How Do Allergy Shots Work
Allergy shots work by decreasing symptoms from particular allergens.
Each injection contains small amounts of the allergen so that your body builds up immunity to it over time. The process works much like taking a vaccine, where your body creates new antibodies to combat the invasive substances.
Allergy shots also improve the way other immune system cells and substances function in response to allergens. Eventually, successful immunotherapy helps the body fight off allergens and reduce adverse symptoms.
Allergy shots aim to decrease overall allergy symptoms over time. If you have allergic asthma, reduced asthma symptoms are also possible.
What Types Of Allergies Do Allergy Shots Treat
There are over 1,200 allergen extracts licensed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. They are designed to work against environmental allergens: pollen, pet dander, mold, cockroaches, dust mites and also bee stings. Allergy shots are not given for and are not effective against food allergies. An allergist might use food allergen extracts to test for specific food allergies, but not for allergy shots.
How Long Does A Dog Allergy Rash Last
An allergy rash can appear suddenly and then vanish just as fast.
In minor cases, the hives and allergy rashes usually go away 12 to 48 hours after your dog made contact with the allergen.
Any time you notice hives on your dog, you should seek medical attention because there is a chance that the reaction could escalate and produce a deadly swelling of your dogs airways or a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
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When An Allergist Diagnoses A Patient With A Pet Allergy The First Line Of Defense Sounds So Simple: Avoidance
The most effective way to control a pet allergy is to not spend time around the animals that make your body go haywire. The reality is, many people consider their pets part of the family and will do anything to keep them home where they belong. There are some steps that can help manage the allergy without sending Spot or Fifi to live with Granny.
Allergy Shots For Dogs Side Effects
Luckily, there are very few side effects of immunotherapy in dogs.
Your dog might have an increase in itchiness for the first couple of days after an injection. This can occur up to 48 hours after the injection and can last for hours to days, Dr. Harbour said.
A more severe side effect of allergy shots for dogs is anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, which can include the following symptoms:
- Redness or swelling at the injection site
Signs of anaphylaxis are extremely rare in dogs and cats, but because this is possible, we start with low doses and increase the volume of injections to a maintenance dose that the patient can tolerate, Dr. Harbour said.
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How Do Allergy Shots For Dogs Work
Immunotherapy is a great option for many dog parents because its the only thing that can permanently change a pets immune response to environmental allergies.
Once the medications are stopped, signs will return, Dr. Harbour told The Dodo. Allergy medications only control symptoms, but shots work by actually building immunity to specific allergens.
Keep in mind, though, that allergy shots are only effective for pets dealing with environmental allergies and wont work for pets with flea or food allergies.
With allergy shots, your vet will test your dog first to find out what substances in her environment shes allergic to, then create a formula based on her allergies. The formulas injected periodically so your dog becomes desensitized and ideally no longer allergic to the allergens.
Allergen-specific immunotherapy works by giving the patient small doses of what he/she is allergic to, Dr. Harbour said. Over time, the immune system starts to change how it responds to the allergen and develops tolerance.
The amount of allergen in the shots is gradually increased so your pup slowly builds up a tolerance.
When your dog first starts getting allergy shots, she might need them a few times a week, but eventually its possible that shell only need them around once or twice a month.
A Side Story: My Experience With Allergy Shots
Ive had serious allergies since I was very young. When they tested me for the various things I was allergic to, they drew a grid with one square per allergen. Every single square became an inflamed, itchy bump. Well, theres one square that didnt react, I pointed out to the nurse hopefully.
Oh honey, she said. Thats the control.
I started taking shots in my early 20s, but for various reasons I stopped for a few years. I started up again in my mid through late 20s. Even with health insurance, at the time money was tight and the copay took a bite out of our finances.
I never had any kind of systemic reaction from my shots. To be honest, after months and months of never having a reaction, I stopped waiting around the doctors office after the shots were administered. Id often get an itchy bump for a day or so, but thats it. Its also worth noting that, while you need an allergist to test and set up the serum, you can have your regular general practitioner do the weekly or monthly shots. This was great for me since my GP was much closer than my allergist.
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Are There Dangerous Potential Side Effects
It is very rare, but allergy shots can cause a serious allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock. The airways may become very narrow, making breathing difficult, and blood pressure drops. This is why it is important to have allergy shots under a doctors supervision. The staff at the office are equipped to deal with a severe reaction.
An allergy shot may also cause a sore or itchy bump at the site of the injection, which usually is temporary.
Getting Relief: Medical Treatment Options
Do you pop a Benadryl or Claritin when your allergies act up? The first stop for getting your pet relief is the same: antihistamines!
Unfortunately, antihistamines dont work for every puptheyre effective for about 30% of dogs. The biggest problem is that they tend to be a short-term solution for treating dog allergies, since they often lose effectiveness over time.
If an antihistamine is effective, you could carry that out as long as it lasts, Dr. Eckholm explains. Sometimes, you can manage allergies just with that. Other times, as allergies progress, antihistamines are no longer effective.
If youre ready to try antihistamines, its important to consult your vet to determine which antihistamine is best and get a specific dosage for your dog.
The next option is stronger medicationcorticosteroids. Steroids are much more effective at treating dog allergy symptoms, but theyre not recommended for long-term use because of the possibility of severe side effects. But dont be hesitant to consult your vet about steroids because of the stigmathey can be very effective even in small doses and can help give relief to an itchy pet.
Its about quality of life, Dr. Eckholm reasons.
If you graduate to steroids, you should also pursue allergy testing at that time.
Allergy testing and immunotherapy are the gold standard for managing environmental allergies, Dr. Eckholm says. Allergy shots are the only effective method to stop the progression of allergies.
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How Do You Treat Pet Allergies
The most effective treatment for pet allergies is to avoid animals completely. However, if you cannot or will not avoid animals, you have a few treatment methods available.
First, you can use nasal sprays, antihistamines, and bronchodilators to relieve symptoms, but this will not fix the problem long-term. You may need to try a variety of options to find out which one works best for you. Also, consider combining medications such as nasal sprays and antihistamines. Speak to your doctor if you are taking other medicines.
Second, you can get allergy shots to slowly reduce symptoms with time. Taking allergy shots includes weekly injections of allergens over a period of three to ten years. Another option is to create a pet-free zone in your home. Use HEPA purifiers to reduce airborne allergens. If you can, keep animals outside and out of the house completely.
Homeopathy remedies can offer some relief too. Local honey can help in some cases, as can essential oils. Vitamin C can improve the immune system and may offer mild support for pet allergies. Always talk to your doctor before trying new treatments.
What Kind Of Shots Are Given For Allergies
To treat allergic symptoms, many people get allergy shots. These are regular injections administered over time that help reduce symptoms and attacks. Tiny doses of a specific allergen are injected in the body to build up the bodys response to that allergen. Allergy shots are a type of immunotherapy treatment given to help individuals with seasonal allergies, stinging insect allergies, & indoor allergens
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Other Allergy Medications For Dogs
There are no real cures for allergies in dogs. In addition to shots, pet parents should work with their veterinarians to discuss lifestyle changes, medications, supplements, and diets that can help to lessen symptoms.
Allergy treatment typically requires a multimodal approach, meaning that more than one medication or treatment is recommended to help to manage symptoms.
Most dogs with allergies are prescribed medicated shampoos, ear flushes, and/or wipes. These topical treatments help to decrease the number of bacteria and yeast on the skin and for this reason are helpful for treating and preventing the skin and ear infections that frequently result from allergies.
The most common oral medications used to treat allergies in dogs are Apoquel , Atopica and oral steroids . Apoquel and oral steroids are typically used early in the course of treating allergies because they have anti-inflammatory properties in addition to providing itch relief and start to work within hours. Atopica is used more commonly for dogs that fail to respond to Apoquel pills or Cytopoint injections. Oral allergy medications are good options for dogs that are too reactive or fearful of injections.
Oral antihistamines such as Benadryl have been used for allergies in dogs for many years, but research has failed to prove that these are effective for dogs so they are rarely recommended by veterinarians anymore.
What Are The Side Effects Of Allergy Shots
The side effects of allergy shots are usually minimal. Most commonly, patients will feel slight itching or swelling at the site of the injection. Other people may experience more severe allergy symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, and hives. While rare, a person can have a serious reaction, like anaphylaxis, typically within 30 minutes after the shot is given. Therefore, waiting at an allergy office is required after an allergy shot is given. It is important for trained allergy staff to monitor patients after their allergy shots to ensure no reaction occurs.
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Medications Can Help Relieve Symptoms
Some people with dog allergies find relief from over-the-counter medications, while others require medications prescribed by their doctoror allergist. Several different types of medication may alleviate the allergy symptoms, including:
- Antihistamines, which block the histamines created during an allergic reaction
- , which can help relieve nasal congestion and reduce swollen nasal passages
- Steroids, which can help relieve itching, swelling and other allergy symptoms
In some cases, allergy shots can help a dog-allergic person develop immunity to dog allergens. These shots do not work for all allergy sufferers, and the shots require a long course of treatment to become effective because each shot adds a small amount of allergen to the allergic persons body to allow his or her natural defenses to build up an immunity.
Allergic Sensitization To Pets
Cat and dogs are among the most common sources of aeroallergens in the human environment.2 Of interest, sensitization to dog was found to be as common as sensitization to cat in many parts of Europe. On average, the prevalence of sensitization to cat or dog was around 20% in adults below 45 years and around 13% in adults over 45 years.2 A proportion of individuals are sensitized to more than one animal. In an unselected population-based birth cohort, analyzed by IgE reactivity to cat and dog allergens, the prevalence of sensitization to cat only was 11%, to both cat and dog 11% and to dog only 3% among 16 year-old subjects.32 However, it is often hard to know whether multiple sensitizations observed represent cosensitization or cross-sensitization, at least without detailed information on disease history and specific IgE determinations to pure allergens.33 Basically, it can be thought that cross-sensitization is possible when allergens show a high degree of sequence similarity, as is the case between animal serum albumins or certain lipocalin allergens, such as cat Fel d 4, horse Equ c 1 and dog Can f 6.15,28 Specific IgE to some allergens, for example cat Fel d 1 or dog Can f 1/2, is considered a specific marker of sensitization to the respective animal.34 In all, sensitization to multiple animal allergens is associated with increased bronchial inflammation in severe asthmatics.35
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Con: They Can Take Some Time To Start Working
You wont see immediate results with immunotherapy. It can take anywhere from three months to a year for allergy shots to start working. And once they do start working, youll need to continue with the shot every so often for maintenance.
This is not a quick fix, Dr. Harbour said. Typically we tell clients that this is something we commit to for the long haul.
Or they might recommend a dog-safe over-the-counter antihistamine, which is usually best paired with an omega-3 supplement.
If I Want To Keep My Pet Can I Take Steps To Reduce My Pet Allergy
Animals become a part of your family. If your allergy is manageable, you may want to keep your pet. Here are some ways to manage pet allergens in your home:
Reduce your exposure to pet allergens.
- Keep your pet out of bedrooms or places people sleep. You spend about one-third to one-half of your time there. If you have a bedroom door, keep it closed.
- Keep pets off fabric furniture.
- Have someone without a pet allergy brush the pet outside to remove fur. Ask them to clean the litter box, bedding, or cage. If you do the grooming and cleaning, wear a face mask and gloves.
- Wipe your pet down with pet-friendly wipes or towels after it has been outside to remove pollen and urine.
- Change your clothes and shower after you spend time with an animal.
- Wash your hands and face after petting or touching the pet, its cage, or bedding.
Clean and reduce allergens in your home.
- Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning.
- Remove dust on hard surfaces often with a damp cloth. A damp or microfiber cloth will help keep the pet dander and fur from going back into the air.
- Wipe down walls, cabinets, and floorboards with a damp cloth.
- When possible, choose furniture and window coverings that are not made of fabric.
- Use slipcovers on fabric furniture or cover with blankets that can be washed weekly.
- Vacuum fabric furniture and carpets weekly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® vacuums meet AAFAs standards for vacuums.
Medical Review: June 2022 by John James, MD
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Your Environment And Dog Allergies
Most allergists agree that although medication may help, the best way to control dog allergies is to avoid contact with dogs. Here are some tips:
- Keep your distance. Don’t touch, pet, or kiss a dog. As best you can, avoid going to homes with dogs. If you have to stay in a house with a dog, ask if it can be kept out of the room in which you’ll sleep for a few months before your arrival.
- Use your medicine. If you know that you’ll be coming into contact with a dog soon, start taking your medicine a few weeks ahead of time. By taking medication preventatively, you might stop an allergic reaction before it starts.
- Be wary of visitors who own dogs. Dog dander can cling to clothing and luggage. So even if your house guests leave their dogs at home, they can bring the dander with them — and that can cause you a lot of trouble.
Of course, some of the above advice won’t help that much if you already have a dog in your home. Even then, there are still things you can do:
Will bathing your dog have any effect on allergy symptoms? Experts aren’t sure some studies have shown that baths reduce the amount of airborne dander, while others haven’t found a difference. You can certainly try out weekly baths and see what happens. Just make sure that someone without dog allergies is doing the actual bathing.
So if you or a family member has dog allergies, talk to a doctor. Getting control of symptoms will not only make you feel better, but it will help protect you from becoming sicker.
What Are The Common Allergy
A very large number of substances can act as allergens. Most are proteins of insect, plant, or animal origin, but small chemical molecules can also cause allergy. Examples of common allergens are pollens, mold spores, dust mites, shed skin cells , insect proteins such as flea saliva, and some medications.
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