I know I have communicated through other posts and through messages with a few of you about Tonka's awful allergies we have been dealing with. Just thought I would post an update/some new information that might help others dealing with the same thing.
After trying out 5 different allergy meds (Hydroxyzine, Benadryl, Zyrtec, Clemastine and Claritan), an anti-bacterial/anti-fungal shampoo, and Animax Ointment for the face as well as wiping down after being outdoors etc. we finally reach the end of our rope. Tonka scratched his cornea again a week ago (for the 5th time) and I said that's it...we need more options. So we went to see a dermatologist and I want to share the options he gave us and maybe save some people the $140 it costs to simply hear the options.
First of all, Tonka has been having issues with his bottom now too...where he will run quickly and sit down like his glands are bothering him--even after we have had them drained recently. The doc says this can be a symptom of allergies since they can be irritated and fill up more quickly and itch him. We also received confirmation that this is for certain allergies he is dealing with--not mange or any other skin condition. The doc also thinks they will be year-round and not just seasonal since they presented in February when it was colder here in WI. He said allergies usually get worse with age too (oh great!).
Option 1=Steroids (cortisone) which the doc does NOT recommend as this is not beneficial to their health--it's a last resort type of thing. They can cause increased thirst/appetite and weight gain, a thin/poor hair coat, decrease in muscle mass and pot-belly appearance, enlarged liver, urinary tract infections, and changes in pancreas over the long term. We said this was not an option for us.
Option 2=Hyposensitization (allergy shots) This would require us to bring Tonka in for a skin-allergy test where they shave some of the fur and apply the needles to the skin. We had previously gotten Tonka a blood test which showed us nothing pretty much. The doc told me that blood tests are not the most accurate since the anti-bodies (or what shows/causes irritation) are in the skin and not the blood. I also asked about the hair test they can do some places and he told me this is not accurate either as the dog doesn't show reactions in hair or blood. Also, when I asked if the dog needed to be a year old to have the allergy test he told me this is an old/outdated belief and some doctors are under the impression that this is the case but it's not so for the skin test.
The test will cost us $300. Then they create the serum based on your dog's allergens. It would cost us $200/vial of serum which would last us 4.5 months initially and then every refill will last 7.5 months. After he needs more initially, they lower the shots to every other day for a month, then 2x's for 10 day intervals and then eventually every 3 weeks. So obviously with this option you have to pay more up front but it does get better as time goes on. Here's the kicker: it takes 4-12 months to become effective/know if this will work for your dog. Also, this method provides excellent control of allergies in only 65% of cases. They help another 15% of cases but are not completely perfect, and provide no appreciable benefits for about 20% of cases. I'm wondering if it takes 4-12 months to become effective what they do to control symptoms in the meantime...or if they just mean it takes that long to know if it's working/helping??
Option 3-Atopica (Cyclosporine) which modifies the immune system but has fewer side effects than steroids and is generally considered safer than steroids for long-term use. It also does not have an immediate affect--it takes about 6 weeks to know for sure but most dogs show improvement within 3-4 weeks. The main side effect is vomiting which only occurs in 10-20% of dogs so they ask if you dog has a sensitive stomach or vomits easily (Tonka does not). Soft stools/diahrrea could occur too. I guess it helps to give it as a frozen capsule and with food. Discontinuation of the medicine makes this side effects stop. The doc asks that you call them every 2, 4 and 6 weeks so that they can tailor the Atopica dosing schedule specifically for each pet. Annual exams are required for refills and blood and urine tests are recommended for all pets receiving long term medications.
The kicker with this medication is that it controls allergies in 70-75% of dogs but not all. Also, to treat a dog this size, it will cost $5 per DAY for medication--it's not cheap. They do say that when/if the medicine works for your dog and itching and lesions improve, they help you determine the least amount of Atopica needed to keep the allergy under control. I guess for 30% of dogs they can go every other day on the med and for 15% they can go every 3rd day on it.
So those are the options for us pet owners who have dogs with severe allergies. Oh how I wish I had a dog with seasonal allergies that was fine with a benadryl per day during those times haha. Good thing my little Tonka is so darn cute because he sure isn't cheap. Hearing these options was kind of a bummer but still gives me hope. Tonka is worth it! We are thinking of trying the allergy test/shots first as that seems the most cost effective. The doc told us they work great for some bulldogs he treats and then again so does the Atopica...there isn't one that's better than the other so it's a gamble...just depends on the dog.
Any opinions on this? Do you think you would go with the allergy shots first too? Anyone tried the shots and had success/no success? Sorry this is so long, I just wanted to provide this info. for others with dogs suffering from bad allergies who felt as helpless as me! @Lily122511 I am tagging you since I know you are struggling too!
Re: Tonka-Allergy Update
Bless your heart I feel for you & Tonka, I really do.
It can be so frustrating.
I'd probably try the allergy shots first to.
How old is Tonka?