Pros and cons of shots to cure your dog's allergies

October 13, 2015

Your dog's seasonal allergies can cause chronic ear issues, hair loss and itchiness, but the right allergy shots could eliminate these frustrating symptoms. These allergy shots are specially formulated to make your dog less sensitive to specific allergens, which will help diminish symptoms over time. However, allergy shots most be administered regularly and can be quite expensive.

Pros and cons of shots to cure your dog's allergies

1. Allergy testing for dogs

  • Before any shots are administered, your veterinarian will verify that your dog has seasonal allergies.
  • Some veterinarians will require an elimination diet to make sure that there aren't any foods causing the allergy symptoms.
  • The veterinarian will also look for classic environmental allergy symptoms, like itchy skin, a runny nose and excessive hair loss.
  • Then, a veterinarian will administer either an intradermal skin test or blood test to check for the specific seasonal allergies that your dog may have.
  • Not only will these tests verify the presence of allergies, but they will help your veterinarian determine which allergy shots will be most effective for your dog.

2. Effectiveness of canine allergy shots

  • According to The Pet Health Library, there's a 50 per cent chance that your dog will respond well to a series of allergy shots that are properly administered.
  • However, 25 per cent of dogs will not have their allergies symptoms improve. The remaining 25 per cent will have mixed results after undergoing allergy shots.
  • A series of allergy shots can last up to one year before your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog is responding to them.
  • In most cases, you can administer the injections yourself.
  • The first series of shots may be administered twice a week, but as the treatment progresses, your dog may only receive an injection every two to three weeks.
  • To maintain the effectiveness of the shots, they must be administered for the remaining lifetime of your pet. If your dog responds well to treatment, its allergies should be greatly diminished or even eliminated for life.

3. Alternatives to allergy shots

  • If you're not interested in administering allergy shots, you may choose to manage your dog's allergies with antihistamines, environmental control and topical treatments.
  • Your dog may also undergo a series of steroid injections to reduce allergy symptoms. However, steroids must be used for no more than three to four months due to the potential for side effects like obesity, mange and diabetes.
  • Some dogs respond well to cyclosporine, which reduces the need for steroids.

4. The final analysis

  • Allergy shots can be a great way to permanently treat your dog's seasonal allergies.
  • But allergy shots also require an enormous time commitment and can cost over $1,000 each year.
  • Also, there's no guarantee that your dog will respond positively to treatment. However, if you're ready to take the chance, discuss allergy shots with your veterinarian or canine dermatologist to find out if they're appropriate for your dog.
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