Short Term Allergy Solutions
There are many options for short term solutions that help control allergy clinical signs. We recommend using these in conjunction with immunotherapy to keep patients comfortable but with a long term goal of eventually only using all natural allergy treatment to manage allergies. Allergy specific immunotherapy is the safest option for treating allergies by treating the underlying cause of the disease and not just the symptoms.
Steroid therapy is a successful short term solution, but prolonged use can have serious side effects. Steroids reduce itching by reducing inflammation. Unfortunately, they also affect every organ in the body. Steroids should be considered only when the allergy season is short; the amount of drug required is small or as a last resort to relieve a pet in extreme discomfort. Side effects can include increased thirst and appetite, increased need to urinate and behavioral changes. Long term use can result in diabetes, iatrogenic Cushing’s Sydrome (steroid-induced), decreased resistance to infection, and increased susceptibility to seizures.
Click here to read the Technical Memo on Steroids.
These include drugs that target the immune system in various ways to stop the patient from itching. They are classified as immunosuppressant or immunomodulatory drugs and biologic therapies, examples are drugs such as Atopica, Apoquel® or Cytopoint™. These are all short term therapies that effect several systems in the body.
Atopica is an immunosuppressant drug that has been available to veterinary patients for 15 years. It suppresses immune responsiveness, but in a less generalized way than steroids. It takes about a month to become effective; a common side effect of this drug is gastrointestinal upset.
Immunomodulatory drugs work differently than steroids or antihistamines to reduce itch in atopic dogs. These are FDA-approved drugs that modify, or alter specific functions of the immune system. Allergies are caused when the immune system over-reacts to allergic triggers, causing increased inflammation, redness and itching. An immunomodulatory drug known as Apoquel® prevents itch signals from reaching the brain by blocking powerful signaling systems that affect hundreds of different functions in the body. Therefore, while this drug may be successful at blocking itchy allergy symptoms, it does not treat underlying allergic disease, and it also impacts other important immune functions, including the ability to fight infections.
As with all drugs, it is highly recommended that the prescribing information be read thoroughly before starting patients on medication. It is important to remember that no drug can cure chronic allergic disease; it can only alleviate symptoms for a short time. Immunotherapy is the only treatment method that prevents and can actually reverse the progression of allergic disease.
Click here to read the Technical Memo on Apoquel®
Monoclonal antibody-based biologic therapy is the newest tool to become available for fast acting itch relief in atopic dogs. Cytopoint™ is an engineered antibody given monthly to control itch. Cytopoint™ targets and neutralizes a specific protein that helps to send itch signals from the site of allergic inflammation in the skin, through the nervous system to the brain.
There are no independent studies of possible side effects following long-term use of monoclonal antibody therapy in dogs. Cytopoint™ is a new option to relieve one of the symptoms (itch), but not the cause of allergy. It is best used as short term therapy for itch relief in conjunction with the early stages of immunotherapy, or to help control the occasional flare-ups that are part of chronic allergic disease.
Click here to read the Technical Memo on Cytopoint™.
What does this all mean?
Both immunomodulatory drugs and biologic therapy target proteins with more wide-reaching impacts upon the body than just the cause of itching. Allergen specific immunotherapy remains the safest and most well characterized method for the treatment of allergy symptoms, by treating the underlying cause of allergic disease.
Click here for more details on ACTT Allergy Immunotherapy.