by Audrey Harvey, DVM
Canine Allergy Shots
Allergies are some of the most common causes of itching and scratching in dogs. One way in which they can be managed is with canine allergy shots. They are effective in reducing skin irritation and itching in up to 80% of allergic dogs.
These allergy shots consist of tiny amounts of the substances your dog is allergic to. They are injected weekly at first, and as his immune system learns to tolerate the allergens, his symptoms will ease. Over time, the frequency of the injections is reduced to every other week, and they are eventually given just once a month.
It can cost several hundred dollars to test your dog for allergens and to produce his specific allergy shot, and you won’t see results straight away. Even if your dog responds well, he may still have flare ups from time to time and need other treatments to keep him comfortable.
You may be a bit nervous about giving your dog injections. If that’s the case, then your vet can do it for you. I have had quite a few canine patients visit me regularly so I could give them their allergy shots.
When to Reach for the Needle
Veterinary dermatologists recommend that if you are thinking about using allergy shots to treat your itchy dog, then you start them when he is young. There are several reasons for this:
1. If you can reduce your dog’s reaction to one allergen, then he is less likely to become sensitive to other substances as he gets older.
2. Allergens can pass easily through traumatized skin and cause even more irritation and inflammation. Allergy shots will reduce itching and scratching, and prevent the skin damage that can lead to further allergic reactions.
3. Allergy shots are very safe with no side effects, so they are better for your dog’s long term health.
Natural Treatments for Skin Allergies
Even if you do choose to treat your dog with allergy shots, veterinary dermatologists recommend the use of a combination of other treatments at the same time. There are a range of products that can be safely used to control the occasional itchy outbreak and keep his skin and coat in good health.
Comfy Dog Colloidal Oatmeal Shampoo. This mild shampoo is specifically formulated with oat protein, burdock extract and marshmallow extract to soothe skin irritation and reduce inflammation. It is gentle enough to use on the most sensitive skin.
Fur Butter. This rich after-bath conditioner also contains oatmeal, as well as plant extracts to ease itching. Vitamins A and E add moisture to the skin and coat, leaving your dog’s fur soft, shiny and easy to brush. Apply Fur Butter after a bath when he is still wet and massage it thoroughly into his coat. Leave it for a few minutes before rinsing it off.
Itchin’ for Relief. In spite of your best efforts, there will be times when your dog has an itchy spot that he just won’t stop scratching. This is when you should reach for Itchin’ for Relief. Its nozzle allows you to spray it right on the itchy area, so its aloe vera and oat extract can soothe the irritation and stop the itch.
Whatever allergy treatment you choose for your dog, these products will certainly help to control the annoying symptoms and keep his skin and coat in the best possible condition.