April showers bring May flowers, and what do May flowers bring? Itchy dogs and cats. With the re-emergence of spring, the flowers and trees are in full bloom. While we are all enjoying this welcomed weather, the pollen count is through the roof. That means if your pet suffers from atopic dermatitis (aka – seasonal allergies), your pet is probably itchy. Animals show their allergies differently from their human families. While human allergy sufferers experience itchy eyes, runny noses, and scratchy throats, our pets show their allergies through their skin. That means they itch, their ears get infected, they get skin infections, and they lick and chew.
Luckily, we now have an arsenal of tools to help our pets. Topical products can help control secondary skin and ear infections. That can take the form of shampoos, ear drops, and wipes. We can test your pet to see what specific things they are allergic to. We can then order allergy shots or oral allergy drops to help desensitize them (just like people get allergy shots). There are a variety of oral medications to help control the itch as well. Steroids are very effective, but carry a host of side effects, especially if used for the long term. Anti-histamines can help with mild cases. There is a combination product of a small amount of steroids and antihistamine to combine the best of both worlds. Cyclosporine can help to decrease the immune response in both cats and dogs. Elimination diets are available for dogs and cats with food allergies.
A newer product on the market has given relief to those dogs for who nothing else has worked. Apoquel is a cytokine inhibitor, that works on the JAK1 receptor. This does not allow the allergy cascade to start at the cellular level. It is appropriate for dogs over one year of age, and has a good safety record.
Whatever your pet’s allergy issues, our veterinarians can work with you to find the best solution for your pet.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.