Ask Dr. Wise: 

Our dog was recently diagnosed with allergies, are there allergy shots for dogs? 

 Yes, allergy shots are offered for dogs that suffer from certain types of allergies. Allergy shots are a form of treatment that works by injecting the dog with small amounts of what they are allergic to, what we call allergens. By injecting very small amounts of allergens, the shots are able to slowly retrain the dog’s immune system to tolerate these allergens instead of having an allergic reaction. Allergy shots have been shown to effectively treat allergies in 60-80% of patients, and pets treated with shots successfully no longer require treatment with corticosteroids or anti-histamines. It is important to note though, if your pet does respond to allergy shots, your pet will most likely need these shots for the rest of its life.
Allergy shots are only able to treat allergies to indoor and outdoor allergens, not flea or food allergies. To find out if your pet has allergies that may benefit from allergy shot treatment, allergy testing must be done to discover what allergens your pet is allergic to. The number and type of allergens your pet is allergic to will help your vet determine if your pet might benefit from allergy shots.
When first starting allergy shots, frequent small injections of allergens are needed to slowly build up immune tolerance, so your pet will usually receive shots every other day for the first month or more of treatment. Depending on your pet’s allergies, your veterinarian will then reduce how often the shots are given, usually once every 1-3weeks. With training you can learn to give your pet allergy shots at home.
Another new alternative to allergy shots is allergy therapy drops. This treatment works the same was as allergy shots but instead of an injection, the allergens are in a drop form that is delivered in a pump bottle and dispensed under the pet’s tongue. Allergy therapy drops must be given twice a day every day, and has been shown to be successful in 60% of patients with allergies.
Allergy shots can be a wonderful alternative for pets with severe allergies or allergies that don’t respond to anti-histamine or corticosteroid treatments. Whether you are considering allergy shots or therapy drops to treat your dog’s allergies, it is important to discuss these options with your veterinarian and family to decide if these long term treatments are best for you and your pet.

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