Things that dogs are allergic to are called allergens and include:
- House dust mites
- Mould spores
When dogs breath in, or come in contact with these allergens, they break out in a very itchy skin rash. The technical term for these dogs is atopic.
Atopy is diagnosed by ruling out other diseases with similar signs and by demonstrating an allergic reaction to allergens using injections in the skin (sensitivity testing).
Once a dog has had its suspected allergens discovered, the dermatologist makes a vaccine with the same allergens in it. The vaccine is injected back into the dog, starting at a millionth of a dose and gradually building up the strength. After a while, the dog’s body gets used to these allergens and stops reacting (de-sensitising programme).
These tests and vaccines can cost several hundred dollars so often owners look for other ways to treat their dogs. They must be aware that they are aiming for reasonable relief from the itching- not a cure. There will be set backs along the way and various trials of different medications have to be tried to see what does and does not work.
- An alternative to de-sensitising vaccines is to use an oral medicaton Atopica (cyclosporine)
At BHVG, we place suspected atopic dogs on a combination of:
- Regular shampoos (Dermcare brands only)
- Evening Primrose Oil
- Some dogs require a 4-6 week course of antibiotics and low doses of cortisone tablets