Your dog needs his immune system to protect him from disease. But modern dog allergy medications can damage the way it works … sometimes permanently.
What Is A Dog’s Immune System?
Your dog’s immune system is an extraordinary network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend against attacks from foreign invaders that cause infection and illness. The immune system is amazingly complex, recognizing and remembering millions of enemies and able to wipe out each one of them.
How Dog Immune Systems Work
I’ve always thought that if a country’s military commanders did an in-depth study of how immune systems worked, that country would never lose a war. One important secret to the success of this system is an elaborate communications network that’s organized into swarming subsets, passing information back and forth. These cells rapidly enlist their fellows and direct recruits to trouble spots with special helpers.
Unfortunately, most of the conventional medications we routinely use for the most common problems in dogs work to sabotage, if not destroy, this most precious asset. Allergies are a good example.
Allergies Are A False Alarm
In the case of allergies, the dog’s immune system responds to a false alarm. Harmless material such as pollen is mistaken for a threat and attacked as an environmental allergy. The immune system considers healthy foods to be enemies and responds with food allergies. Dog owners resign themselves to reading ingredients, changing foods and purchasing product after product to find relief. Yet, dogs (and people) tend to get allergic to what they contact all the time.
As an example, in my 35 years of specializing in allergies, I’ve found that in almost every case, dogs given fish oil every day become allergic to fish after 3 to 6 months. The attempted fix becomes a problem, and the unsuspecting owner keeps giving that fish oil capsule every day, only increasing the allergic reactions within their dog.
In the case of allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerances, the immune system is misbehaving.
Food sensitivities and intolerances are 15 times more common than allergies. Importantly, they have a delayed reaction … from 7 to 28 days or so. This can be quite confusing if you’re diligently watching your dog’s reaction to any and all foods.
Itching and chronic diarrhea are both so very common in our dogs nowadays so it’s important we understand what’s going on inside our fuzzy friends!
What Causes Allergies In Dogs?
Vaccinations are the largest contributor to the epidemic of dog allergies we see now. They confuse the immune system, activating it against substances your dog’s body should consider friends. For example, bovine serum and chicken embryo are used as proteins to culture dog vaccines. And then your dog’s immune system identifies these proteins as attackers. This starts the beginning of the immune system corruption and confusion.
An allergy is due to a misbehaving immune system. The immune system is reacting to something it shouldn’t be reacting to. Think of a person with peanut allergies. All his friends may be eating all kinds of peanut candies and peanut butter sandwiches, but he can’t touch them. Is the problem the peanuts or the immune system? That’s right, it’s the immune system.
So how do conventional treatments handle this misbehaving immune system? By abolishing it. No matter what drug I mention below, it’s an immune system extinguisher.
How Allergy Drugs Work
Conventional veterinarians have one basic avenue of approach and that’s to weaken, if not destroy the immune system. The prescription medications used have become more and more frightening … particularly in a world where a functioning and active immune system is so important.
Side Effects Of Steroids
It used to be that vets dispensed steroids like prednisone excessively. Veterinarians had little choice about what to use for dogs with allergies. Steroids worked because they suppressed the immune system. Steroids caused side effects like excess drinking and urinating, along with fur loss. That’s why dogs were weaned off as soon as they were comfortable again.
But often, within months most doggies would have to go back on another round of steroids. Lots of dogs had seasonal allergies so they would go on prednisone in, let’s say, just the spring and fall seasons. At least they were only on these immune-suppressing drugs for short stints. For the most part, the steroids did not change how the immune system would function after the pet stopped them.
Side Effects Of Atopica
Then a new dog allergy drug called Atopica (cyclosporine) became available. Some veterinarians began using Atopica instead of steroids. It didn’t cause excess drinking and urinating and panting. But the side effects of Atopica inside your dog’s body were considerably worse, with a far more devastating effect on the immune system.
Cyclosporine was developed in Switzerland in the 70s. It was designed to prevent the rejection of organs in transplant patients. In order to do this, it had to knock the immune system to smithereens. Dogs were getting cancer (one of the many noted side effects of cyclosporine) because they were on this drug. Nurses, who had to suit up before administering cyclosporine in the hospital to their patients, would call me for consultations on their pets after they had been prescribed this drug. They couldn’t understand how they needed to suit up in protective gear for work and then were casually told to handle and give this drug to their dog.
Side Effects of Apoquel
When Apoquel came onto the market, it seemed to be a dream come true. There was no excessive drinking as with steroids. There were no apparent serious immediate immune-depressing side effects as with cyclosporine. Dogs simply stopped itching and were, once again, comfortable in their own skin. Veterinarians loved it, as it worked well in just about every case. The dogs loved it because they stopped itching. Pharmaceutical companies and vets loved it because people had to buy it and refill it each month … for the dog’s entire life.
And that’s because the dogs who start it can’t seem to get off of this drug. When a 7-month-old puppy is put on Apoquel, the itching is often way worse when the owner attempts to wean him off than it was before the pup ever went on the drug. (In the old days, the puppy would have had 10 days of prednisone and been OK for months.)
Dogs weren’t taking Apoquel. for some short period in the spring or fall when they had their allergies. Once they started the drug, the dog would seem to need it forever. I specialize in allergies and I see it all the time. You try and try to wean your pet off, with no success, so you wind up refilling and refilling … to Big Pharma’s delight.
Apoquel works because it slays the kinases, which serve as the communicators in the body.
The capacity for internal communication in the body is compromised. Earlier I noted that the secret of the incredible success of the immune system is the elaborate communications network. Apoquel demolishes this network because it kills the kinases, which serve as very important communicators. Kinases coordinate absolutely everything in the body. One talks to another and that one talks to 1000 more kinases and the immune system works because of them.
Apoquel Damage Can Be Permanent
OK … so wouldn’t the kinases just start working again when the pet is taken off the drug? I personally don’t see this happen. With prednisone the adrenals come back up to par quickly after a short course of the drug. But with Apoquel, the whole system of communication within the body has been changed.
Let’s use a military example again. Roads previously used get closed, trains get shut down. Cell phones don’t work in certain areas. Suddenly the roads open. But all the soldiers are now used to taking the long route – or no route at all –and there is no one to tell them to go back to the old way of doing things. So they continue to work inefficiently and with less communication. They have adjusted and they pretty much stay that way. I do have ways to help the communication systems return to normal as I see so much of this in my practice. The patient who has been on Apoquel and is now cured of the allergies, food sensitivities and intolerances using my holistic methods, still keeps getting yeast and/or secondary bacterial infections. Their immune system is not kicking back in. In these cases, I need to super-boost the immune system with a somewhat unusual product that works well.
Are Prescription Allergy Drugs The Only Alternative?
Does it have to be one or the other? Changing foods, reading labels and avoidance … or the alternative option of having your beloved friend on an immunosuppressive drug? You see, with allergies the immune system is misbehaving and conventional drugs simply whack-a-mole the immune system.
Anyway, the answer is no. You do have other options because there are therapies that work … and work permanently … to eliminate allergies, sensitivities and intolerances in your dog.