Allergy Treatment in Dogs

Allergy Treatment in Dogs - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention

What is Allergy Treatment?

There are two main types of allergies dogs experience, food allergies, and environmental allergies. Substances in the environment such as pollens and pollutants can cause allergy symptoms, as can dietary components. 

In dogs, allergy symptoms tend to be dermal and consist of inflamed, itchy skin. An allergic reaction in your dog is due to an inappropriate immune system reaction to a benign substance. Because the resulting dermal reaction is painful and itchy, most dogs respond by excessive scratching, licking, and biting the itchy skin, which will exacerbate the condition. Your veterinarian can treat allergic reactions with steroids, antihistamines, and antibiotics. In addition, allergy shots, which are a form of immunotherapy, can be provided to your dog. These contain small amounts of the allergen eliciting the allergic response. Immunotherapy works by providing hyposensitization to the allergen causing your pet's reaction. By introducing small amounts of the allergen, below the threshold required to evoke a response, allergy shots “train” your dog’s immune system not to react to the environmental factor which normally triggers a reaction. There are also many natural remedies that you can provide your dog to relieve 

Allergies are complex and several different types of treatments may be required over a period of time to discover the correct combination of treatments and therapies to relieve an allergic condition in your dog.

Allergy Treatment Procedure in Dogs

Once allergens have been identified, your veterinarian can recommend a treatment plan to address symptoms and cause of allergic reaction. There are several options available to treat allergic reactions in dogs. 

The most obvious, if possible, is to remove the allergen from your dog's environment or diet. However this may not always be possible.

Corticosteroids administered orally or topically are a powerful anti-inflammatory and usually provide rapid relief of allergy symptoms. They do, however, have side effects and certain medical conditions in your dog may prevent their use.

Antihistamines can be prescribed that inhibit histamine reactions in your dog. Histamines produced by your dog's immune system in response to an allergen cause inflammation and sometimes watery eyes and nose. Antihistamines bind to histamines, preventing them from causing the allergic reaction. Antihistamines also have side effects and can only be used for a limited time.

If secondary infection results from allergic reactions, which may occur when your dog interferes with the itchy inflamed skin produced by the reaction, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to counteract bacteria that is present and complicating the reaction.

Allergy shots can be developed that act like a vaccine, containing small amounts of the allergen. These shots expose your dog's immune system to subthreshold amounts of allergen to “train” your dog’s immune system not to respond to the allergen. They must be given over a long period of time, often a year or more, in order for immune system changes to take effect. They may be required on an ongoing basis.

Eradication of fleas and parasites by treatment of your dog for the parasite and vacuuming your home frequently and/or removing debris in your yard that could harbor these pests will help reduce allergy reactions. Many dogs are allergic to fleas or they can complicate other allergic reactions.

Skin lesions and sores can be soothed with medicated shampoos and rinses. Many natural and commercial preparations are available.

Your dog's diet can be adjusted to support immune system functioning. A diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates will facilitate immune system functioning in your dog and assist in reducing allergic reactions. Your veterinarian can advise you on appropriate diet to support immune system functioning. 

Efficacy of Allergy Treatment in Dogs

Because allergic reactions involve the immune system, and many factors can complicate them, it can take some time, and a combination of therapies to address allergic reactions in your dog. A combination of supportive treatments to relieve symptoms and medication to address the reaction is often required. Each dog has different requirements and a trial and error approach, that may take some time, is often required to resolve allergic reactions. Dedication by yourself and your veterinarian are key to discovering a successful therapy and providing relief from allergies for your dog. 

Allergy Treatment Recovery in Dogs

Medications such as antihistamines, antibiotics, and corticosteroids have side effects which may need supportive care to address. Common side effects such as increased thirst, urination and hunger, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy may occur. Ensure your dog has adequate water and food, provide rest and frequent bathroom breaks. Bathing, applying creams, and giving medication on an ongoing basis is often required to address allergic reactions and patience and time commitment is required of pet owners with allergic dogs. A change in diet is often required to remove allergenic substances and support immune system functioning with a high protein diet.

Cost of Allergy Treatment in Dogs

Veterinary consultations range from $50 to $150 per session. Medications can range in price from $20 to $100 or more, and may be required on an ongoing basis.

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Dog Allergy Treatment Considerations

A long-term commitment is usually required to adequately address allergic reactions. Mediations can have detrimental side effects, especially when required on an ongoing basis. Some medications can compromise immune system function, which in turn exacerbates allergic reactions, thus creating a negative cycle of medication and negative allergic reaction. As many different therapies may be required to address your dog's condition, cost can be a factor, especially over time.

Allergy Treatment Prevention in Dogs

If possible, preventing your dog from being exposed to an allergen may resolve the condition, however, this is often not realistic. Ensuring that your dog is not exposed to fleas and other parasitic infections will help reduce the incidence of allergic reactions. Vacuuming your home frequently to remove dust, parasites, and other allergens can reduce allergic reactions. You can wipe down your dog's feet when they come in from outside with a damp cloth, which may help decontaminate your dog, and lessen allergen exposure. Supporting your dog's immune system with a good diet and avoiding unnecessary vaccines that stimulate the immune system will help your dog's immune system to function appropriately and avoid reactions.

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