Allergic skin disease can be due to many things and often pets are allergic to a mix of things rather than just one, so diagnosing what your pet is allergic to can be tricky! There are also lots of treatment options and every pet is different in which treatment works best for them.
Signs of a skin allergy:
The aim of treatment is to reduce the symptoms to a much more comfortable level but may not completely resolve them. It is important to be aware that if your pet is allergic, their treatment plan will likely be a management plan, rather than a cure: and they may have intermittent flare ups from time to time.
Immunotherapy injections: Are personalised vaccines created from information on the allergy blood tests. These vaccines are specifically produced for your pet and include any allergens that have been indicated via blood testing. We start by injecting very small amounts of the vaccine every 2 weeks, building up to a maintenance program of a monthly injection. It can take 6-12 months before we know whether this program has been effective: we see an improvement in approximately 2/3 of patients.
Cytopoint injections: These are given monthly and are an immunomodulating
injection: designed to try and adapt your pet’s allergic response. Many patients do very well on these, and we often see a response within the first 1-2 months.
Alternatively, oral medication may be necessary to control your pet’s symptoms. A commonly used oral medication is the specific antipruritic medication (anti-itch), Apoquel in dogs, which can be used in conjunction with the immunotherapy and cytopoint injections during a flare: or as a sole treatment. Atopica is an immunosuppressive medication, designed to reduce your pet’s immune response to the allergens.
Prednisolone steroid therapy and antihistamines are also commonly used but it is important to note these medications are human medications and not specifically licensed for pets. Some pets will only need therapy during certain seasons of the year, but some pets will need treatment all year round and may require regular 6 monthly health checks to ensure they are doing well.
For further information on these medications please see the links below
Apoquel – (Oral Tablet)
Atopica – (This is an oral tablet or solution) It works by altering the body’s immune system.
Prednisolone – this is a steroid oral tablet and often used to control moderate symptoms in the short term, but in severe cases that do not respond to other medications may be necessary longer term.
You can also reduce your pets contact with the allergen depending on what it is. For example, storage mites in dry food – wetting the food can reduce an allergic response to this, buying wet food instead or buying smaller bags of food. Another example is grass pollen – washing your pet’s feet with water after walks.
Flea allergy is easily controlled with a strict parasite regime and good house cleaning. 90% of the flea life cycle is in the household environment so it is important to ensure using a flea spray in the house every 6 months, regular hoovering and washing of bedding.
Often more than one therapy will be required as sometimes one is just not enough to control the symptoms.
Sometimes other treatments are necessary: your pet may need regular baths with a specialised shampoo to improve the coat condition, soothe the skin or
reduce surface bacteria or yeasts. If they suffer with otitis (inflammation of the ear) they may require regular ear cleaners or treatments. Coat support therapies that are rich in omega oils such as Viacutin, Nutramega, Dermoscent or Yuderm can also help in the overall management of a patient with skin disease.