A new approach to an old problem

posted on November 01, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Allergies are a common complaint in our animals, with up to 15% of dogs suffering from atopic dermatitis.  Treatment focuses on diminishing exposure to allergens (special diets, bathes, HEPA filters), treating secondary skin infections, and altering the immune system so it does not react.  Antihistamines and steroids are the most common methods of changing the immune response, with immunotherapy injections being another option.  However, steroids can be broad spectrum in their effects on the body, so newer medications and modalities are constantly being researched.  There are more specific medications available such as Atopica and Apoquel.  An even newer approach is Cytopoint.

Cytopoint is an injection given every 4-8 weeks.  It differs from steroid injections in that it targets specifically itch receptors instead of the immune system at large.  Cytopoint is an antibody against a chemical called cytokine IL-31, which is a chemical that triggers the process of sending itch signals to the brain.  By targeting this signal, it is able to interrupt the itch cycle before it even starts.

Cytopoint is a safe medication as it mimics the dog’s own immune system.  It is used and broken down inside of cells into amino acids and peptides.  It is not converted into reactive or toxic metabolites in the body.  It is not metabolized by liver or kidneys, and is not excreted in the urine, meaning it should be safe to use when there are other disease processes present in your pet. (Please note, it is still up to your veterinarian to determine if it is safe to use Cytopoint in your pet’s specific condition and instance).  Cytopoint can be used in conjunction with other medications, including many that are typically used for allergies.

The local dermatologists have been using Cytopoint for a few years, and we were happy with their results, so we are now proud to also offer Cytopoint injections here at Heritage Animal Hospital.  If you feel your dog is suffering from allergies, please schedule an appointment to discuss options for your pet!

Apoquel and Cytopoint are trademarks of Zoetis.  Atopica is trademark of Elanco.