Allergies - Part 1
Allergies - Part 2
Treating environmental allergies also offers some distinct challenges.
The medications are either ineffective, have too many side effects or are expensive.
There really are only 5 options in dealing with allergies in dogs.
2. Cortisone: Corticosteroids are the strongest anti-inflammatories around and are frequently used for allergy treatment in dogs. The upside is that they work quickly to decrease the symptoms; the downside is that long term use causes too many side effects to list here. This is not a long term option to consider.
3. Antihistamines: In my experience, antihistamines have a failure rate of about 80%. If they help they must continue to be administered to give relief. These medications are extremely safe and inexpensive.
4. Allergy testing and Immunotherapy: Lots of people want to know what their dog is allergic to. I believe that these tests are an expensive exercise to satisfy owner curiosity. However, the information can be used to formulate injections to desensitize dogs to the allergens identified. Unfortunately, the shots only work about 50% of the time and in varying amounts. Additionally, they are really expensive and the owner must commit to trying them for a year prior to giving up. I have not chosen to use this therapy since I started using the next option, Atopica.
5. Atopica (cyclosporin) is a an immune modulating medication that came to market about 10 years ago. This medication blocks the T-helper cells, which is a small branch of the immune system. This selective immune modulation is part of the reason why this medication is so effective and has minimal side effects. Additionally, Atopica attains higher concentrations in the skin, which obviously creates a huge benefit when dealing with skin allergies. Atopica has a success rate of at least 95% after two months.
Foot licking in dogs is caused by environmental allergies about 95% of the time. The remaining 5% is composed mostly of food allergy dogs and rarely those with obsessive compulsive disorders.