April 4, 2017
Today, I had a very good question from one of my clients. As we were talking about their pet's allergies, discussing all the options for relief, and finally coming down to allergy testing immunotherapy, the question was asked: "Well, if Cytopoint works so well, why would we absolutely need to do allergy testing? If the Cytopoint is working, why do we need to get rid of the allergy?"
Well, that's a very good question. After all, isn't itching the main problem with allergies? If we can stop the itching isn't that enough? Well there are several parts to that answer question. First of all, what happens if the very medication that is curing all of our pet's itching suddenly is unavailable? That same thing happened with Apoquel when it first came out. It helped many pets that were itching, but it wasn't very long before supply became a problem. Suddenly, pets who relied upon it to relieve the itching could no longer receive the medication. You never know when supply may become a problem with any given medication. I've seen this many times during my years of practice.
Another problem with just using medication to stop the itch is that it's doing simply that - just stopping the itch, and not treating the underlying problem. Put it this way: If you break a bone, are you going to just keep taking pain medication, or are you going to try to fix your broken bone? In the same way, if your dog has allergies, you should aim to fix the allergies, not just the itching.
Allergy testing followed by immunotherapy is the only way to actually reverse the course of the disease. Don't get me wrong, new medications such as Apoquel and Cytopoint are absolute game-changers in our treatment of allergies for dogs. Nothing works as well to stop the itch as quickly and safely as these medications. But I see them as a short-term "Band-Aid", not a long-term solution. Ideally, stop your dog's itch with these medications, and allow allergy testing and immunotherapy to fix it in the long run. Immunotherapy is all-natural, actually reverses the course of the disease, and can even prevent future additional allergies from developing!
Dr. Kristin Holm
Veterinary Dermatology Consultation Services