While the abundance of scratching, runny eyes and itchiness that your dog or cat suffers from can be reduced with environmental and food correction, they may occasionally need medication to reduce discomfort. Several products can be used to give relief depending on the preference of your local vet. Often a simple antihistamine such as Benadryl is the first line of treatment with variable results. Some dogs respond quite favorably to occasional low doses while other pets show no improvement. This brings to light the most important aspect of treating dermatological diseases. It is essential that when starting medication an open and frequently utilized line of communication is established with your veterinarian. It is impossible to predict which medication an allergic pet will best respond to so trial and error is often the approach. Excellent record keeping on your part as well as a veterinary practice that is willing to take the time needed to follow medication trials, successes and failures is mandatory.
While antihistamines are often initally tried, others medications that your local vet may deem appropriate are steroids, fatty acid supplements, shampoos, antibiotics, and other immunosuppresive drugs (cyclosporin). To maximize your pet’s comfort it may be necessary to utilize a combination of the above. Unfortunately certain medications such as the steroid prednisone can often be very effective but can have mild to severe side effects. So although this medication is invaluable in treating severe allergic symptons, chonic use of this drug should be avoided whenever possible. If you find that the allergic flare ups are frequent and prolonged, it may be time to consider hyposentization for your pet. That is the process whereby the previous allergy screen is used to have allergy injections manufactured that will help to desensitize your pet to some of the various substances that he or she is allergic to. These injections can either be given by a trained person in your household or by someone in the veterinary practice. As mentioned above trial and error may be used in determining the best frequency and success of the treatment.
Understanding that allergy is not a curable disease but rather a condition that needs to be managed and controlled is the most important take away from this series on skin diseases. It takes diligence, patience and a true cooperative relationship between you, the client, and your veterinarian. There is every expectation that your pet’s allergy discomfort can be maximized for his or her life.