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What is Allergy?

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy

One of the benefits to identifying environmental allergens through allergy testing, is that this allows a special type of therapy, known as allergen-specific immunotherapy (or sometimes ‘allergy shots’), to be created specifically for your dog. 

Immunotherapy is sometimes referred to as desensitisation therapy and it is a unique treatment for allergic diseases.

Immunotherapy is considered the gold standard treatment by dermatologists because it is the only treatment that addresses the underlying cause, ie the body's immune response to allergens. 

Immunotherapy involves administering increasing doses of allergen extracts over a certain time period, usually 12 months and beyond. The goal is to retrain the immune system to not see allergens as dangerous substances that trigger inflammation. The objective is to make your pet’s immune system less sensitive or not sensitive at all to those allergens. As a result, the allergic reaction and the associated symptoms will decrease or disappear. As such, it is the only treatment that can change, or reverse, the actual cause of the allergy, as well as improving symptoms and potentially preventing progression of the disease. 

Each therapy is tailor made based upon your dog’s own individual allergy test results, their clinical history and the relevance of the allergens to their local environment; it’s not always necessary to include every allergen that scored positive on their test results. 

Immunotherapy is an effective treatment normally given by a small injection into the scruff of the neck. More frequent injections (every 2-3 weeks) are required over the first 13-weeks (the induction period) but then drop to a maintenance dose of once every 4 weeks. 

Depending on the individual case, your vet may be happy (once at the maintenance level and you are fully trained) for you to administer this therapy yourself at home. 

Immunotherapy is a prescription medication so if you are interested in treating your pet with it, contact your veterinary surgeon.

Is immunotherapy expensive?

Compared to other prescription medications, immunotherapy is actually one of the most cost effective treatments. 

After paying for the allergy test, there is an initial cost upfront when the therapy is ordered, but beyond that there are no more monthly fees for further treatment. You therefore know what the cost will be for 10 months treatment from the start.

Another benefit is that the cost does not increase with the size of the animal. With other medications, you need a higher dose the bigger the animal, and this means it is more expensive to treat. With immunotherapy, the dose is the same for all animals so the cost remains the same. 

The only thing that affects the cost per treatment is the number of allergens included in the vaccine. If you dog is allergic to 5 or more allergens and your vet thinks it prudent to include them all in the vaccine, there may be a slightly higher cost involved than for a vaccine with 1-4 allergens.

Is immunotherapy safe?

Immunotherapy is very safe. 

It is uncommon for animals to experience serious side effects as a result of administering the vaccine. The most common side effects include mild and transitory itching. 

If your pet does experience any side effects, eg increased itching after each injection or increased injection 1 week before the next scheduled injection, it is possible to alter the dosage or frequency of administration to help ease these symptoms.

What to expect from Immunotherapy?

While every pet responds differently to any given medication, immunotherapy is proven to have a successful and very high efficacy rate, with 75% of pets improving after starting the treatment. Most pets show improvements within a few months, but in some cases it can take up to 12 months until you see noticeable results. 

Optimum results can be achieved by using concurrent topical therapy to help support the skin barrier, remove allergens from the coat and maintain a healthy balance of skin microflora. 

A very small percentage may not improve significantly enough. If your pet turns out to be one of these cases, it is critical that you work closely with your vet to find alternative treatment options. 

Fleas, food allergy, secondary skin infections or other factors can contribute to a lack of improvement, so it is important to have regular check-ups, especially during the first year of treatment. 

Occasionally, it can be necessary to change the dosage and interval. In some cases, it may be beneficial to retest with the Next+ blood test, if it is suspected your pet has developed new allergies.

My pet is now taking other types of medication for allergy, does that help?

There are a number of drugs to help control your pet’s allergy symptoms, such as steroids, cyclosporine (atopica, cyclavance, modulis), oclacitinib (apoquel) and lokivetmab (cytopoint). 

If your pet is taking any other allergy medication or your vet has recommended them, they can be given together with immunoherapy. These drugs are a very good option for controlling itching, especially in the first stages when your vet is trying to confirm if it is really an allergy or when starting immunotherapy to make sure your pet’s symptoms are under control. 

However the negative side of these drugs is that they do not treat the allergy itself, they only block the body’s initiative to scratch. This means that your pet will continue to be allergic and its immune system will still be reacting to these allergens, you will just not notice the signs. If theses medications are withdrawn, the itching will almost certainly return very quickly. 

In the long-term this can create serious problems, other diseases appear where the main symptom is also itching or scratching, for example skin and ear infections, you will not be able to notice that something is wrong and your pet’s condition can worsen. In addition, some of them come with serious side effects when given for a long period of time and they can be expensive, particularly for larger pets or if given at a higher dose which is often necessary.

Immunotherapy Compared To Other Forms Of Treatment

Menu

What is Allergy?

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy

One of the benefits to identifying environmental allergens through allergy testing, is that this allows a special type of therapy, known as allergen-specific immunotherapy (or sometimes ‘allergy shots’), to be created specifically for your dog. 

Immunotherapy is sometimes referred to as desensitisation therapy and it is a unique treatment for allergic diseases.

Immunotherapy is considered the gold standard treatment by dermatologists because it is the only treatment that addresses the underlying cause, ie the body's immune response to allergens. 

Immunotherapy involves administering increasing doses of allergen extracts over a certain time period, usually 12 months and beyond. The goal is to retrain the immune system to not see allergens as dangerous substances that trigger inflammation. The objective is to make your pet’s immune system less sensitive or not sensitive at all to those allergens. As a result, the allergic reaction and the associated symptoms will decrease or disappear. As such, it is the only treatment that can change, or reverse, the actual cause of the allergy, as well as improving symptoms and potentially preventing progression of the disease. 

Each therapy is tailor made based upon your dog’s own individual allergy test results, their clinical history and the relevance of the allergens to their local environment; it’s not always necessary to include every allergen that scored positive on their test results. 

Immunotherapy is an effective treatment normally given by a small injection into the scruff of the neck. More frequent injections (every 2-3 weeks) are required over the first 13-weeks (the induction period) but then drop to a maintenance dose of once every 4 weeks. 

Depending on the individual case, your vet may be happy (once at the maintenance level and you are fully trained) for you to administer this therapy yourself at home. 

Immunotherapy is a prescription medication so if you are interested in treating your pet with it, contact your veterinary surgeon.

Is immunotherapy expensive?

Compared to other prescription medications, immunotherapy is actually one of the most cost effective treatments. 

After paying for the allergy test, there is an initial cost upfront when the therapy is ordered, but beyond that there are no more monthly fees for further treatment. You therefore know what the cost will be for 10 months treatment from the start.

Another benefit is that the cost does not increase with the size of the animal. With other medications, you need a higher dose the bigger the animal, and this means it is more expensive to treat. With immunotherapy, the dose is the same for all animals so the cost remains the same. 

The only thing that affects the cost per treatment is the number of allergens included in the vaccine. If you dog is allergic to 5 or more allergens and your vet thinks it prudent to include them all in the vaccine, there may be a slightly higher cost involved than for a vaccine with 1-4 allergens.

Is immunotherapy safe?

Immunotherapy is very safe. 

It is uncommon for animals to experience serious side effects as a result of administering the vaccine. The most common side effects include mild and transitory itching. 

If your pet does experience any side effects, eg increased itching after each injection or increased injection 1 week before the next scheduled injection, it is possible to alter the dosage or frequency of administration to help ease these symptoms.

What to expect from Immunotherapy?

While every pet responds differently to any given medication, immunotherapy is proven to have a successful and very high efficacy rate, with 75% of pets improving after starting the treatment. Most pets show improvements within a few months, but in some cases it can take up to 12 months until you see noticeable results. 

Optimum results can be achieved by using concurrent topical therapy to help support the skin barrier, remove allergens from the coat and maintain a healthy balance of skin microflora. 

A very small percentage may not improve significantly enough. If your pet turns out to be one of these cases, it is critical that you work closely with your vet to find alternative treatment options. 

Fleas, food allergy, secondary skin infections or other factors can contribute to a lack of improvement, so it is important to have regular check-ups, especially during the first year of treatment. 

Occasionally, it can be necessary to change the dosage and interval. In some cases, it may be beneficial to retest with the Next+ blood test, if it is suspected your pet has developed new allergies.

My pet is now taking other types of medication for allergy, does that help?

There are a number of drugs to help control your pet’s allergy symptoms, such as steroids, cyclosporine (atopica, cyclavance, modulis), oclacitinib (apoquel) and lokivetmab (cytopoint). 

If your pet is taking any other allergy medication or your vet has recommended them, they can be given together with immunoherapy. These drugs are a very good option for controlling itching, especially in the first stages when your vet is trying to confirm if it is really an allergy or when starting immunotherapy to make sure your pet’s symptoms are under control. 

However the negative side of these drugs is that they do not treat the allergy itself, they only block the body’s initiative to scratch. This means that your pet will continue to be allergic and its immune system will still be reacting to these allergens, you will just not notice the signs. If theses medications are withdrawn, the itching will almost certainly return very quickly. 

In the long-term this can create serious problems, other diseases appear where the main symptom is also itching or scratching, for example skin and ear infections, you will not be able to notice that something is wrong and your pet’s condition can worsen. In addition, some of them come with serious side effects when given for a long period of time and they can be expensive, particularly for larger pets or if given at a higher dose which is often necessary.

Immunotherapy Compared To Other Forms Of Treatment