How do pets show allergic symptoms?

Symptoms can be highly variable. Some of the symptoms associated with allergy include itchy feet, ears, inflammation of the skin, persistent scratching, chewing and face rubbing. Some pets lose hair and may experience rashes that can lead to secondary skin infections.

What causes an allergy?

Allergies are caused by an “over reaction” to certain common substances in the environment known as ‘allergens.’ These allergens include pollens of various grasses, weeds, trees, mold spores, house dust, dust mites, and a variety of other substances including foods. Exposure to an allergen can be from inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion. Once your pet is exposed to an allergen, sensitivity is established and then every time your pet is exposed to the allergen, a reaction can occur.

How can I tell if my pet is allergic?

Your veterinarian can determine whether your pet is being affected by allergens. He/She will ask questions about your pet’s history, environment, and symptoms. At this point treatment can be formulated based on regional relevant outdoor and indoor allergens. “OR” A simple test can be performed on a small sample of blood serum submitted to “Nelco Vet” for analysis. Your pet’s serum will be tested for a variety of inhalants, such as tree, grass and weed pollens, fungi (molds), house dust and mites that are specific to the region in which you live. Foods commonly found in your pet’s diet can also be tested .Skin testing may be used as well.

What is the best course of therapy for my pet?

Your veterinarian is best qualified to discuss treatment options once it is determined that your pet is allergic. Avoidance of the allergens is preferred, but may not be practical or possible. Medications, including steroids and antihistamines may temporarily relieve symptoms, but are not recommended for prolonged use. Hyposensitization or immunotherapy is the most natural and safe way to control allergy problems.

What is hyposensitization?

Your veterinarian may recommend hyposensitization. Once the pet’s allergies are identified, a mixture or vaccine of specifically prescribed allergens is formulated. This vaccine is made up of the offending allergens and is given in small doses that are gradually increased over time. The allergenic extract in the vaccine reduces the sensitivity of the pet to those allergens. In this manner, allergic symptoms are controlled without the undesirable side effects that can occur when corticosteroids or similar drugs are prescribed.

What are allergy shots? (Subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT))

In years past, hyposensitization was allergy shots. Based on history and or test results, a mixture of allergenic extract was formulated and animals were treated by injecting small amounts just under the animal’s skin. Both the shot volume and the concentration of allergen in the shot are increased overtime, causing changes in the animal’s immune system and subsequent reduction in allergy symptoms. This form of treatment is referred to as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT).

What is oral immunotherapy? (Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT))

Oral immunotherapy is based on the same principles as allergy shots with the only difference being that offending allergens are dispensed into the animal’s mouth with a spray dispenser rather than injected under the skin. The spray can be placed into the side of the mouth between the gum and cheek or under the tongue. The misting effect of the spray enhances capture of the extract by the dendritic cells which move the allergens into the blood or lymph and circulate to various lymphoid organs where the antigens are presented to T lymphocytes. T-lymphocytes modulate overall changes to the immune system resulting in fewer allergic-like symptoms and suppression of inflammatory reactions. This form of treatment is also referred to as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).

How effective is oral allergy treatment or SLIT?

Clinical studies have shown that oral allergy treatment is equally effective as allergy shots, and in fact, some animals failing to improve with allergy shots have been shown to respond quite well to oral allergy treatment of indoor and outdoor allergens (Tree, Grass and Weed pollens, Inhalants, Fungi (Molds), and House Dust Mites).

Are there any special preparations before or after oral allergy treatment?

Food or drink should be withheld from the animal for 10-15 minutes before and after the daily treatment. Beyond that, there are no special preparations.

How difficult is oral allergy treatment?

Treatment is quite simple. The initial treatment set consists of one 10 ml Starter Dose dispenser and one or two 30 ml Maintenance Dose dispensers. Treatment is initiated by dispensing three “squirts” from the Starter Dose dispenser into the side of the mouth between the gum and cheek or under tongue, once each day for 28 days. Thereafter, treatment is continued by dispensing three “squirts” in the same manner from the Maintenance Dose dispenser. Treatment from the Maintenance Dose dispenser is given once each day, six days each week. Full instructions and a “Suggested Dosage Schedule” accompany each treatment set.

What if my pet has a reaction?

Adverse reactions to allergenic extracts are extremely rare when administered orally. You should always observe your pet for 20-30 minutes after treatment. Signs and symptoms of possible side effects could include the following: facial swelling, redness, itching and tingling of the mouth, excessive drooling, sneezing and panting. Usually a simple reduction in volume given is all that is required to eliminate side effects. Your veterinarian may suggest giving liquid anti-histamine such as over-the-counter, generic cetirizine or diphenhydramine.

What if I miss a dose?

Do not double up on dosage; simply pick up the next day with the dose due at that time. Oral allergy treatment causes changes in the animal’s immune system that is best achieved by regular, consistent dosing.  Remember, we are gradually increasing your pet’s immune tolerance.

How soon can I expect to see improvement?

Pets progress at different rates. Many will show significant improvement in a fairly short period of time while others may take up to one year before real improvement is noted. It is important to understand this and plan accordingly. Failure to see improvement right away may not mean that oral allergy treatment is not working, only that the animal falls into the slow response group.

How long will my pet need oral allergy treatment?

Allergies can last throughout an animal’s lifetime. Your pet’s allergies may never be cured but only under control. As long as symptoms persist, treatment may be necessary.  On average 3-5 years.

Can the maintenance dose be adjusted?

Yes. After your pet has reached a maintenance dose and symptoms are under control, the maintenance dose may be adjusted. Each animal will respond differently. If it appears that the animal’s symptoms have worsened or returned, you should go back to the dosage regimen used prior to any changes that were made.

My pet is on “shot” maintenance. Can I switch to “oral” maintenance?

Absolutely! Studies have shown that the injectable dose is equivalent to the oral dose in terms of effectiveness.

Is there a time when changing from “shot” maintenance to “oral” maintenance could benefit my pet?

Yes. Candidates for change are 1.) Animal has been on shots for 12-15 months without significant improvement; 2.) Animal does not tolerate the physical trauma of shots; and 3.) It is difficult to give the animal shots.

Can you treat food allergens with Oral Allergy Spray?

The best way to manage food allergies is avoidance.

Spray vs Drops?

It is our opinion that dispensing from a metered dose spray dispenser can be more effective than dispensing sublingual drops. The spray treatment used in our clinical study was easily dispensed into the side of the mouth between the gum and cheek or under the tongue, making treatment for both animal and owner easier. Plus, the smaller spray droplets or mist increases the rate of absorption.