For a long time, steroids such as prednisone have been the norm in veterinary medicine for treating allergies. Steroids are affordable, pack a punch, and get allergies under control fast. Unfortunately, they also tend to come with a whole bunch of side effects, especially when used long-term.
Fortunately, over the past few years, two new allergy medications have hit the veterinary world that make steroids a thing of the past for most patients.
Steroids vs Modern Meds
If you think about your dog’s immune system like a house with all the lights on, then you can imagine steroids showing up and turning all the lights down low. Now the whole immune system is suppressed, which sets your dog up for problems like infections, hair loss, weight gain, and muscle loss.
Unlike steroids, newer allergy medications target the part of your dog’s immune system that is responsible for allergies. These medications are more specific, so they show up to the house and turn off the switch that causes itchy and inflamed skin. The rest of the lights in the house stay on, which means your dog’s immune system is otherwise functioning normally.
Modern Med #1: Apoquel (tablet)
Apoquel is a daily tablet for allergy control that is highly effective for most dogs. Although extremely rare, Apoquel can potentially over-suppress the immune system, so we like to check blood work shortly after starting the medication. If these results are normal, then yearly monitoring is recommended.
Modern Med #2: Cytopoint (injection)
Cytopoint works in a similar way to Apoquel, but it is an injection that is given at the veterinary clinic. Injections are typically needed on a monthly basis, although some individuals can go longer between shots. Blood work is usually not needed for this medication.
Choosing Between Cytopoint & Apoquel
Both of these medications are highly effective with a low rate of side effects. The decision largely comes down to convenience. Do you prefer to give a tablet everyday, with the need for blood work, or would you rather come into the clinic once a month for an injection?
The price of these medications tends to be close, although having a very large or very small dog can make a bigger difference. In some cases, dogs will respond to one medication but not the other. The only way to know is with a trial.
If your dog is itchy, then please call to make an appointment at one of our four locations in Henderson or Boulder City. If allergies are diagnosed, then these two modern allergy meds could be the relief that you and your dog have been looking for.