ALLERGIES IN PETS
WHAT ARE ALLERGIES?
Allergies are caused by the body’s own immune system reacting against an allergen. Pets can be allergic to their food, fleas, inhaled allergens, and contact allergens. Occasionally dogs are allergic to multiple allergens.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF ALLERGIES?
Scratching, face rubbing, ear infections, skin infections, chewing feet, vomiting, and rashes are all signs of allergies. If left untreated these will progress to hair loss, skin yeast infections, and permanent ear damage. Without finding the source of the allergy and removing it, the skin condition will continue to re-occur.
*Before Allergy treatment is started. All secondary yeast & bacterial infections must be addressed with antibiotics, antifungals and shampoos.*
- Attempt to find the source of the allergen and eliminate it or hyposensitize the patient to it. The search often is frustrating and will take time.
- Step 1- Flea control to rule out flea allergy is the first step. Apply once a month directly to the skin or oral medication with a full meal. We recommend Bravecto/Comfortis/Trifexis for allergy pets that are bathed frequently, or Activyl as a topical flea product. Frontline, Advantage and Generic flea controls do not seem to work well.
- Step 2- Food trial. This is performed with either a novel protein and carbohydrate source such as Royal Canin Rabbit & Potato formula or a food engineered with proteins and carbohydrates too small for the immune system to recognize. These are prescription diets that are made in special plants to avoid cross contamination. The food trial must be maintained for at least 8 weeks. It takes that long for the original allergen to leave the body. During the food trial, there are to be NO TREATS! These include rawhides, bones, pig’s ears, etc. If these are given to the animal, the food trial will be jeopardized. There is not an accurate blood, saliva, or skin test to detect food allergies.
ASSESMENT OF FOOD TRIAL RESULTS:
If 100% improvement is accomplished, then food is the only allergen. It could be multiple foods such as corn and beef or just one such as rice.
If some improvement is noted, but not 100%, then your pet likely has inhalant and food allergies.
If no improvement is found, then we have ruled out food as the allergen source. Now we must continue the search for the contact or inhaled allergen
- Treat the individual allergy flare ups as they occur with
- Anti-histamines – 10-15% effective
- Corticosteroids – 90% effective.
Corticosteroids have side effects if used long term. The side effects include increased food intake (leading to obesity) increased water consumption, decreased resistance to infection, increased urination, adrenal gland damage (leading to Cushing’s disease) diabetes, liver damage, kidney damage, panting, pancreatitis, and stomach ulcers. With short term use we usually only see increased water consumption and increased urination.
- Antibiotics, medicated bathes, Oral/ topical flea control, and fatty acids.
- Apoquel – 90% effective
Lifelong or seasonal use with limited side effects and is cost effective. It is fast acting and safe for the control of acute and chronic pruritus associated with allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.
- Atopica – 80%effective
Expensive & some dogs vomit when first started
- CytoPoint – 80% effective
Begins working within one day and lasts typically for 4-8 weeks but can last longer in some cases. It helps reduce clinical signs associated with atopic dermatitis in dogs. It is specifically designed to target and neutralize itch-inducing cells in canine atopic dermatitis and interrupts the itch cycle.
- Immuno therapy
- Inhaled allergen blood screen. This blood screen attempts to determine what your pet is allergic to out of 40 common Pacific Northwest allergens. Once the allergens are found, anti-allergy injections or oral serum are specifically designed for your pets’ allergen profile. Inhaled allergy testing and treatment is effective approximately 70% of the time. The cost of the allergy injections varies with the size of the dog and the number of allergens.
- RESPIT – Regionally Specific Immunotherapy. RESPIT has similar results to allergy testing, however, it is at a lower initial cost. Developed by a board certified dermatologist, RESPIT includes 20 of the most common allergies in our area.
Whether you choose treatment option 1, 2 or 3 allergies are a frustrating, expensive, and long-term problem. Please do not become discouraged if immediate results are not obtained. Often it takes several months to achieve satisfactory results. Our goal is to make your pet as comfortable as possible.