Allergies are not curable, but they are treatable. There are many different medications that can be used to treat allergies. This handout will outline an allergy treatment that is used as a first-line treatment. This conservative treatment will control mild allergies, only. Many animals with allergies will need stronger medications or alternative forms of treatment (for example: special diet or allergy hyposensitization injections).
The starting point of any allergy treatment is the “3-Way” treatment, consisting of:
1) An antihistamine, given 2 or 3 times daily.
2) A Fatty acid supplement, at high dose, daily.
3) Bathing with a hypoallergenic, soap-free shampoo, once or twice weekly.
These three things, in combination, can control mild allergies, and can be beneficial even in more severe allergies. However, more severe allergies will need additional treatments, as well. It may take up to one month to see how effective this combination will be for your pet. The “3-Way” treatment is very safe for your pet, and has minimal to no long-term side effects for your pet. The antihistamine may cause drowsiness, which will be mild for some, and more pronounced for others.
Antihistamines block the effect of a chemical called histamine, which is produced during the allergic reaction. Histamine causes the swelling, itchiness, and redness associated with allergies. Antihistamines reduce the effects of histamine, but do not block it completely. As with people, each individual animal will have some antihistamines that are more effective for them, and some that do not seem to work well at all. If one antihistamine does not seem to help your pet after 2 weeks, or makes your pet too drowsy, try a different one from the list. Antihistamines are generally safe, other than causing drowsiness. Certain antihistamines should be avoided with some medical problems (like glaucoma).
SEE THE LIST OF ANTIHISTAMINE OPTIONS
2) FATTY ACID SUPPLEMENTS
Dose: 180mg of EPA for each 10 pounds of body weight, daily.
Recommended product: Derma-3 (used at twice the label dosage)
Fatty acid supplements, primarily Omega-3 fatty acids, are beneficial for allergies and other conditions. These products have been used for a long time in skin conditions, and there are many products available on the market. Our knowledge of the effectiveness of these products has changed over the last few years, and we are now using 5-6 times the dosage that we used to use. This higher dosage is beneficial for inflammatory conditions such as allergies, arthritis, inflammation of the organs, and other areas. Many older products have a label dose that is far too low to be significantly beneficial.
Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily EPA and DHA, are the primary active oils. They are known to be protective against some of the negative effects of inflammation, and (at the proper dosage) have some anti-inflammatory action themselves. There are other fatty acid supplements out there, the ideal one is one that is has a fish oil source.
The dose is based on the level of EPA (Eicosapentanoic acid) in the product.
Dose: 180mg EPA per 10 pounds of body weight, once daily. This can be adjusted up or down a bit, depending upon the strength of the product that you are using.
There are many of these products, both prescription and over-the-counter, and some foods that contain these components. There are a number of good veterinary products available, but the label dose is not always the therapeutic dose.
As Omega-3 fatty acids have become more popular, there has been an explosion of products available, in all price ranges.
A word of caution…an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement is not a drug, and is not regulated by the FDA. It is considered a nutritional supplement, and therefore has much more lenient guidelines regarding its manufacturing. In addition, companies do not have to prove that their product consistently has the amount of active ingredient that the product has on the label. Nor do they have to prove that it is in a form that can be absorbed or used by the body. Many of the over-the-counter products do not have the right amount, or it is in a form that the body can’t absorb or use. Other than this concern, the products are not harmful, and don’t contain a significant amount of calories.
That being said, I would rather have patients on an over-the-counter product, than on nothing at all.
3) BATHING WITH A SOAP-FREE SHAMPOO
Routine bathing: Hyliderm
Antimicrobial: Ketoseb PS
Routine bathing of the allergic dog helps to remove pollen, dust, and other allergens from their coat, and therefore, reduces the pet’s exposure to those allergens.
Weekly bathing is the ideal starting point, however some pets will need twice weekly bathing during the seasons when allergies are the worst (spring and fall, mainly). Also, using a hypoallergenic cream rinse after bathing can enhance or extend the effect of these products.
The shampoo that you use should be a soap-free shampoo, in order to be used this frequently. Shampoos with soaps or detergents tend to strip necessary oils from your pet’s skin and coat, and can make things worse for your pet. Some people tend to use too much, because they feel better seeing the shampoo lather up. Soap free shampoos do not lather up like shampoos with detergents.
IMPORTANT: Follow the directions on the product label. Most of these products work best if they are in contact with the pet’s skin for 5-10 minutes before rinsing!
Other ingredients that may be beneficial include:
ANESTHETICS: Pramoxine, Lidocaine, Benzocaine, Capsaicin
ASTRINGENTS: colloidal oatmeal, Hammamelis
ANTIMICROBIALS: Chlorhexidine, miconazole, Ethyl lactate, Bezoyl Peroxide
EMOLLIENTS & HUMECTANTS : Oils, EFA’s, spherulites, liposomes, urea, glycerin, lactic acid
OTHER PRODUCTS: Phytosphingosine (found in the Douxo products and Ketoseb PS)