Prescription Dog Allergies Treatments

Allergies treatments for dogs can combine a number of different strategies, including more scrupulous housecleaning and more frequent grooming. Sometimes prescription medications can be used to relieve your dog's most severe allergy attacks.

Let's look at the different types of prescription treatments available for canine allergies so you'll be able to have an intelligent discussion with your veterinarian when he or she begins discussing medication as an option.

Topical Medications Soothe and Heal Skin

Topical medications, such as hydrocortisone or gentomicin (Gentocin), are put on a dog's skin to help relieve itching, hot spots and other skin disorders. They can be ointments, creams or shampoos that offer fast relief. These types of medication can also be used as part of a longer-term treatment plan to help heal damaged skin and alleviate itching.

Another Solution for Allergic Skin Problems

A recently introduced medication called Atopica (cyclosporine A) may help relieve atopic dermatitis in some dogs. The capsules are given daily and help combat the itchiness, hair loss, irritation and other signs caused by atopic dermatitis, the most common canine skin condition from allergies. The main ingredient in Atopica helps suppress the immune system as a way of treating allergies. Possible side effects of Atopica include stomach upset, enlarged gum tissue and papillomas in the mouth.

Antihistamines Treat a Variety of Signs

Antihistamines help control a variety of allergic signs in dogs. These medications help block the production of histamine, a chemical that an allergic dog's body produces in response to exposure to an allergen. They are effective if used as part of an overall treatment plan that includes allergen avoidance and dietary supplements, such as Omega-3 fatty acids and biotin.

Some commonly prescribed antihistamines are chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and hydroxyzine (Atarax). Be aware of potential side effects, such as diarrhea, drowsiness, dry mouth and lack of energy.

Steroids Help Relieve Itching

In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe a short-term steroid treatment to help relieve irritated skin and itching. Steroids, such as dexamethasone, methylprednisolone and triamcinolone, should not be part of a long-term allergy treatment plan because they can cause organ damage if used for an extended period of time.

Allergy Shots Treat the Condition Over Time

Your veterinarian may recommend allergy shots to help combat your dog's allergies. This series of injections are a six- to 12-month solution to the allergy condition. They administer small amounts of the allergen that causes your dog to have a reaction, and they are a way for your dog's immune system to develop a defense against the allergen.

Allergy shots are not always effective (they are ineffective for about 25 percent of dogs) and they take months to show their effectiveness, but they can be a solution if other medications don't help control your pet's allergies.

Medications, Allergen Avoidance Work Together

The best medications in the world won't truly help your allergic dog if he's still exposed to the allergen consistently. Take steps to make his home environment as allergen-free as possible, to give the medications the best chance of helping him feel better.