Just like us, dogs are prone to allergies! And just like us, dogs can experience a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms, including itching, skin inflammation, and rashes. An allergy is a hypersensitivity of the dog’s immune system as it reacts to a perceived foreign substance, or allergen, often air borne. However, dogs most often react to these inhaled allergens with itching skin, technically called pruritus - the medical term used to describe the intense itching sensation your pet feels, instead of “hay fever” symptoms that people often experience. It’s this sensation that prompts your pet to scratch, bite, chew, or lick its own paws, hair, and skin.
Atopic Dermatitis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition associated with allergies. Atopic allergies account for a large share of allergies in dogs, and can be brought on by common environmental substances like grass, mold spores, pollen, dust mites and even house dust. Signs and symptoms may become more noticeable during warmer seasons, but often persist all year, and tend to gradually increase in severity as your pet ages.
- Extreme itchiness
- Dark, thickened, scaly skin
- Rashes, redness, or scabs
- Scratching, rolling, and rubbing
- Excessive licking, chewing or biting
- Recurrent ear problems – discharge, head shaking and scratching
- Hair loss
- Body and ear odor
Commonly Affected Areas of the Dog:
- Wrists and ankles
It’s easy to understand why allergies make dogs so miserable! Luckily, there are a number of allergy treatments available:
Apoquel: oclacitinib tablet for the control of pruritus (itching) associated with allergic dermatitis and control of atopic dermatitis in dogs at least 12 months of age.
- Mode of action: Apoquel works right at the source to stop the underlying cause of allergic itch. It is a synthetic Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor. Apoquel inhibits the function of a variety of pruritogenic cytokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as cytokines involved in allergy that are dependent on JAK1 or JAK3 enzyme activity.
- Onset of action: 4 hours for relief; 24 hours for control.
Temaril-P: Oral tablets relieve itching and reduce inflammation. Temaril-P can help manage symptoms, but does not provide a cure.
- Mode of action: Combines the antipruritic action of trimeprazine with the anti-inflammatory action of prednisolone to manage symptoms.
- Onset of action: Within hours of administration.
Corticosteroids including Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and Prednisolone: Steroids can effectively suppress allergy symptoms to relieve dogs of itching and red skin. Side effects, including immune and liver system damage; onset of diabetes may result.
- Mode of action: Suppression of allergy symptoms. Effectiveness often decreases the more steroids are used.
- Onset of action: 1 – 7 days
Immune Modulators including Atopica Capsules or Cyclosporine Capsules: Oral treatment for allergy signs. Immune Modulators prevent stimulation of histamine release. Cyclosporine is a cyclic polypeptide, immune modulating agent consisting of 11 amino acids.
- Mode of action: Suppresses IL-2, T helper cells, and T suppressor cells.
- Onset of action: 4 – 6 weeks for full effect.
- Mode of action: Blocks the action of histamine in the body.
- Onset of action: Several hours to several days.
Natural Fatty Acids including Triglyceride Omega-3 Supplement: Omega fatty acids decrease the tendency for the dog’s immune system to overreact.
- Mode of action: Fatty acids must be incorporated into the body’s cells.
- Onset of action: 3-6 weeks.
Consulting with your veterinarian to find the right treatment can make a world of difference to your pet’s quality of life. Say goodbye to itching and scratching; and say hello to more cuddling!