Yes! Pollen season has once again descended upon us. That means itchy dogs are pouring through our doors. There is some great news however! Apoquel, though still being sent out on allocation basis, is MUCH more available for us to use in dogs! This is the first year we are able to make use of it for all appropriate cases of allergic dermatitis to manage itch levels rather than having to pick and choose selecting only the worst of the worst. The AWESOME thing about this medication is it is NOT a steroid so no excessive thirst, hunger and urination issues as there is when giving a steroid. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t work as well or takes longer…… this is the magical part….. it works to control itch levels AS FAST AS steroids unlike the other allergy medications that can take a month or 2 to get the itchies under control. By not having the side effects of steroids it is also safe to use on a long term basis. There are a couple things that will affect whether or not your dog is able to have this medication….. if there is a history of cancer it is not recommended as it DOES still suppress the immune system which could allow the cancer to return or grow faster. It has also been seen in some pets that have a tendency to develop papiloma growths that these can be “triggered” to grow on Apoquel and they may or may not go away if the medication is stopped. These are benign growths but can prove annoying when they become numerous.
Here are some good tips and tricks that you can do at home to help manage dogs with mild allergies:
- Try to avoid walking or allowing your pet to spend long periods of time at peak pollen times (this tends to be in the very early morning or late evening).
- Wipe your paws! Wiping down the paws and even coat of your dog with a damp towel when they come in from outside can greatly reduce the concentration of pollen on their skin where it will absorb into their body.
- Frequent bathing…… you may think it is bad to bathe your dog too often but that is only true if you are using a harsh, soapy shampoo. Bathing with aloe and oatmeal shampoos can be done twice a week to soothe the skin and keep your dog comfortable. CONTACT TIME!!! 10 minutes (on the clock) is needed for the full benefit…. play a quick game of fetch or go for a short walk while the shampoo is doing it’s thing before rinsing. These non-soap shampoos will not inferfere with most topical flea medications (except Fipronil based products as they will decrease until the oil glands refill about 48 hours after the bath making these products less than ideal for flea prevention during peak allergy season).
- Keep up on your flea control!!!! EVERY month! We may not be able to control pollen counts but we CAN keep flea bites from adding to our problems.
- Over the counter antihistamines can work in some pets. Call us for the ideal dose and frequency for your dog.
- Fish oil supplementation! Correct levels of Omega 3s and 6s can nourish the skin from the inside out keeping the body’s natural barrier is optimal health. It also has an added benefit as an anti-inflammatory for the body.
- Believe it or not, probiotics can help too. The majority of the body’s immune system is in the GI tract and if we keep that working at it’s peak the body is best prepared to deal with many other issues also.
Hopefully, together, we can keep your furry friend from being miserable during this allergy season. As always, call us if you have any questions or concerns.