Scratch the itch with Apoquel
The days of treating skin allergies with long term cortisone or anti-rejection drugs and their associated side effects is near to a close.
Whether it's a flea or contact allergy, or a case of breathing in pollens causing a "skin asthma attack" (atopy), Apoquel has risen through the mist to become the number one treatment worldwide for itchy dogs.
Apoquel has been shown to have similar anti-itching results to cortisone and cyclosporin which have undesirable side effects.
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It does not cause upset stomachs seen with cyclosporin, and none of the side effects seen with cortisone. Talk about great news!
It is more expensive than cortisone but cheaper then cylosporin.
If you eliminate the nasty side effects of cortisone and their treatment, then you are probably going to be spending the same amount on a yearly basis compared to older classical therapies.
Do dogs have asthma attacks?
Dogs as a rule don't get the wheezy chest we see in human and cat asthma attacks. Instead, the skin is the "target organ". These dogs are called "atopic".
Atopic dogs classically scratch all over, rub their faces and have watery eyes. They are often also allergic to things in the environment e.g. plants, polllens, house dust mites.
How do you tell between a flea allergy and a contact allergy?
If you can see fleas and there is a rash along the top of the lower back, then it's probably a flea allergy problem.
If the rash is on the lower parts of the body, e.g. feet, armpits and groin, then it's probably a contact allergy.
Both of these allergy problems tend to be worse in spring and summer.
What about a food allery?
Food allergies only represent approx 1% of itchy dog and cat problems, so they are pretty uncommon. They last all year round compared to flea and contact allergies and atopy which are worse in spring and summer. Cats tend to present with rashes around their face and neck and dogs can look like they have a flea allergy.
How do you treat allergies?
If there is a particular cause e.g. fleas or some type of weed growing in the backyard, then removing it will certainly help e.g Wandering Jew.
But going for a walk and contacting weeds and grasses, breathing in pollens or getting a hitch hiker flea, is not so easily prevented.
To minimise the body's allergic response, vets have relied on cortisone therapy. However, long term use and high doses result in undesirable side effects e.g. drinking any weeing a lot (polydypsia), swollen livers, diabetes, cushing disease.
To avoid these nasty side effects, some dogs have been placed on alternative drugs to minimise their allergic reactions. Classically, this has been Cyclosporin (an anti-rejection drug used in humans for kidney, liver and heart transplants). Cyclosporin can cause upset stomachs and is very expensive.