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Dog Allergy Treatment

Conventional dog allergy treatment includes the use of corticosteroids, antihistamine, or hyposensitization (allergy shots). Alternative or complementary allergy treatment includes the use of herbs, supplements, and diet. This page looks at how to treat dog allergies using different treatment options.

Dog in Bathtub
If your dog is showing symptoms of canine allergies, it is essential to get a proper diagnosis so that treatment can be given as soon as possible.

Do not adopt a wait-and-see attitude because allergy symptoms such as intense itchiness can greatly compromise your dog's quality of life. They make your dog miserable and, over time, he may self-mutilate as a result of the constant scratching, biting, chewing, and licking. His behavior may also change - he may become aggressive or depressed.

It is also important to learn more about the various dog allergy treatment options available so that you, with the help of your vet, can make an educated choice which hopefully is the most appropriate one for your dog.

Conventional Dog Allergy Treatment Options

Conventional allergy treatment for dogs include the following:
  • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids (steroids in short), such as Prednisone, are common drugs for dog allergy treatment. Corticosteriods come in different forms. Medicines such as cortisone cremes are to be applied topically. Corticosteroids can also be taken orally or given as steroid injections.

    Steroids usually work very well and results can be seen very fast. For example, the amount of itching and scratching reduces dramatically withing 24 hours of taking Prednisone.

    However, as we all know, steroids can cause a lot of nasty side effects. Therefore steroids should NOT be used for long-term allergy treatment. A general rule of thumb when it comes to using steroids to treat dog allergies is, use as low a dose and potency for as short a period of time as possible. For example, topical use should be considered before oral use or injection.

    If your vet suggests putting your allergic dog on long-term steroid therapy, ask for justification and alternatives. If your vet is unwilling to use other allergy treatment options or incorporate complementary/alternative treatment into his treatment protocol, you may even want to consider finding a vet who is more open to holistic and alternative treatment.
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamine drugs such as Benadryl are the second most common conventional medication to treat canine allergies. Antihistamines are less effective than corticosteroids in treating dog allergies. However, they do not cause as many serious side effects as steroids. (The one main side effect of antihistamines is sedation which is not a big problem for dogs.)
  • Allergy Shots: Allergy shots (hyposensitization) are sometimes given to allergic dogs when other conventional medication does not bring about relief. However, allergy shots are somewhat costly and it takes 12 months to find out if the shots are effective on a particular allergic dog. Thus, in the meantime, if your dog is suffering from allergy symptoms, you still need other allergy relief to alleviate the itchiness and discomfort.

Alternative Dog Allergy Treatment

As the conventional allergy treatment options for dogs are less than perfect, you may want to explore complementary and/or alternative treatment options for your dog. Remember that treating canine allergies does not have to be either conventional or alternative treatment - very often alternative treatment can be used in conjunction with and complement conventional therapy.

There are quite a few alternative treatment options for canine allergies. Please visit our page on Remedies for Dog Allergies for more information.

Criteria for Choosing Dog Allergy Treatment

When deciding how to treat dog allergies, you may want to consider these criteria:
  • Safety: First and foremost, we should choose a treatment option that is as safe as possible for our dogs. The treatment must have minimal or preferably no short- and long-term side effects.
  • Ease of Administration: Another factor to consider is how easy it is to administer the treatment. Does it involve frequent trips to the vet? Is the drug easy to be given to the dog by dog parents? It is not practical and may even be impossible if we have to put up a fight with our dog every time we administer the treatment!
  • Cost: Cost is another important factor because dog allergy treatment can be a long-term process. Therefore, the treatment should be cost effective and affordable by most dog parents.
  • Root Problem: This is a very important factor to consider because we would prefer a treatment that can actually address the root problem and not just cover up the allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, conventional drugs such as corticosteroids and antihistamines do just that - alleviating the allergy symptoms without dealing with the root problem. In fact, long term use of these drugs can even worsen the root problem. Complementary treatment options such as the use of herbs and supplements, on the other hand, usually can do more to address the root problem by strengthening and balancing the body's immune system.
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