Antihistamines delay relief from acute allergic flares

  By Dr. Ashley Bourgeois, KeraVet Bio Advisor

With veterinary clinics being so busy, it seems helpful to hand out an antihistamine dose over the phone when a client calls about their itchy pet. However, the more we learn about the pathomechanism of pruritus in dogs, histamine doesn’t play as big of a role as originally thought. Pruritus from canine atopic dermatitis is actually driven by various proinflammatory and pruritogenic cytokines such as interleukin-31.1

Evidence-based published guidelines for treatment of canine atopic dermatitis from the International Committee on Allergic Diseases of Animals (ICADA) listed antihistamines under “interventions likely to be of little or no benefit to treat acute flares of canine atopic dermatitis (AD).” Unfortunately, most allergic dogs will not receive pruritus relief from antihistamines.

One of the biggest concerns of antihistamine use is the worsening of disease by delaying control of allergic symptoms. If allergic pruritus continues, secondary issues such as pyoderma, yeast dermatitis and otitis externa are more likely to occur. Not only will this require additional treatments and finances from the owner, but it increases pruritus and suffering for the dog since these organisms cause itch and inflammation as well.

In the veterinary profession, we have so many amazing therapies that provide fast effective pruritus relief. We want to establish trust with our clients by helping their dog’s allergic symptoms quickly. To learn more about this topic, check out episode 83 of The Derm Vet podcast.

This article was originally posted on September 30, 2021 to the The Derm Vet.

Learn more about KeraVet Bio Advisor, Dr. Ashley Bourgeois, DVM, Dip ACVD, Veterinary Dermatologist, Speaker, and Media Personality by visiting her on LinkedIn.

Gonzales AJ, Bowman JW, Fici G, et al. Oclacitinib (APOQUEL®) is a novel Janus kinase inhibitor with activity against cytokines involved in allergy. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2014;37(4):317-324.
Olivry T, DeBoer DJ, Favrot C, et al. Treatment of canine atopic dermatitis: 2015 updated guidelines from the International Committee on Allergic Diseases of Animals (ICADA). BMC Vet Res. 2015;11:210.