By: Amy Randall, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVD
Would you like an all-natural way to manage your pet’s allergies?
Atopic dermatitis (allergies to environmental allergens) is the second most common allergy suffered by dogs and cats. It means animals have developed an allergy to environmental pollens, molds, house dust mites and other common airborne substances. The most common symptoms of canine and feline atopic dermatitis include itching, scratching, licking and excessively chewing the feet, legs and other parts of the body, rubbing on the furniture, carpet or walls, hair loss, foul odor from the skin, scaling and flaking. Atopic dermatitis is genetic and occurs when a pet’s immune system reacts abnormally to allergens which are inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Symptoms can occur only during the spring to fall seasons or all year round. Unfortunately, once pets develop allergies they usually worsen with each year. Pets do not grow out of atopic dermatitis – they allergies worsen with age.
Management of Atopic Dermatitis
There are numerous treatment options for atopic dermatitis. Most of them include medications such as prednisone (steroid), antihistamines, Atopica (cyclosporine), and Apoquel which help provide temporary relief of allergy symptoms. These symptomatic treatments only address the animal’s symptoms and require long-term use with possible long-term adverse side effects. None of these treatment options address the underlying disease or stop the progression of the allergy. Thus your pet’s allergies can gradually worsen over time despite being on these medications.
Now the All Natural Way to Manage Atopic Dermatitis
Allergen specific immunotherapy is the only treatment known to actually alter the course of the disease, rather than mask the symptoms. It builds up your pet’s immunity to allergens through a series of injections or oral drops with increasingly larger doses of an allergy serum specifically formulated to your pet’s sensitivities. This treatment is effective for allergies associated with pollen, molds and house dust mites.
This is NOT a medication but rather is a natural solution that does not “cover up” or suppress your pet’s immune system. Allergen specific immunotherapy works to regulate or normalize the immune system naturally by using small amounts of the naturally-occurring allergen(s). Immunotherapy is believed to change the pet’s actual allergic response and is the only treatment that can prevent a worsening of your pet’s allergies. Over time, immunotherapy can lead to a long–term solution for an animal’s allergies. The best part of immunotherapy is that it has been shown to have no long-term adverse side effects.
How is Allergen Specific Immunotherapy Formulated?
Allergen specific immunotherapy (allergy serum) is formulated based on the results of an allergy test. Allergy testing can be done by either intradermal testing (skin testing) or by blood testing. The test identifies which trees, weeds, grasses, molds and house dust mites are causing the skin problems or allergy symptoms. The gold standard is the intradermal testing. Numerous studies have repeatedly shown this test to be more accurate than blood testing. This form of testing is usually only available through board-certified veterinary dermatologists. These specialists have been trained through residency programs and years of practice to perform and read the test results in order to formulate the serum accurately.
Two Forms of Allergen Specific Immunotherapy Administration
Allergy specific immunotherapy (allergy serum) used to be administered through injections only using small needles with small amounts of the allergy serum injected into the subcutaneous tissue (fatty tissue) on the back of the pet’s neck. Now there is an oral immunotherapy (sublingual drops) option. Oral immunotherapy has been proven to be just as efficacious as injections. It is much easier to administer and readily accepted by the pet. Oral immunotherapy is dispensed out of a pump, right into the pet’s mouth, and then absorbed through the mucous membranes. Typically it is given either once or twice daily.
At our clinic we have had extremely good results with our oral formulations. Many patients are getting relief from their symptoms within a few months of treatment. We are even seeing some patients who have failed injectable immunotherapy have success with oral immunotherapy.
If you would like more information or have questions about allergies, please call us at Animal Allergy and Ear Clinic at 503- 574-4150.
Dr. Randall’s Credo: Why do I still believe in the use of allergen specific immunotherapy for my atopic patients? I am concerned about their long term health and well being. Immunotherapy is not a medication or a drug. It is all natural treatment and has been used for decades on old, young, healthy and debilitated animals without long-term adverse side effects.
I made an oath as a veterinarian that I would, above all, do no harm. In my mind, medications, especially brand new medications with very little research and long term studies, have many unknown side effects which could occur years down the road. I do not want to think I caused the death of one of my patients due to unknown historical side effects of medications for a condition which is not life threatening and can be managed in a very harmless manner through a treatment which has no life threatening side effects.
Bio: Dr. Amy Randall
DVM, MS, Diplomat
After receiving her doctorate of veterinary medicine from North Caroline State University, Dr. Amy Randall practiced general veterinary medicine for a year in Fredricksburg, Virginia. With a deep desire to continue her education, Dr. Randall then completed a two-year internship in veterinary medicine and surgery at Mississippi State University. Her love of schooling and knowledge lead her to spend a term as a clinical instructor of veterinary internal medicine and dermatology. In order to achieve a Master of Science degree, specializing in dermatology, Dr. Randall performed her residency at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology; one of less than 300 board-certified veterinarians in the United States.
Dr. Randall’s currently practices out of two clinics; one located in Beaverton, Oregon and the other in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she travels to once a month to provide dermatological veterinary care to a community that did not offer it.
Additionally, Dr. Randall has formulated, tested, and produced a line of pet treats and pill wraps designed for dogs with food sensitivities. The line is limited ingredient, all natural, and made in the United States at a bakery that is attached to her Beaverton clinic. To learn more about Serenegy, you can visit www.serenegy.com.
When she is not at AAEC, she enjoys traveling, both domestically and internationally, keeping fit by hitting the gym and many jogging trails around Portland, speaking to groups about animal allergy and ear disorders, as well as spending time with her chocolate Labrador, Cole.