Dog Itching Treatment

We’ve got some important news about two new medications that we can highly recommend to counteract allergic dermatitis in dogs. These drugs have been a long time in development, but are finally available to veterinarians and they are changing the way we approach allergy in dogs. Apoquel is a daily tablet and Cytopoint is an injection that is effective for anywhere from four to eight weeks in alleviating the itch caused by allergic dermatitis.
dog itching treatments

These medications are immunosuppressants that interrupt different points along the cascade of events that occurs when an allergic reaction is stimulated, effectively blocking the itch sensation that accompanies allergic dermatitis. Apoquel and Cytopoint appear to be more effective than the previous immune-blocking medication called cyclosporine (Atopica).

When evaluating a patient with allergic dermatitis, I assess the severity of itch along with other possible coexisting factors such as skin infections with bacteria and/or yeast, presence of parasites, mange, or ringworm; which must be treated for overall skin health.

The ideal use of these medications is to provide relief of the incessant itch of seasonal allergy dermatitis (atopy). Immune suppression, or limiting the body’s response to allergens and bacteria, can predispose patients to either skin infection or demodectic mange when used on a continual basis.

Patients with chronic, year-round symptoms are likely allergic to a variety of allergens, with some form present throughout the year, and/or have a food sensitivity. Those very severe cases should be evaluated by allergy testing to determine what allergens cause the dermatitis and to determine what foods might contribute to the overall allergy problem.

When allergy testing reveals the allergens involved, immune serum can be formulation to institute hyposensitization to decrease the immune response to those allergens. Apoquel and Cytopoint can be used in conjunction with hyposensitization in very serious cases.

Food sensitivity testing (done by sampling saliva) reveals what foods stimulate sensitivity so that a diet can be formulated to avoid those sources of allergy.
Antihistamines are the lowest in potency medications to relieve itch, but can be effective when the allergic response is low to moderate. Corticosteroids comprise the next level of treatment, but I try to avoid their use due to the many side effects of those drugs. Apoquel and Cytopoint comprise the highest level of itch relief potency, and are the medications of choice for those moderate and severe cases that require stronger protection.

The most severe cases of allergy respond best to hyposensitization combined with intermittent use of Apoquel or Cytopoint during seasons of especially high allergen contact. It is the goal to identify the most effective treatment program to provide itch relief to our allergy patients.

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