Allergies in Pets: What To Know - How To Help
Spring allergies are in full bloom and your pet could be feeling the effects. While all pets will occasionally scratch, lick, or bite themselves, it should never become so persistent that it causes skin damage, sores, or hair loss. As your dog attempts to get relief, they unfortunately cause secondary infection by opening up their skin to yeast and bacterial infections. These infections typically require additional medical attention. This month we look at the causes of skin allergies and provide information on effective, long-term treatment options for your pet.
Signs of Skin Allergies
There are three main causes of skin allergies: flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies, and environmental allergens (dust, pollen, and mold). Knowing what to look for will help you limit your pet’s discomfort and excessive itching, scratching, biting, and licking. If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction.
- Itchiness - ears, eyes, skin
- Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
- Red, inflamed skin
- Chronic ear infections
- Constant licking
Keep in mind, every situation can be different. If your pet is consistently exhibiting any of these behaviors, schedule an appointment with our vets to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan. When we provide an evaluation and offer a treatment course, it is based on your pet’s specific conditions.
Of course, the ideal way to help your pet deal with allergies would be to avoid the cause altogether. However, this may not always be possible. Regular baths can help remove some allergens from the skin. Our doctors can help determine the best option that may include short-term medication use or a more long-term management approach.
Corticosteroids (“cortisone”) have been used for decades, withstanding the test of time. Corticosteroids are non-specific in their mechanism of action. Since corticosteroid receptors are in every cell, they affect all body systems. These drugs can be great at decreasing the inflammation associated with allergies, but long-term treatment is not recommended. They are more appropriate for short courses to battle flare-ups in patients that were well-controlled on another long-term allergy therapy.
So, what is safe to treat our pet’s allergic itch long term??
No single therapy is 100% effective at treating environmental allergies, but we have a couple of great options:
CYTOPOINT® is a safe, effective, long-lasting treatment for chronic itch due to allergic or atopic dermatitis
. It is an injection that is given by your veterinarian that targets itch at its source. A single CYTOPOINT injection helps relieve chronic dog itch for up to 8 weeks, making the treatment of allergic skin conditions easier for you to manage. CYTOPOINT is beneficial for dogs with owners who may not see well enough to give a pill or may forget to give it every day.
For more information on CYTOPOINT visit their website here
APOQUEL® is a daily oral tablet that starts providing itch relief within 4 hours; APOQUEL works differently than steroids. APOQUEL (also known as oclacitinib) stops allergic dogs from itching within hours, by disrupting the itch and inflammation pathway.
For more information on APOQUEL visit their website here
In addition to these core therapies, there are a few other key ingredients to managing allergies. Every allergy patient is different—different allergies, primary signs, and secondary problems—so every treatment needs to be different, too.
• Provide adequate flea control. Any allergy (e.g. flea, food, seasonal) can cause other allergies to get worse—it can kick start inflammation. So ensure that fleas are a non-issue by making sure your pets are receiving appropriate flea control.
• Eliminate infections. Eliminating infections (ear and skin) reduces itchiness and inflammation while also improving the dog’s odor and appearance. Dogs with allergies may be slower to respond to antibiotics than dogs without allergies are, so check progress after three weeks of antibiotic therapy but treat until infections are gone.
If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms associated with skin allergies (e.g. constant scratching, biting, licking, etc.), we can help! Call us at 967-7383 to schedule an appointment. Don’t let your dog suffer another day - help them find the relief they need today!
Julie Grimes, DVM