Allergies – New Treatments
Allergic dermatitis or atopy is a very common disorder in dogs. The main symptom is scratching and itching. Other symptoms include paw licking and chewing, head shaking, and face rubbing. Occasionally there are respiratory signs as well. There can be secondary infections that can be quite severe. Here are some of the treatments used for this condition.
Antihistamines – drugs like benadryl are commonly given by pet owners. Of all of the treatments, antihistamines are the least effective. Occasionally we will prescribe antihistamines for very mild cases or when respiratory signs are predominant.
Steroids – the most commonly used drug in this class is prednisone, although there are others. Historically steroids have been the prescribed treatment for allergic dermatitis. Steroids are very effective and relatively inexpensive. The main problem is side effects. Short term there can be excessive drinking and urinating as well as panting and a voracious appetite. Long term steroids can cause liver problems and even a disease called Cushings. Steroids can be given as an injection. When they are used, they must be given at the lowest possible dose and monitored closely.
Atopica – this drug is a potent immune system suppressor. As an alternative to steroids, it has the advantage of working well with less side effects. It is relatively more expensive. It needs to be monitored closely because infections are a possibility. It has largely been replaced by an even newer drug in our practice.
Apoquel – this drug has become the “gold standard” for treating allergic dermatitis in our practice. It is highly effective and has minimal side effects. The biggest disadvantage is higher cost. When effectiveness and side effects are considered, Apoquel should be the first choice when considering allergic dermatitis treatment. https://www.apoqueldogs.com/index.aspx
Cytopoint – this is the newest treatment for allergic dermatitis. It is an injection. It can last a month or more. It is safe and effective. The cost is comparable to the other newer treatments. It is particularly suited for those patients that are difficult to give pills or owners want an easier treatment for them to manage. http://www.cytopoint4dogs.com/