dog scratchingTreating pets with allergies can be a frustrating, time-consuming, financially draining prospect.  There is no one treatment; there is no cure.  Our goal in treating allergies is to keep patients comfortable using the most affordable, minimally time consuming, treatment combination that will be the most effective in keeping itching to a tolerable level for both the patient and the owners with a minimum of side effects to the patient.

Here are the options we consider:

ð Stay Inside   Staying inside will help those dogs that are allergic to outside pollens.

ð Vacuum and Dust Weekly   This reduces housedust and the house dust mites that invade all of our homes

ð Buy Smaller Bags of Food/ Store in Airtight containers     Many dogs and cats are allergic to storage mites found in grain products.  Buying smaller bags of food will reduce the numbers of storage mites that can reproduce in your pet’s food (which your pet inhales while eating).  Your veterinarian may even recommend a strictly canned diet.

ð Shampoo/ Rinses/ Wipes     Shampooing, cool water rinsing, wiping of the face and paws physically removes dust, dust mites and pollens from your pet’s coat, reducing the amount of allergens inhaled.  Some Shampoos also help reduce the numbers of bacteria and yeast that build-up on inflamed, allergic skin. Your veterinarian will help you choose the best shampoo and conditioner for your pet’s current skin conditions.  As  your pet’s skin conditions change, so might your vet’s shampoo recommendations.  Conditioning rinses can provide prolonged anti-inflammatory relief and anti-itch effects.

Wiping your pet’s face once daily, at night, before bed, can also help reduce inhaled pollens and dust.

Having your pet walk through a foot bath, then drying his feet, especially between the pads, can be beneficial as well.  Your vet may recommend a special foot bath for this purpose.

ð Skin Support Foods     Skin Support Prescription foods are made with a minmal number of allergy- inducing ingredients, are supplemented with anti-inflammatory herbs, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, and contain no preservatives.  These can be very beneficial in animals that have “Atopy”, or inhaled allergies.  Ask your veterinarian if one might be appropriate for your pet .

ð Hydrolyzed Protein Prescription Food     Truly Hypoallergenic foods contain nothing that the body can recognize as a foreign material.  The proteins have been formulated to be so small (hydrolyzed) that they are unrecognizable as foreign material, so the body can not react in an allergic manner to them, yet they are nutritious for the pet.

Only your veterinarian can prescribe truly “hypoallergenic”/ hydrolyzed food for your pet.  This may be very beneficial if there is suspicion that {NAME} is allergic to some component in your pet’s  food (chicken, beef, wheat, soy, preservatives, etc).  Pets going on a Hydrolyzed / Hypoallergenic Food Trial must remain on that food, and ONLY that food (nothing else can pass their lips unless specifically approved by your veterinarian—any little “cheat” defeats 3 weeks of prescription food benefits) for 3 months.  If the allergies are improved, your vet may recommend switching to a “Single Antigen Diet” or staying on the Hypoallergenic Diet long term.

**There are no “hypoallergenic” over-the-counter foods that are appropriate for a diet trial.  At best, over the counter foods, even limited ingredient foods, fall in the category of “skin support foods”**

  ð Omega 3 fatty acids      Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly the “EPA” fraction,  have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect in skin and other tissues throughout the body when given daily, in high doses, for 30 days and more.  Allergic pets can benefit greatly from the anti-inflammatory effects of high potency omega 3 fatty acids given every day of their lives.  (They will also be receiving beneficial effects to their joints, liver and heart!).

Not all Fatty Acid (or “fish oil”) supplements are created equal.  Every product has a different amount of various omega fatty acids in it, some of which are NOT anti-inflammatory.  Aim to give your pet approximately 20 mg per pound EPA.  If the product you are considering using does not specifically list the amount of EPA in each capusle, don’t buy it.  If you have to give too many capsules to achieve the correct dose, check with your veterinarian.  Vets usually carry prescription qulaity, high potency omega 3 products that are cost effective and easily administered!

ð Antihistamines     There are several classes of antihistamines available for use in dogs.  Just as one antihistamine may work well in one human and not in another, dogs have individual responses to antihistamines as well.  Dogs and cats also require a much larger dosage of antihistamines than humans to control itchy skin conditions.  They also need to be treated at the high dose for a minimum of 5 days, in most cases, to evaluate the effect of the antihistamine as it takes that long to get an effective blood level of antihistamine in a dog.  Giving antihistamines periodically or intermittently is rarely helpful.  Your veterinarian can suggest antihistamines and doses to try.  **Please consult your vet before changing medications or dosages to ensure that you are treating appropriately.


ð Steroids      Steroids are usually very effective as controlling itch in all but the most severely allergic and food allergic patients.  Short courses of steroids, either by injection or oral treatment may be necessary to prevent a pet from injuring itself due to excessive licking and scratching.  However, steroids have life draining side effects and should not be given long term unless no other alternative is possible.

ð Atopica      Atopica  is a revolutionary treatment for allergies that significantly reduces itching without the debilitative side effects of steroids.  This medication can be given long term, sometimes every other day or only a couple times a week.  This is a good treatment option when the above treatments aren’t working well enough to keep a pet comfortable.

ð Immunotherapy     “Allergy Injections” can be formulated specifically for your pet, based on exactly what * is allergic to, according to blood or skin testing.  Your veterinarian can perform the blood testing.  A Board Certified Dermatologist needs to perform skin testing in order to formulate allergy injections that way.  These injections can be very helpful for patients who must have daily medication to live comfortably or who are not comfortable even with daily medication and special foods.  In some cases, when daily treatments are still needed, pets often get along comfortably with fewer medications or only dietary control, avoiding the cost and detrimental effects of long term more expensive medications.

If  you are frustrated with your pet’s response to treatment, if your pet is not comfortable despite following your veterinarian’s recommendations, or if you are just “done” with all of the special care, please ask us about Immunotherapy.  It may be time! fb logo

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