dog allergy dogThe road is long With many a winding turn That leads us to who knows where.

Isn’t that sometimes how we feel when a loved one or our dog is suffering a long term sickness.  Unless your dog has a long term illness such as a major dog allergy making it itch every spare moment of its life, you will not know this feeling for real.

Theoretically it should be an easy one to solve, but if you have had a casual look at the many articles on this site, ‘ curing’ or helping resolve major dog allergies is anything but simple, and often a life-long quest.  That is the way it is with me and my dog.

And more than being cathartic, writing the articles for this site had helped me discover many useful things about dog allergies.

The value of allergy shots for dogs – desensitization

I have mentioned allergy shots a few times before but it doesn’t hurt to update our knowledge or even read about them for the first time.

If you are flush with funds and will do anything for your dog, then this might be the path to go, but remember that many dog insurances don’t cover these, they are expensive and they often don’t work.

hypo-sensitization / immunotherapy. is used to stimulate the production of IgG ( a class of immunoglobulins   in the blood, that help with the destruction of microorganisms foreign to the body),  You want IgG to be produced as it attaches to the ‘perceived’ allergen, which then stop IgE from attaching to this same allergen.   The reason you want this is that if there is no IgE attached to the allergen, the mast cells in your dogs body do not release histamine which causes the allergy reaction (itching).

Much better to thwart this reaction at the start rather than try and solve it once histamines have been created by taking anti histamines.

THIS all sounds great right?

So the process for all this to happen at the vets is to give your dog a ‘RAST test’ which is an array of pin pricks that contain the allergens.  The pin pricks that then swell the most are the allergens that your dog is most allergic to, and the ones that will cause the itching and all the other reactions.

Once you have identified the allergens from the standard grid of options, they then regularly inject these allergens into your dog to build up a resistance to them.

Very few dogs have adverse reactions to small amounts of the allergens being injected, and the whole treatment might be once a week for 3 or 4 months.

they say that ” expect some improvement 60% of the time”.

The point is that it doesn’t cure a dog, it just gives some relief, and then it is used in conjunction of avoidance  (can do if its grass and your dog goes to the dog park)  and then a antihistamine or cortisone, or Atopica (brand name treatment), but at a reduced dose.

Now anti histamine is ok for use during hay fever season but you don’t want your dog on it for life. Cortisone has many serious side effects so again only used sparingly by good vets.

if you have the time and inclination, the RAST test and desensitization shots might be a way to go for you and your dog. But they will rarely get anywhere near total reduction of symptoms.