Animal Science Blog

Animal Science

The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world.

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Canine Allergies: Allergy Shots for Dogs (Part 3)

Posted December 03, 2012 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

After a year of itchiness that was only resolved by prednisone, my vet and I decided to give allergy shots a try for my young dog. Steroids aren't a great long-term solution and diet management can only go so far. Shots seem to be the best way to deal with my dog's numerous environmental allergies.

Allergy shots for dogs are not unlike allergy shots for people. Allergen immunotherapy is used to reduce symptoms of allergic reactions and hopefully produce long-term remission. First up is a low dose of a small concentration. It is gradually increased and later switched to a low dose of a higher concentration. It can take several months of shots before an individual begins to show immunologic tolerance.

Details about Dosing

VARL looked at Freckles' allergy test results and decided on the allergens that were the most important. You can view them and the concentration on the image to the right.

The allergenic compounds are measured in protein nitrogen units (PNU). This is the measurement of nitrogen incorporated in the protein molecules and is not comparable between manufacturers. Freckles started off at a concentration of 2,000 PNU/ml and is now on 20,000 PNU/ml.

The injection schedule is tough at first but is less frequent over time:

  • Every other day for the first month
  • Every 10 days for the second month
  • Every 14 days for the third and fourth months
  • Every 21 days after that

Supplies and Procedure

Freckles' vials of allergen immunotherapy vaccine come straight from VARL. The vet gave me a prescription to purchase needles and syringes at a pharmacy. I compared prices and it's actually cheaper to buy them at a pharmacy than at a place like Tractor Supply. The pharmacy gave me needles similar to those used by diabetics.

A dog's injections are given subcutaneously (under the skin) at the back of the neck. It's important to vary the location of the needle each day to avoid soreness. Freckles is very well-behaved and usually doesn't notice the injections.

Check back for another blog entry in four to six months. At that time I'll post an update to let you know if the shots are helping.

Resources: VARL; Wikipedia - Allergen immunotherapy

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