The days of treating skin allergies with long term cortisone or anti-rejection drugs and their associated side effects is near to a close.
Whether it's a flea or contact allergy, or a case of breathing in pollens causing a "skin asthma attack" (atopy), Apoquel has quickly become the preferred treatment worldwide for itchy dogs. Now it is available in Australia.
Apoquel has been shown to have similar anti-itching results to cortisone and cyclosporine which have undesirable side effects.It does not cause upset stomachs seen with cyclosporin, and none of the side effects seen with cortisone.
It is more expensive than cortisone but cheaper than cyclosporine. If you eliminate the nasty side effects of cortisone and their treatment, then you are probably going to be spending the same amount on a yearly basis compared to older classical therapies.
If you can see fleas and there is a rash along the top of the lower back above and at the tail base, then it's probably a flea allergy problem. If the rash is on the lower parts of the body, e.g. feet, armpits and groin, then it's probably a contact allergy. Both of these allergy problems tend to be worse in spring and summer. Food allergies only represent approx 1% of itchy dog and cat problems, so they are pretty uncommon. They last all year round compared to flea and contact allergies and atopy which are worse in spring and summer. Cats tend to present with rashes around their face and neck and dogs can look like they have a flea allergy.
If there is a particular cause e.g. fleas or some type of weed growing in the backyard, then removing it will certainly help e.g Wandering Jew. But going for a walk and contacting weeds and grasses, breathing in pollens or getting a hitch hiker flea, is not so easily prevented.
To minimise the body's allergic response, vets have relied on cortisone therapy. However, long term use and high doses result in undesirable side effects e.g. drinking and weeing a lot (polydipsia), swollen livers, diabetes, cushing's disease.
To avoid these nasty side effects, some dogs have been placed on alternative drugs to minimise their allergic reactions. Classically, this has been Cyclosporine (an anti-rejection drug used in humans for kidney, liver and heart transplants). Cyclosporine can commonly cause upset stomachs and is very expensive.
Talk to us today about how Apoquel may be the treatment for itching that your dog has been looking for. At this stage Apoquel is only registered for Dogs.