May 27, 2020 Dermatology

Treatment Options for Canine Allergies

A dog with allergies

Treatment Options for Canine Allergies

Last week’s Ask a Vet Live was swamped with questions about itching, scratching, sneezing and runny eyes in dogs. These clinical signs may indicate allergies, especially this time of year. Pollen from all the beautiful blooming trees and flowers causes seasonal allergies in dogs, just like their human family members. Since we can’t make the trees and flowers go away, how can we make our canine friends more comfortable during the allergy season? Here are some commonly used treatments for allergies in dogs.

Reduce Allergens on the Dog

When your dog goes outdoors, pollen on the ground or grass sticks to your dog’s feet and face as they sniffle and snuffle. The location of the pollen on your dog explains the foot chewing and face rubbing associated with allergies in dogs. Simply wiping your dog’s face and feet when coming in from outside will help reduce the allergens and thus the chewing and licking. If your dog is itchy all over, a nice soothing bath will help calm the skin. If you are bathing your pet yourself, we have some tips for you.

Break the Scratch-Itch Cycle

Veterinarians sometimes use prescription medications to help manage allergies in dogs. Because one is a tablet for home administration and the other is an injection given in the clinic, we choose the one best for your dog. The injectable medication is a monoclonal antibody designed to bind up the substance responsible for itch-scratch response. The oral tablets inhibit an enzyme responsible for turning on the itch-scratch cycle. Both products are designed for safe, long term use.

Quell Inflammation

Inflammation caused by allergies is exacerbated by scratching and licking. While prednisone or other steroids can quickly relieve inflammation, steroid side effects limit their long-term use in allergy management. In dogs, steroids cause increased water drinking, increased urinations and increased appetite. Dogs on steroids patrol the house for any food they can find and pant more than normal. Antihistamines can safely be used in dogs but are rarely able to control severe allergies.

Modify the Immune System

Allergies are an overexuberant response of the immune system against a trigger like pollen, mold, dust or fleas. Retraining the immune system to turn off the triggered response has been used in allergy management for decades in the form of “allergy shots.” Allergy shots contain a small amount of the trigger substance and, when given at regular intervals, teach the immune system to ignore the trigger. AMC’s dermatologist uses both the allergy shot approach and an oral form of this therapy.

If your dog has ever had a hot spot, successful use of one of these common allergy treatments can prevent hot spots from occurring and keep your furry friend comfortable during allergy season.

Tags: allergies, Dermatology, dog allergies, dogs, veterinary dermatologist,

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