Do allergy shots really make dogs less sensitive to allergens? If the success rate of 75% is to go by, things do seem pretty impressive.
In dogs, allergy can occur as a result of coming in contact with fleas, eating certain foods, bacterial infection, inhaling allergens, or simply as a reaction to a new flea collar or coming in contact with wool. These allergies can interfere with your dog’s health and cause several complications. The immune system of the dog reacts violently in the presence of foreign substances or allergens within the body. It may result in generalized or localized skin rash and cause itching, trigger severe respiratory problems, like coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, and even cause vomiting and diarrhea at times.
After a thorough diagnosis, the vet will be in a better position to tell whether the dog will have to be administered anti-inflammatory medication, prescribed hypoallergenic shampoos, or subjected to hyposensitization.
What are Allergy Shots?
Hyposensitization is a type of immunotherapy, wherein allergy shots are administered to make the dog less sensitive to a particular allergen. The shots contain diluted allergens that are known to trigger an allergic reaction within the dog’s body. The allergens actually help in increasing the production of IgE in the dog’s immune system. An intradermal skin testing is carried out to test which kind of allergen is causing problem. Over 60 different substances are tested by injecting them into the skin. The allergen extract that causes a reaction is used to form a solution, which is eventually used to desensitize the dog’s body.
While the exact mechanism is not known, experts have put forth a number of theories regarding the working of these shots. According to some theories, there is reduction in the IgE levels that lowers the intensity of the allergy symptoms. Some say, a different type of antibody is formed instead of IgE; similar to the mechanism of vaccination. According to one of the most favored theories, the dog develops high tolerance towards the allergens due to repeated exposure in low doses. This method of treatment of dog allergies is recommended only when the dog doesn’t respond to convectional medication. As these shots are given on a weekly basis, you will have to take your dog to the vet every week.
Do Allergy Shots Work?
Many pet owners are worried about the outcome of these shots for pet allergies. It is always better to weigh the pros and cons of these shots before you give them to your pet. The foremost thing to keep in mind is that this is not a short-term treatment. It may last for 6 to 12 months, depending on the severity of the issue. If you are willing to spend time every week and take your dog to the vet―without fail for almost a year―only then should you go for it.
Even after giving in a whole year to the hyposensitization treatment, your dog may not respond to it. It is found that about 25% to 30% of the dogs are not cured by allergy shots. However, there are 75% chances your dog respond to the treatment and showing improvement. The next logical question to ask is if there are any side effects. While such instances are rare, some pet owners complain that their dogs develop an allergic reaction to the antigens injected.
As this is a very expensive treatment, vets often use allergy shots as the last resort. Also, one is not sure of the outcome, and therefore, it is better to try it out as the final option. If your dog faces several health problems due to allergies, only then should you opt for hyposensitization.