What seems to be causing my pets to itch? Well, that is a loaded question with many answers. When speaking of our canine friend it really depends. These things will be generalizations. Please understand that not all pets fit the same mold.
Dogs who are less than three years of age, who show the following signs may have allergies:
- Chewing their feet
- Excessive scratching of skin
- Chronic or recurrent ear infections
Most times we will often think of food causing the problem. But before we all jump on the grain allergy train, lets slow down. Most food allergies are not from grain. The top three food allergies are in fact:
Brand Pet Foods
Animals are not allergic to brand names, so be sure to check the ingredients. Many pet foods may say on the front label, that they have only one protein source. However, this may not be the case. You need to read the BACK label, and make sure they haven’t added another source.
I often will start slowly with clients who may feel their pet has a food allergy. With that said, I have them switch to a lamb and rice, OTC (over the counter) food.
Pet Treats & Prescriptions Diets
The next step is to give the pet treats. From there, we need to see what response we get from those. It’s important to wait 8 weeks, to see if a change occurs. If this doesn’t work, you may need a prescription diet. Prescription diets are usually closed label. This means they can’t change an ingredient without notification. Also required is that the vats that make the food are sterilized in between to prevent contamination.
Effective Drug Treatments
If a pet is greater than 3 years of age, or we start to notice seasonality to the allergies, then we often think of inhaled or contact allergies. In the old Days (5 years ago) we would have to do allergy testing to determine cause and try desensitization with allergy shots or the dreaded steroid and chronic intermittent antibiotics. It wasn’t uncommon that pets with bad allergies had to live on a combination of steroids, antibiotics, antifungals and chronic bathing. Things aren’t fixed perfectly, but in the last few years several products have come out that have revolutionized how we treat seasonal allergies. The relief we have been able to deliver is amazing.
One New Drug is Apoquel
This is the trade name for oclacitinib maleate. It is an oral tablet medication licensed for the management of pruritus associated with allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis in dogs at least 12 months of age. In canine allergic dermatitis the drug inhibits the signaling of certain cytokines involved in allergy and inflammation.
Apoquel is an extremely safe medication with very few side effects. It has some immunosuppressive qualities and should not be taken in certain situations. It is much safer than steroids or chronic antibiotics. Apoquel is a pill and given once or twice daily. It is recommended to monitor blood levels every 6 months. It has been very infrequent that a pet will have to come off the medication. Most dogs will see significant improvement with this drug.
Apoquel can be used for both seasonal and food allergies.
Another New Drug is Cytopoint
This is the trade name for lokivetmab, a monoclonal “caninized” anti IL-31 antibody. It is an injectable immunotherapeutic licensed for the reduction of clinical signs of atopic dermatitis in dogs. This drug help mediate the nerve transmission of the itch from the skin to the brain. It is considered a biologic. It is typically given as an injection every 4-8 weeks as needed for seasonal allergies. I have experienced no side effects with this drug. However, as with any medication, a pet can have an allergic reaction. That said though, I have not seen one yet.
Cytopoint works well for seasonal allergies.
Treatment Should Depend on Severity
I know people will still ask is it safe? Compared to the old regime… it is light years better!
Treatment should depend on severity. Not all dogs need drugs. If the pet is not causing trauma to the skin or infections, bathing more frequently with the correct shampoo, fish oils, or antihistamines can be tried with great success.
When we discuss our feline friends there are many things to consider. Every pet is different. One thing there is for sure is All Pets Are Loveable!