Points of Consideration
||Avoidance of the offending allergens is, theoretically, the best solution. But in most cases, this turns out to be impossible.
Steroids are very effective for quick, symptomatic relief of itching and inflammation. However, the drawback is that they can have
numerous and frequent short- and long-term side effects on the dog. In other words, steroids can compromise, or crash, your pet’s
natural immune system.
Common corticosteroid drugs used to treat skin issues in dogs include methylprednisolone (DepoMedrol TM), triamcinolone (Vetalog TM),
prednisolone and prednisone. These compounds reduce itching by reducing inflammation. In other words, these drugs treat the symptom
of itching, but can do nothing about the underlying cause of the itch.
Unfortunately, they also affect every organ in the body.
Whether a dog has hot spots, mange or allergies, often it’s the secondary infections that cause the worst itching. If steroids are
given to treat the symptoms of itching, the bacterial or fungal secondary infections will be given a boost, and will get much worse
very quickly. The reason for this is that corticosteroids depress lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, making it easier for
bacterial infections to occur and then to proliferate unchecked.
In other words, steroids can compromise, or crash, your pet’s natural immune system.
Steroids may be prescribed by veterinarians, but they are not actually effective in reversing allergic dermatitis. They can even
worsen the condition. Once allergic dermatitis persists, it may already be infected by bacteria. Since steroids have cortisone,
a substance that can inhibit the production of lymphocytes, it prevents the immune system of dogs to naturally fight the bacterial
infection. In that case, steroids may only allow the infection to develop.
Inexpensive Antihistamines may help control itching, especially in conjunction with other treatments. However, since dogs respond
differently to different antihistamines, several types may have to be prescribed before an effective one is found. They
may make dogs drowsy. Efficacy 0 – 30 %
Fatty acids are a "natural" product with some anti-inflammatory properties. They are used as feeding supplements and may be
useful as a complementary treatment. They may help to improve the skin & coat but again they only address the symptoms.
Efficacy: Approximately 25%
||Topical therapy, consisting of shampoos, rinses and topical anti-itch solutions. They may work well at relieving the itching
by reducing the allergen contact with the skin. They offer localized, varying, short-term relief and frequent shampooing
may be inconvenient for pet owners.
||A new generation of oral medications specifically developed to control symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Selective
immunomodulating properties provides symptomatic control without the systemic adverse effects commonly seen with traditional
Corticosteroid therapy. They are expensive and require multiple veterinarian visits to monitor the pet. The duration of
relief the pet experiences varies and readministration is required when symptoms return.
||Immunotherapy targets and neutralizes the source of disease. It is 75 – 85% successful. Desensitization, also called
immunotherapy, requires identifying the offending allergen. A series of shots are then administered over a lengthy
period of time to "desensitize" the dog to the offending allergen. When effective, this therapy is a valid option,
but unfortunately, not all dogs respond to it and close monitoring required. It may take 6 to 12 months to begin
signs of improvement.
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