March 8, 2017

Pet Allergy? No need to say goodbye to furry family members

Author: Emily Martin, Allergychoices

For some people, welcoming a new pet into their home may mean never ending symptoms of allergic reactions; others may not have even considered living with a pet because of the unknown consequences of allergy to dogs, cats and more. While millions of pet owners struggle with the sensitivities of pet allergy, sublingual immunotherapy can make it possible to live healthfully with your pet.

Pet allergies are common throughout the U.S., with symptoms that include itchy eyes, nasal and sinus congestion, asthma, and eczema and/or hives. The most common pet allergy is seen in cat and dog dander; however, it is increasingly seen in hamsters, horses, gerbils and rabbits. For people whose jobs include contact with animals, pet or animal allergies can not only be a health issue, it can impact their ability to do their jobs.

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Cat allergic? Allergy drops can make it easier to live in harmony with your pets.

We spoke with Dr. Theodor Habel, MD, provider at Allergy Associates of La Crosse to learn more about how sublingual immunotherapy treatment can relieve symptoms for pet owners and those who come in frequent contact with animals. Many patients worry, can I still live with my pet even if I have allergies? “Absolutely, especially with cats,” says Dr. Habel. By placing a small amount of allergen under your tongue, you are training your body to recognize the allergen and create a tolerance. Dr. Habel recalls a patient who he has been treating for about two years using the La Crosse Method Protocol. Before drop treatment, she couldn’t get near a horse or spend more than 30 minutes in homes with cats. Now, she is working with horses and able to spend time in cat-friendly homes without a second thought.

When compared to allergy injections, Dr. Habel strongly prefers sublingual immunotherapy for patients because of its safety. Cumulative doses of sublingual immunotherapy (or allergy drops) given multiple times daily can build a strong tolerance over time, rather than giving it in one dose, which can cause problems for some patients. Most patients who are treated for pet allergies continue treatment for at least three years to five years but feel symptom relief much sooner. Sublingual immunotherapy can give patients the hope of relieving allergy symptoms without having to say goodbye their furry friends.

In addition to sublingual immunotherapy, there are other things you can do to lessen your allergy symptoms from animals. For example:

  • Brush your pet outside to rid dander
  • Wash your pet on a regular basis
  • Keep the pet outside of the bedroom of the allergic individual, or limit spaces where the pet can roam freely

For more tips on lessening your allergy symptoms with pets, read on.

An interesting side note: Pets can be allergic too. In recent years, sublingual immunotherapy for animals is becoming a popular way to treat the cause of their allergies. For pet lovers who don’t like giving allergic pets injections, a drop under the tongue can not only be a treat for the pet, it can also build long-term tolerance to the allergens that make them (and their sympathetic owners) miserable.

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4 thoughts on “Pet Allergy? No need to say goodbye to furry family members

  1. Scott Charles says:

    is sublingual immunotherapy something my doctor has to prescribe or is there an otc brand?

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      Hi Scott! The sublingual immunotherapy protocol we advocate does require a prescription from a doctor. Allergychoices has helped more than 2,000 U.S. providers to offer more the benefit of sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) using the La Crosse Method™ Protocol which utilizes nearly 50 years of clinical experience and research. If you’d like to find a provider near you, we have details for how to contact us on this page — https://www.allergychoices.com/find-a-provider/

  2. Valerie Barber says:

    Do you have research materials and the results of clinical trials available to the public? Does this method have FDA approval? What is the cost of this method compared to the traditional shots? It appears this method would be self-administered compared, how safe is that without a doctor watching for adverse reactions?

    1. Beth says:

      The majority of your questions can be answered in our FAQs: https://www.allergychoices.com/about-allergy-drops/faq/

      Do you have research materials and the results of clinical trials available to the public?
      There is extensive research about sublingual immunotherapy. Over 1,000 citations are contained in our bibliography, including hundreds of peer-reviewed studies published since 1995. You can learn more at: https://www.allergychoices.com/research/bibliography/

      Does this method have FDA approval?
      First, it’s important to understand that the antigens used in allergy drops are the same FDA-approved antigens used in allergy shots. They’re also prepared in the same way as allergy shots. The difference is the route of administration — a dispenser that delivers a drop of antigen under the tongue versus a syringe injecting antigen into tissue. The FDA approves products, not therapies, so it’s unlikely that it will ever “approve” multi-antigen immunotherapy.

      Antigens are labeled by the FDA for single use through injections and some for sublingual immunotherapy. A number of FDA-approved biologics are considered off label use when delivered via sublingual immunotherapy, which is both legal and highly common. Most physicians prescribe drugs in an off-label manner today, for example, the use of blood pressure medications for migraines, montelukasts for COPD, or arthritis drugs to treat shingles. Multiple antigen therapies for both injection and sublingual use are also an off-label use of FDA-approved biologics.

      What is the cost of this method compared to the traditional shots?

      • Inhalant allergen vials begin at $118 for a 90-day supply (based on prescription complexity and antigens used).
      • Food vials begin at $148 for a 90-day prescription.
      • Pre-seasonal allergen prescriptions for grass, ragweed, and trees are $129 for a two-vial set.

      It appears this method would be self-administered compared, how safe is that without a doctor watching for adverse reactions?
      Allergy drops have been used around the world for more than 100 years with many studies showing that allergy drops are safe and effective. Physicians actually used allergy drops before they used allergy shots. In nearly 50 years of clinical use of the La Crosse Method™ Protocol, there has there has never been a reported instance of a systemic, anaphylactic or near-fatal reaction reported from this sublingual immunotherapy treatment. You can read more at https://www.allergychoices.com/about-allergy-drops/safety-and-effectiveness-of-allergy-drops/

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