taking any other medications and supplements before starting treatment with Atopica.

If you suspect any side effects from treatment with Atopica then you should contact your vet as soon as possible. The most common side effects are discussed above. Equally if you suspect your pet has received an overdose of Atopica then also contact your vet. No adverse effects have been seen after a one off overdose but long term it could result in thickened skin and changes in the white blood cells.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What does Atopica do?                                                                                                                        

A. Atopica moderates the immune system to help treat atopic dermatitis or allergic skin disease.

Q. How is Atopica given?                                                                                                                                                      

A. Atopica capsules are given orally on an empty stomach.

Q. How often is Atopica given?                                                                                                                                   

A. Atopica is initially given once daily but the dose can be tapered once the skin problems are under control. This reduction in dose will be advised by your vet.

Q. How long will my pet need to be on Atopica?                                                                                                         

A. Atopica can be stopped if the skin problems are controlled for a long period of time on a low dose of Atopica but this is likely to take several months and treatment cannot be stopped in all cases.

Q. How often will I need to recheck with the vet?                                                                                                         

A. Initially regular checks are essential to ascertain the correct dose of medication, usually monthly but this can be extended to every 6 months if your pet is doing well.

Q. If my pet’s skin seems well controlled should I reduce the dose?                                                                        

A. The dose can be reduced but you should not do this without first checking with your vet.

Q. I think my dog is having side effects from Atopica. Should I stop treatment?                                            

A. Atopica can have mild side effects but these usually resolve without stopping treatment. If you suspect side effects, call your vet for advice.

Q. Is it ok to start other skin supplements whilst my pet is on Atopica?

A. Some other products used to control allergic skin disease can work well with Atopica but not all medications are suitable to be used in conjunction with it so check with your vet first


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