A Revolutionary New Treatment for your Itchy Dog
by Jessica Cantrell, DVM
Itching, chewing, scratching, licking – these are some of the top reasons why people take their pets to see the vet, especially in Southern California. The most common causes of these symptoms are environmental allergies, food allergies and flea allergies. Of those, flea and environmental allergies, known as atopic dermatitis, are the most common.
Adding to the allergic discomfort, when pets scratch, chew and lick at themselves they break down their primary barrier against infections: their skin. This leaves them prone to secondary yeast and bacterial infections, which can also be very itchy. Lucky, now there’s a revolutionary new treatment to end the cycle of skin allergies.
Cytopoint is a new, first-of-its-kind, USDA approved treatment that specifically targets a dog’s itch at its source to help relieve the clinical signs of atopic dermatitis in dogs. Treatment is a single injection that lasts for about 4-8 weeks. All Pets Animal Hospital is proud to have been a part of the clinical trials for this cutting-edge therapy for dogs.
Canine atopic dermatitis is a common allergic skin disease that affects approximately 10% of dogs – although this number is likely much higher. Like many allergies, it is likely a genetic condition that makes your dog more likely to have a strong reaction when exposed to specific allergens like pollens, molds, dust mites and other environmental allergens. There are some dogs that are even allergic to human dander! Over time, atopic dermatitis can become worse and can pose a serious health issue for your pet. The skin can become extremely itchy, red, scaly and irritated due to inflammation. Left untreated, these allergies can lead to hair loss and infections of the skin and ears. Dogs with atopic dermatitis are often very uncomfortable either from the primary allergy or from secondary infections. It is not uncommon for clients to complain that their pet has lost interest in playing or that they wake their owners in the night with sounds of licking, chewing and scratching. The constant itching can have a negative effect on the daily life and happiness of your dog as well as his relationship with you and your family. Unfortunately, atopic dermatitis is a life-long condition and cannot be cured, only managed. The hope is to control symptoms and keep pets comfortable.
Previous treatments for atopic dermatitis involved antihistamines such as benedryl, which rarely worked. Steroids were often used to bring down the reaction, but these have undesirable side effects over time. Desperate owners often seek the help of veterinary dermatologists for allergy testing. Unfortunately, due to the number and diversity of plant species in our area, testing for specific allergies can be incomplete and developing anti-allergy serums is often met with limited results.
Cytopoint is a revolutionary new treatment for allergies that specifically targets the allergic reaction at its source. This product helps reduce scratching, chewing, licking and biting at the skin by controlling the itch at the source of the reaction in the immune system. Once the itch is controlled the damaged skin can heal and the body is once again protected from secondary bacterial and yeast infections. Cytopoint is different from traditional drugs that were previously used to treat itch as it is a biological therapy – it is a non-pharmaceutical treatment that works like you dog’s own immune system. Cytopoint contains engineered antibodies that are similar to a dog’s natural antibodies. Antibodies are used by the immune system to defend the body against infection or disease. The antibodies in Cytopoint have been specifically designed to target and neutralize one of the main proteins that send itch signals to your dog’s brain – interleukin 31, a key itch-inducing cytokine. It basically neutralizes the signal in your dog’s brain that makes him feel itchy. Additionally, because Cytopoint is highly targeted to this cytokine, it has minimal impact on the rest of your dog’s immune system.
Cytopoint is an injection that is administered by a veterinarian every 4 to 8 weeks, as needed. However, every pet is different so be sure you are working with your veterinarian to determine when the best time is for your pet’s next injection. In general, when you notice your dog is scratching, you should make an appointment as soon as possible for another injection. Some dogs have year-round disease and may need continuous treatment with Cytopoint, while other dogs may only need the product only when itch flares (allergy season). In clinical trials, after one injection Cytopoint started controlling the itch within 1 day and kept the itch controlled for a month or longer. Cytopoint also helped damaged skin begin to heal within 7 days.
Cytopoint has no known side effects and is very safe. In a clinical study, dogs who received Cytopoint injections had no more side effects than dogs who received placebo injections (injections with no treatment). Cytopoint is safe to use in dogs of any age, can be used with many other commonly used medications, and is safe for dogs with other diseases. Since Cytopoint is a biological therapy and not a drug, it is naturally broken down and recycled in the body and is not metabolized by the kidneys or liver, as are many other medications. This is one of the reasons Cytopoint can be a safe choice for your dog.
It is important to have underlying flea allergies, flea infestations, and skin infections (bacteria or yeast) under control when starting Cytopoint. Most cases of failure during Cytopoint use are due to a concurrent infection or flea infestation causing the itch.