Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common chronic relapsing pruritic skin disease of dogs for which treatment has varied over time and geographical location. Recent high quality randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews have established which drugs are likely to offer consistent benefit. The International Task Force for Canine AD currently recommends a multi-faceted approach to treat dogs with AD. Acute flares should be treated with a combination of nonirritating baths and topical glucocorticoids, once an attempt has been made to identify and remove the suspected causes of the flare. Oral glucocorticoids and antimicrobial therapy must be added when needed. In dogs with chronic AD, a combination of interventions should be considered. Again, factors that trigger flares of AD must be identified and, if possible, avoided. Currently recognized flare factors include food, flea and environmental allergens, Staphylococcus bacteria and Malassezia yeast. Skin and coat hygiene and care must be improved by bathing with nonirritating shampoos and dietary supplementation with essential fatty acids. The severity of pruritus and skin lesions can be reduced with a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs. Currently, medications with good evidence of high efficacy include topical and oral glucocorticoids, and calcineurin inhibitors such as oral ciclosporin and topical tacrolimus. The dose and frequency of administration of these drugs should be tailored to each patient considering each drug's efficacy, adverse effects and cost. Allergen-specific immunotherapy should be offered, whenever feasible, in an attempt to prevent recurrence of clinical signs upon further exposure to environmental allergens to which the patient is hypersensitive.