Allergy Desensitization Therapy
Pets with atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies) often benefit from Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (ASIT) treatment (also called allergy vaccine, allergy hypo-sensitization, or allergy desensitization therapy) from a pet dermatologist. This is a process in which allergens are introduced in gradually increasing amounts subcutaneously or in to the mouth orally, which eventually build up a tolerance to allergies. Oral immunotherapy drops are effective and preferable for pets that may not tolerate injectable therapy well.
Allergy desensitization therapy is useful for environmental allergies, but is not used for food allergies in pets. Environmental allergies are generally not cured but can be managed well, resulting in control of allergies and related symptoms. Two types of allergy desensitization methods are available for pets:
- Subcutaneous immunotherapy – also called allergy shots. This method consists of administering injections of natural extracts of the allergens under the patient’s skin. The protocol generally involves weekly injections during the build-up phase, followed by maintenance therapy of 1 to 2 injections every month long-term.
- Oral immunotherapy – also called allergy drops, or sublingual immunotherapy. This method consists of administration of natural extracts of the allergens by mouth. The pet is not required to swallow the formulation, making it easier to administer, as only contact of the allergens with the oral mucosa is needed. Daily treatment is needed long-term.
In addition to desensitization therapy selected based on the allergy test results from your pet, additional interventions are usually needed in order to manage environmental allergies adequately for pets. Some of these additional recommendations may include allergen avoidance techniques, strengthening of the pet’s skin barrier, management of flare factors, and prevention of secondary infections of the skin. While allergies are for life, a lot can be done to prevent them from affecting your pet’s quality of life.