Dog Allergies – Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)

The best treatment for an allergic dog is to identify the cause and remove it from the environment.  I remember testing one Golden retriever and learning he was allergic to wool.  The owner got rid of the wool carpeting and wool blanket on his bed and he was cured.  Unfortunately, not all allergens can be removed.  For these cases, I recommend Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (ASIT).  Although it is costly, this treatment has the fewest long-term side effects for the dog.

A small amount of the offending allergens are made into a vaccine that is injected into the dog.  The concentration of these allergens starts out low and builds as the dog becomes less and less sensitive to them.  About seventy-five percent of the dogs treated will improve. 

When I place a dog on ASIT, I send the owners home with the following directions:
1) Follow the injection schedule carefully.  Do not alter it without talking to your veterinarian.  A sudden change might undo everything. 
2) After giving the injection, observe your dog for three hours.  In rare cases, dogs may suffer allergic reactions that need emergency treatment.  I had one patient that got hives everytime the concentration was increased.
3) Keep the vials refrigerated.  If they are left out, the allergen might decompose and/or bacteria might colonize the vial.
4) Be patient!  It may take up to one year before any positive effects are seen.  During this time, the pet might still require other therapies to keep them comfortable.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.