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04 Inhalant Allergies: Treatment Options


This article is from the Canine Allergies FAQ, by Cheryl Minnier with numerous contributions by others.

04 Inhalant Allergies: Treatment Options

Symptomatic Therapy
Treating the dogs symptoms may include; cool baths with or
without colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts, or medicated shampoos.
This can be done frequently but provides only temporary relief.
Caution should be used with sprays and ointments because many
contain potentially harmful substances. According to Dr.
Ackerman, Dermacool is a safe spray containing witch hazel.
Cortispray is a low dose, nonsystemic cortisone spray which can
be safely used for short periods of time.

Allergy shots are very safe and many people have great success
with them, however, they are very slow to work. It may be six
to twelve months before improvement is seen. I spoke with Dr.
Christine Johnson, a veterinarian with the dermatology
department of the University of Pennsylvania, about intradermal
skin testing for inhalant allergies. She reports the average
success rate is 70-75%. This rate is for dogs showing any
improvement at all. At U of P. the cost for the procedure is
$69.00 for the exam, $122.00 for the sedation and testing, and
$85.00 for the first 5 months worth of vaccine. After that
vaccines are purchased in 7 month supply for $65.00. Substances
that are tested include cats(!), feathers, wool, molds, dust,
trees, insects, plants and pollens. Before testing, your pet
must be free from all steroids, oral or injected (including
those found in ear and eye medicines) for a specified period of
time in order for the test to be valid. In all about 60
different substances are tested for.

These compounds reduce itching by reducing inflammation.
Unfortunately, they also affect every organ in the body.
According to Dr. Ackerman, 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 dog 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, decreased resistance to
infection and increased susceptibility to seizures. You can
recognize steroids by the suffix "-one", such as cortisone,
dexamethasone, prednisone..etc.. In short, alternatives to
steroid therapy should always be considered.

Antihistamines can be used with relative safety in dogs. About
one third of owners report success with them. The major
drawback, as with people, is sedation. Dr. Ackerman recommends
that a minimum of three different types of antihistamines be
tried before owners give up on this therapy. According to Dr.
Johnson, the most common problem with this type of treatment is
that owners give the drugs at doses that are too low. Check
with your vet on correct dosing. Examples of antihistamines
commonly used for dogs include: Tavist, Benadryl,
Chlortrimeton, Atarax and Seldane. Personally, I have seen the
best results with Atarax.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory agents. They
reportedly are helpful in 20% of allergic dogs. My own
experience puts this figure a little higher. They are certainly
worth a try because they are not harmful and have virtually no
side effects. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oils
(especially krill and cod) and omega-6 fatty acids are derived
from plants containing gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), such as oil
from the evening primrose. These supplements are different from
those sold to produce a glossy coat. They tend to reduce
inflammation that may lead to skin sores but are not as
effective in reducing itching. Products that contain both
omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids include: Omega Pet, Derm Caps,
and EFA-Z Plus.

Environmental Control
If you know which substances your dog is allergic to avoidance
is the best method of control. Even if you are desensitizing
the dog with allergy shots, it is best to avoid the allergen
altogether. Molds can be reduced by using a dehumidifier or
placing activated charcoal on top of the exposed dirt in your
house plants. Dusts and pollens are best controlled by using an
air cleaner with a HEPA filter. Air conditioning can also
reduce circulating amounts of airborne allergens because
windows are then kept closed.

While there is nothing you can do to prevent a rescue dog from
developing allergies, breeders should be aware that allergic
dogs SHOULD NOT BE BRED!!! Dr. Johnson confirmed that there is
clinical proof that allergies are inherited!


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