Treatment of dog skin allergies is frustrating.
Frustrating for you, your dog, and the veterinarian.
Veterinarians recommend a variety of medicines to combat allergies. Since one medicine does not work for all dogs, the frustration continues.
Because the treatment of dog skin problems is a constant battle.
It’s a battle you can only control, not win.
You Can Only Control the Symptoms, Not Win the Battle
Remember The Little Engine That Could and “I think I can, I think I can?”
Well, that’s how we all feel trying to control and treat dog skin allergies. We think we can, only to be disappointed when Rover returns with another rash on his belly.
With so many treatment options available, a decent first line dog allergy medicine I frequently recommend is Benadryl at 1mg per pound of body weight two to three times per day.
One disadvantage of Benadryl is that it rarely provides consistent relief and your dog will usually become drowsy and lethargic with its use.
Another drug frequently prescribed by veterinarians that is similar to Benadryl is Hydroxyzine.
Both of these medicines are antihistamines.
Steroids: Most Commonly Used for Dog Allergies
Steroids have a bad reputation when it comes to allergies because of the potential side effects.
The common side effects of steroids are:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Weight gain
- Ravenous appetite
- Liver enzyme elevations
Budesonide, one of the newer steroids, reportedly has fewer side effects than other commonly used steroid preparations. Great!
But, if you want a great dog sneezing treatment or profound relief from scratching, then steroids are the way to go.
Topical steroid sprays are liquid gold when it comes to suppressing itching in confined areas such as between the legs or over the base of the tail.
Common names of steroids include prednisone, budesonide, and dexamethasone.
Used properly and judiciously, steroids provide rapid and sustained relief from all common symptoms of dog allergies.
If steroids are used consistently, though, your pet will encounter side effects.
Another common treatment for dog allergies is cyclosporine, an immunosuppressive drug.
Used for all types of immunosuppressive diseases, cyclosporine, marketed under the brand name Atopica, is usually well tolerated and seems to ameliorate many allergy symptoms, especially scratching and self-mutilation.
Unfortunately, some unlucky dogs ultimately need to be referred to a dermatologist for treatment.
In most circumstances, the dermatologist will recommend specific allergy testing either through a blood test or intradermal injection(s).
Then, after discovering the main allergens affecting your dog, the dermatologist will formulate a specific injectable allergen extract.
This extract and the subsequent treatment is called immunotherapy.
Intradermal skin testing and subsequent immunotherapy is a specific treatment for an individual animal and is considered the gold standard for diagnosis and treatment of canine allergies.
However, roughly 25-35% of dogs are non-responders and therefore gain little benefit from this treatment.
So, what are some other common dog allergy treatments?
- Benadryl or Hydroxyzine
- Steroids both oral and topical
- Cyclosporine (Atopica)
- Supplements (Omega-3)
I know most of you have tried at least a few of these remedies.
Which dog allergy solutions have you tried?
Which ones were successful and which were unsuccessful?
Let us know in the comment section below!