Allergy Shots for Dogs

Allergy shots, or allergen-specific immunotherapy, are injections given to dogs with allergies such as:

  • Flea dermatitis
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Environmental or atopic dermatitis

This treatment works by gradually exposing a dog to larger doses of the allergens that their immune system is triggered by.

These shots are given in small doses under the skin, and slowly increased over time. The treatment is designed to alter the dog’s immune response to those allergens so that their allergic reactions are less severe.

Allergies are a life-long condition, which means the dog will always have some form of symptoms throughout their lifetime. Immunotherapy can help to alleviate these so the dog’s symptoms are mild and easy to manage.

Allergy shots are different from anti-itching medications like Cytopoint or Apoquel, which are prescribed to manage the symptoms of an allergic reaction. The confusion comes from the fact that both forms of treatment are referred to as allergy shots.

Allergy shots for dogs pros and cons

Cytopoint and Apoquel are medications given to help manage the symptoms of an allergic reaction, but they do not treat the cause of the reaction itself.

These are the most common medications prescribed for mild allergic reactions as they target inflamed tissue and reduce the feelings of itchiness under the skin. This stops the dog from scratching and prevents skin damage, sores and hair loss.

The benefit of giving these types of allergy shots is that they provide effective, short-term relief from symptoms such as itchy or dry skin, which can cause stress and discomfort to the dog.

The downside is that these medications must be given every few weeks until the cause of the allergic reaction is dealt with, otherwise the symptoms will keep returning and further flare-ups may be more severe.

Can I give my dog an allergy shot at home?

Yes, short-term allergy shots such as Cytopoint and Apoquel can be given at home and dosing is easy to calculate.

If your dog is receiving more intense immunotherapy shots, this is done at a veterinary clinic by a licensed professional.

Is Cytopoint better than Apoquel?

Cytopoint is more popular than Apoquel for owners with dogs that refuse to take oral medication. Additionally, Cytopoint injections are given once every 4-6 weeks, whereas Apoquel tablets must be given every day or every other day.

In situations where dogs are fearful of visits to the vet, Apoquel is a much better solution. It may be difficult trying to get a dog to take a daily tablet, but frequent vet visits can be much more stressful.

Apoquel tablets are small enough that they can be hidden in a treat or mixed into the dog’s normal food. Some owners find it easier to use a pill tool, especially if their dog is good at finding a hidden medication or refuses food.

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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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