May is Allergy Awareness Month. Many treatment options are available to help alleviate the symptoms due to allergies in dogs.
Inhalant allergies are commonly diagnosed in dogs between 1 and 3 years of age. Unlike our upper respiratory symptoms, pets become itchy when they have allergies. These symptoms are seen seasonally when trees, grass, and weed pollens are high. Golden retrievers, all terriers, Irish Setters, Lhasa Apsos, Dalmatians, and Bulldogs are genetically predisposed to this condition.
Symptoms of allergies in dogs:
- Itchy all over body – often worse in belly and groin region
- Reoccurring skin infections – bacterial or yeast
- Reoccurring ear infections
- Red and inflamed skin
There is no cure for allergies in dogs; however, there are many different treatment options available. Many times multiple treatment options are recommended for a better response.[Tweet ” There is no cure for allergies in dogs; however, there are many different treatment options available.”]
- Antihistamines: There are many different over the counter products available. Antihistamines work in about 20% of allergy in dogs. Benadryl can be given at 1mg/pound of body weight every 4-6 hours. For other antihistamines, check with your veterinarian for proper dosing.
- Bathing: Bathing helps with allergies in dogs by removing the pollen from their skin. Weekly bathing with a medicated shampoo suggested by your veterinarian is recommended. Medicated shampoos contain ingredients that help with secondary skin infections and itching.
- Steroids: When antihistamines don’t work, oral steroids are the next step. Steroids work very rapidly to treat the symptoms of allergies in dogs. However, long-term use of steroids is not recommended as it can cause other illnesses.
- Atopica: This product has proven to provide relief from itching in 74% of dogs. Unlike most of the other products, this drug directly works by targeting the cause of the disease. This is a great drug for dogs that are not responding to other treatments so ask your vet about Atopica.
- Apoquel: This is a new product from Zoetis that has just become available in 2014. It starts working in 4 hours and controls itching within 24 hours. This drug is safe to use for short and long term with minimal effects on the body.
- Topical sprays: There are many products available for dogs. These products relieve itching on contact and helps reduce allergy contact with the skin. Topical sprays need to be applied multiple times daily and have varying effects on allergies in dogs.
- Fatty acid supplements: Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are required on a daily basis and usually response is not seen until the product has been used for one month. Fatty acids help improve skin and hair coat and helps in 25% of cases.
- Diet: There are many prescription diets available for dogs with food allergies. I’m not aware of any diet specifically for inhalant allergies but many of these diets do contain fatty acids supplements and other great ingredients to help the skin.
- Allergy injections: This treatment directly targets the cause of the disease and works by desensitizing the dog to the actual allergies it is allergic too. Initially, injections must be given daily and is eventually decreased to monthly. Close monitoring is required and it may take 6-12 months before results are seen. Effective in 75% of cases.
- Sublingual therapy: This is the newest and latest approach to immunotherapy in pets. Daily oral administration is favored by many pet parents over injections. This method is safer than allergy injections. It can take 6-12 months before results are seen.