Immunotherapy for Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnoses and Treatment

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    What is Immunotherapy for Dogs?

    Immunotherapy is used to treat allergic reactions in dogs. Most symptoms that occur as a result of an allergic reaction can be managed medically. However, the administration of immunotherapy is the only way to treat and address the negative reaction itself. 

    Immunotherapy administers small portions of the allergen to the dog on a regular basis over an extended period of time until the patient overcomes the reaction from the allergen. Doses of the allergen will gradually increase after several months of the treatment. 

    How Does Immunotherapy Work in Dogs?

    Photo Credit: Vetmed.illinois.edu

    Prior to the administration of immunotherapy, the allergens causing the reaction need to be identified through proper testing. These allergens are typically identified through the use of an IDT or PPT test, where common allergens are administered into the dog’s skin. If a reaction occurs following the administration, the allergen has been identified. In some cases, blood testing may be performed to identify the allergens, however, this has been found to be less accurate. 

    Once these allergens have been properly identified, immunotherapy can be prescribed. The allergens are either diluted and placed into vials or tablet form. An injection using a syringe is the most common way to administer immunotherapy. 

    Your veterinarian will demonstrate how to perform the injection, typically with a 27 gauge needle. The skin on the nape of the dog’s neck should be gently raised and folded. This way the needle can be inserted into the neck at a proper angle inserting the allergens into the skin. A new needle is necessary for each application, as well as a new injection site. In the case that your veterinarian prescribes immunotherapy in tablet form, this tablet will likely be placed under your dog’s tongue multiple times throughout the day.

    What Are the Side Effects of Immunotherapy in Dogs?

    It’s important to monitor your dog for an hour or so following the administration of immunotherapy to keep an eye out for negative reactions. A few side effects to consider when immunotherapy is prescribed include: 

    • Injection site becoming swollen or painful
    • In serious cases, anaphylaxis can occur, demonstrated by frequent panting or swallowing; contact your veterinarian right away 
    • Also in serious cases, facial swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, hives or collapse can occur and is considered an emergency (this is also a sign that the dosage likely needs to be adjusted) 

    What is the Cost of Immunotherapy for Dogs?

    Immunotherapy is rather affordable, however, it does require ongoing administration. The cost is dependent upon the size of the dog and their dosage needed. Typically, the amount administered per month ranges from 1-3ml; 1ml can cost anywhere from $5-$10. Additionally, follow up appointments and monitoring from your veterinarian will be necessary as well as syringes. 

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