Immunotherapy for environmental allergies is based off skin or blood testing. Treatments can be administered as subcutaneous (shots) or sublingual (drops).
What Is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy for environmental allergies is based off skin or blood testing. They can be administered subcutaneously (shots) or sublingually (drops). These allergy shots/drops contain small amounts of allergens to gradually retrain the immune system from reacting to them (hyposensitization). There is an induction period (lower concentrations of allergens) before moving to maintenance (highest concentration of allergens).
Immunotherapy has been reported to be successful in 60-70% of patients, both human and animal.
Success is a subjective term since there is no cure for allergies. For many patients, the goal is to reduce itch, frequency of infection (skin, ears), and reliance upon systemic medications (which also have costs, side effects, and monitoring requirements). Immunotherapy is the only true treatment for environmental allergies; everything else is just a bandage for the symptoms.
Treatment is only effective if it can be given. We help you choose the one that will result in the best compliance for both you and your pet.
- Most cats prefer allergy shots (less frequent handling).
- We recommend allergy drops for most brachycephalic dogs (ex. bulldogs) as they have a slightly higher risk of anaphylaxis compared to other breeds.
- If your pet travels with you, then keep in mind that the allergy shots need to be refrigerated whereas allergy drops are stored at room temperature.
- If you travel frequently without your pet, then keep in mind who will be helping to give the shots/drops while you’re away.
- If your pet tests positive for many molds, then we may recommend allergy drops (mold allergens will break down pollen allergens in the allergy shots base).
- If there is a history of recurrent bacterial and/or yeast skin/ear infections, then we may recommend allergy drops. Staphage Lysate (inactivated bacteria) and/or Malassezia (yeast) can be added to the allergy drops as if they were allergens; this can sometimes reduce the frequency and/or severity of secondary infections. It is easier and less expensive to include these ingredients into drops.