As vets in southeast Georgia, we are constantly seeing patients that are itching due to chronic allergies.
While flea allergies and food allergies are very common causes of skin allergy problems, by far the most common cause seems to be atopy, or allergies to plants, weeds, grasses, insects, etc. in our environment. While there are many treatment options for atopy available, they each have their drawbacks. Antihistamines are often ineffective; steroids cause undesirable side-effects; Atopica/cyclosporine can be very expensive; Apoquel is not currently available on the market.
At Seaside Vets, we prefer to identify and treat underlying allergens rather than simply continuously treating the symptoms of itching and secondary skin infections. Many have heard of humans receiving intradermal skin testing to identify environmental allergens. What you may not know is that this option is available for our veterinary patients as well. Intradermal skin testing involves a series of 30-40 very small intradermal injections of allergenic extracts in order to determine what may cause a patient to have an allergic reaction. These intradermal injections are generally given under moderate sedation. After determining what your pet is allergic to, allergy vaccines can be formulated in order to slowly desensitize your pet to the offending allergens in the environment. Newer technologies continue to develop. For example, “allergy shots” can now be given as a sublingual liquid (a quick spray under the tongue) so allergy therapy can be easily given at home without the use of a syringe and needle. We are excited to offer this method of diagnostic testing and treatment to our patients.