At this time of year, my lovely yellow Labrador, Jazzy starts to itch.
She fidgets and fusses in the evening, when I want to relax. One minute she’s chewing her flanks making an annoying sucking chipping noise, the next she’s scratching repeatedly at her ribs. She just can’t settle, so neither can we.
She has done this every spring and summer for several years.
So, I’m a Vet, why don’t I give her some medication to settle it?
The answer is that the unlicensed anti-histamines I have trialled her on do not seem to settle it, and I am reluctant to risk using corticosteroids because of their side effects. So we were all suffering, until last year.
A new injection came out, which I elected to give to Jazzy. When I attended training on how this new drug was made, it felt like a miracle. An anti-itch drug, without all the side-effects of steroids? Fantastic!
Even the mechanism for how it’s made is revolutionary to our profession. It is the first monoclonal antibody licensed for use in dogs. It is an immunoglobulin that has been manufactured to recognise and bind to the protein responsible for creating the itchy feeling.
It doesn’t cure the allergy, but it does prevent messages about the need to scratch from reaching the brain, allowing the pet to rest, and the skin to heal. It buys time until the allergen is no longer around, and the whole family can relax again.
Even better: it is administered as an injection whose benefit can last for four to eight weeks. So last year, I gave Jazzy one injection, and she stopped itching for the whole summer. What a result! Especially as there were no pills to remember.
Unfortunately, the injection has only been created for dogs so far, but hopefully cats and people will follow soon. Meanwhile, there are other new medications available too. So if your pet is suffering from a summer-time itch, but you are sensibly reluctant to administer steroids, come and talk to one of our caring vets, who can help you select the perfect new medication to get things back on track.