The Three Most Common Allergy Medicines for Dogs
There are four main types of allergy in dogs: flea, food, contact and transdermal or inhalant allergies, also known as atopy or atopic dermatitis. Atopy essentially means environmental allergies; where a dog has a surplus of histamine due to high concentrations of pollen in the air, leading to pesky symptoms that include itching, scratching, biting, and chewing.
Just like humans, environmental allergy indicators pop up seasonally, however sometimes symptoms cross-over from food allergies or other catalysts, so consult your vet before dosing your dog. (If you’re concerned about food allergies, talk to your vet, and check out our article with NomNomNow here.)
Popular Anti-Allergy Choices for Pups
- OTC Antihistamines: Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec
These over-the-counter choices work well for environmental allergies but come with a myriad of side effects, and vets even claim that they’re only effective in 30% of dogs. Furthermore, while they may work in the beginning, they may lose effectiveness over time. More than a few sites also called attention to the fact that Collies and other herding breeds may have a genetic mutation that makes certain OTC drugs very dangerous. So, always check with your veterinarian before administering human medications.
Side effects include sedation, especially in pets who are already on anti-depressants, certain pain relievers and seizure medications. Note that the dosage is never the same as it is for humans, and cost is anywhere from $5 – $20 depending on your retailer and quantity purchased.
The not-messing-around option is much stronger: corticosteroids (also called “allergy shots” unless they’re taken orally). Steroids are much more effective at treating allergy symptoms but can come with risky side effects. They cannot be used without the direction of a vet, and you will have to have your pet tested. The good news? Allergy shots have up to an 80% success rate! The bad news? It can take 6 to 9 months to start seeing results. However, the ultimate pro is that your pet will eventually see relief. A prescription for oral meds administered at home may cost around $40 for a 30-day supply, whereas vet visits for an injection may cost $50 to $150 each time.
Surprisingly, Apoquel is not a steroid, cyclosporine or antihistamine. Instead, it belongs to a class of drugs called “Janus kinase inhibitors,” which work on the brain signals that result in itching and inflammation and suppress the overactive immune system. The official side effects: “Apoquel may increase susceptibility to infection, including demodicosis (mange). It may also exacerbate neoplastic conditions (growths). Adverse reactions reported in a masked field study included diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia, new cutaneous or subcutaneous lumps, and lethargy.” The capsules are easy to administer, and for a medium to large size dog, this will cost approximately $3 per pill (Rx of 28 pills comes to a total of $84).
Enroll your kitten or puppy early so chronic conditions like allergies will be covered as long as symptoms were not present upon signing up. Find out how Healthy Paws pet parents not only get their furry four-legged friends some much needed relief but also save money by getting a free quote.