Using Cyclosporine for Dogs with Allergies

Dogs with allergies can be treated successfully with a new medication called Cyclosporine. Cyclosporine is also known as Atopica and has been used to treat immune problems in animals. Dogs with skin allergies caused by inhaled irritants such as pollen, dust mites and grasses respond well when treated with cyclosporine although dogs with allergies caused by food or flea bites don’t.

Cyclosporine for Dogs

Cyclosporine is an oral prescription medication that’s expensive when compared with other medications such as prednisone and dexamethasone. It is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but it’s prescribed as an extra label drug by veterinarians. It is the medication of choice as it is safer than other medications with fewer and less severe side effects. Cyclosporine is sold under the name of Atopica and is available in capsule, injectible and suspension form for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

Cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant that acts by suppressing the release of specific chemicals known as interleukins by white blood cells. This is a slow release medication that’s absorbed consistently by the digestive tract and is effective for a longer duration. It is considered safe for the treatment of chronic allergies.

Cyclosporine Side Effects

Side effects associated with cyclosporine include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Excessive growth of the gums known as gingival hyperplasia
  • Formation of warts
  • Formation of calluses on footpads 
  • Swollen and red ear flaps

Dosage of Cyclosporine

Cyclosporine should be administered 2 hours before or after meals and as prescribed by the vet. It’s available in 25 mg and 100 mg tablets and in 10, 25, 50 and 100 mg emulsion form. The recommended dosage is 1.5 to 3 mg per pound of the pet’s weight twice daily. The duration of administration depends upon several factors such as the condition that has to be treated, the pet’s response to the medication and the manifestation of any adverse side effects. It’s important not to miss a dose. In case you do, you should administer the medication immediately unless it is too close to the time of the next dose in which case it should not be administered.

Cyclosporine should be stored in its container at room temperature and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. It’s important to complete the treatment to ensure prevention of resistance or a relapse.

Precautions When Using Cyclosporine

Cyclosporine should not be administered to dogs that are to be bred, pregnant pets or nursing dogs. It should also not be administered to a pet with hypersensitivity to this drug or to a pet with kidney disease, liver disease, cancer or stomach ulcers. Since cyclosporine interacts with many other drugs, your vet should be informed of the other medications that are being administered to your pet, in order to prevent complications.

Cyclosporine takes at least a month to be effective. Once clinical improvement is observed, the dosage may be reduced. If there is no improvement after a month, it’s best to discontinue its usage.