Ask the Veterinarian Allergies and Apoquel By Caterine Wendt, DVM There is no cure for allergies, and that is why it is so frustrating for both humans and animals. There are so many different modalities to help manage allergies (since you can’t cure them) in both you and your pet. Your pet’s allergic organ is their skin and that is why you see them having chronic recurrent itchy skin and ear infections. People, on the other hand, have their respiratory system as their allergic organ, hence explaining the sneezing and coughing and anaphylactic reactions that could close your throat with a tiny peanut, etc. That is why I see so many frustrated owners battling with allergies in their own pets every single day in my clinic. It is Florida, so the allergens are unavoidable. Pets with allergic dermatitis basically have 4 types of allergies that show up as itchy skin and ears- they include Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD), Food Allergies, Contact Allergies, and Atopic Dermatitis (inhaled allergens inside and outside your home). Many people go through several different types of therapies with their pets in an attempt to provide them with some relief. Most people have tried anti-histamines such as Benadryl/Hydroxyzine, medicated shampoos and sprays for pets that are less affected. For pets that have more significant itching and secondary infections many times they will be prescribed corticosteroids (prednisone pills or a steroid injection) and an antibiotic by their Vet. But that will manage the flare up when the root of the problem has not been addressed and the allergy and symptoms will recur at some point in time. Also, your pet cannot be on corticosteroids long term due to deleterious effects on internal organs. Trying to rule out flea allergies as the root allergy is at least the easiest one to rule out with the more advanced oral flea preventions available by
your Veterinarian given on a year round basis to all pets in your household before ruling out other common root allergies. Ruling out food allergies can only be done with a veterinarian- prescribed prescription diet and it requires commitment from the owner to feed that food and that food only for 8 weeks or longer. Do not convince yourself that spending more money on an expensive grain free, or limited ingredient over-the-counter(OTC) diets are sufficient to eliminate a food allergy. Less than 1% of all pets are allergic to grains so do not spend all your hard earned money on grain free and gluten free diets. Pets with food allergies are allergic to the protein, not the starch, so changing the diet to a more expensive diet may artificially help your pet some if they are not allergic to that particular protein. Even OTC diets which claim limited ingredients are all made in the same factory so there will be contamination of other proteins in that food unlike the veterinary prescriptions diets which are made in separate sterile factories for each food only.
or an immunomodulatory drug. It can be used long term without side effects of steroids and will usually start working in the first week. We have this product available which many clinics do not since the manufacturer decides which clinics get a supply. Please don’t give up on your itchy, miserable pet especially if they have been suffering with allergies for years as there is now another option. Please make an appointment and we can discuss all options for you and your pet.
Atopic Dermatitis, or inhaled allergens both outside and inside your home, is the hardest to treat and manage. Many clients even give up on their pets since they have such severe, chronic, recurrent symptoms and secondary infections. We have a blood allergy panel which will help determine what your pet is allergic to. The goal of this test is to gain more information for avoidance of specific allergens and to start a series of desensitization drops or shots (like allergy shots kids can get) and over time the body’s immune system is supposed to react less. There are other long term treatments like Atopica which is not a corticosteroid, it is an immunomodulatory drug, to help reduce allergies but it can be very expensive especially for any pet that is not a toy breed. There is a new option called Apoquel to treat allergies and it is not a corticosteroid, anti-histamine,
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September 2016 • 23
Published on Sep 1, 2016
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