Do You Think Your Pet Has Allergies?

Described as a hypersensitivity of the immune system to something your pet is exposed to in the environment or diet

Prednisone and prednisolone are utilized often in veterinary medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties and at higher doses as an immunosuppressant.  This medication is inexpensive and simple to administer, but it does come at a cost.  Side effects of patients on short term steroids include; increased hunger, increased thirst, frequent urination, panting, loss of energy and hidden infections can be unmasked (a bladder infection for example).  Pre-diabetic patients can be tipped into a diabetic state with steroid use, and the occasional dog may become aggressive, but this is rare. 

When a pet’s body comes in contact with an allergen, it releases histamines that start the allergic reactions.  Antihistamines reduce or block histamines, so they stop allergy symptoms.  Results can vary and often may not be effective in some patients.  The dose for a dog is much higher than you would use for a human so please consult your Veterinarian before using this medication.

Vanectyl P
This medication is a steroid at a low dose combined with an antihistamine.  The theory is combining both medications you can get away with a lesser dose of steroids.  You can still see common side effects of steroids with this medication but to a lesser degree. 

Atopica (cyclosporine) is a capsule that targets the immune system directly to help reduce the itching, scratching and licking.  Atopica is a systemic immunosuppressant that may increase susceptibility to infection.  This medication should not be used in dogs younger than 6 months or smaller than 4 pounds.  It is also recommended that owners wear gloves when giving this medication.

Apoquel is a unique new medication that starts to control itching within 4 hours and effectively controls itch within 24 hours.  It targets the itch signal in the nervous system and has minimal negative impact on the immune system without many of the side effects associated with other treatments.  This medication is started at a higher dose for 2 weeks then reduced to a half dose.  We do find that sometimes it will unmask an underlying skin infection and your pet may need to go on a short course of antibiotics.  We have observed a lot of success with this medication, however, it is quite expensive in comparison to other medications.  Apoquel is not to be used in pets under 12 month of age.

Serum Testing
A blood sample is collected and sent out to a lab to find out exactly what your pet is allergic to.  A serum is synthesized to administer to your pet in the form of an injection or oral drops.  This way of treating allergies is called hyposensitization.  Hyposensitization is a safe and effective long-term treatment that increases your pet’s tolerance to the offending allergens so it can live more comfortably.  This treatment is not meant for seasonal use but year-round.  Allergy testing will have the pet showing improvement up to 90% of the time, but it does take 3 – 5 months depending on the dog.

There are many options to help alleviate the symptoms of your pet’s allergies, and this can sometimes be overwhelming.  Please talk to your veterinarian, and together you can decide what will be the best way to help your pet.

We will be pleased to assist you. Contact us for more information at 613-394-4811

Written by Darlene Cannon, RVT