Treating Dog Scratching with Allergy Hyposensitization Injections

Itchy skin and dog scratching may be caused by allergies. The allergens need to be detected in order to get a proper treatment. Allergy shots or hyposensitization injections may reduce the allergic reaction and prevent the itchiness.

Possible Allergens

Dog scratching and itching may be caused by a number of allergies including:

  • Airborne allergens such as pollens, dust or mold
  • Chemicals
  • Sun
  • Food
  • Contact with toxic plants
  • Contact with different materials (i.e., nylon)

In order to determine the exact allergen, the dog needs to get allergy testing. Allergy testing may be of two types:

  • Blood testing - a sample of blood is tested for allergic reaction for different possible allergens
  • Skin patch-testing - the dog is injected with small amounts of allergens and the vet observes if there are any allergic reactions present on the skin

Skin Patch-Testing

Skin patch-testing, also known as intradermal testing, consists of shots of allergens. The vet will inject one allergen at a time and see if there are any allergic reactions on the skin. The allergic reaction should occur in 5 to 6 hours after the injection. This method may take a lot of testing and time, and is also a costly procedure. Consequently, it's important that you observe your pet and see if you suspect any possible allergens, so that the vet may inject these allergens first.

If the allergen is detected, a hyposensitization vaccine can be prepared for your pet.

You can also reduce your dog’s exposure to the allergens, as much as possible.

The Hyposensitization Vaccine

If the source of allergens is identified, the dog’s allergies may be controlled with antihistamines, corticosteroids or allergy shots. The allergy shots are more efficient, as antihistamines or corticosteroid medications offer only temporary relief and may also have side effects.

A hyposensitization vaccine is prepared after the skin testing. This contains amounts of the allergens causing the negative reactions in your dog.

The dog will get the first hyposensitization vaccine and one more shot in the first month of treatment, followed by one injection per month. The vaccine will only be effective after 1 to 2 months of treatment.

In time, the dog will develop immunity to these allergens, and the allergic reactions will be minimal or non-existent. A dog may be fully treated or less sensitive to allergens in 6 months or more, depending on his immune system.

The hyposensitization injections may be used in conjunction with steroid treatment, if the allergies are severe. Steroids can have side effects. However, research shows that more than half of the dogs treated with injections were taken off steroids and experienced no more allergies.

If the allergies are left untreated, dog scratching can lead to bald patches. In addition, the dog may lick the itchy areas. The dog's saliva carries a lot of harmful bacteria that may lead to infections.

Allergies are very unpleasant for dogs, and you need to find a suitable treatment to relieve them. Hyposensitization injections are efficient in reducing the allergy symptoms, and may even treat the allergies.