Dog Allergies: New Miracle Pill or Nightmare?
February 25 | Hmmm...No Comments Yet
Our Bernese Mountain dog, Goliath, has allergies during certain times of the year that are out of control. Because these types of dogs are prone to cancer we are very careful about giving him steroids but last fall we did have to do a short round since nothing was working. It was so bad he was gnawing at himself relentlessly and had chewed himself raw in some spots given himself an infection. We only used the steroids for about a week to give him some relief so that we could get rid of the infection and allow him to heal. After that we went back to the allergy pills and topical sprays. You can only imagine how excited I was to learn about a new pill that was being used for dogs that have allergies.
The drug is Atopica and when I read about it my excitement soon disappeared. As a dog owner it is my job to research whatever I’m going to give my dog so that I can make an informed decision, weigh the pros and cons. Just like you would do if the doctor suggested a pill for you that you knew nothing about. After reading an article on Dogs Naturally Magazine about the potential side effects from Atopica I knew that this was not the way I would go.
Atopica: What is it?
Atopica is a product that touts its efficaciousness with dogs who have allergies and other dermatological conditions. Most of my readers will know that allergies result from an incorre
ct response of the immune system to foods and environmental substances. For many years steroids such as prednisolone were used to decrease the ability of the immune system to function and thus relieve the allergies. It’s when steroids can’t and don’t work that Atopica is prescribed.
Why does it often work so well? What does it do? How does it work?
Cyclosporine is a mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are harmful products produced by fungi. They are chemical in nature and are immune suppressing. Fungi rely on the mycotoxins they produce to kill an
y bacteria, other fungi, viruses and anything else that might compete with them. They suppress the immune system of dogs, cats and humans. Some
examples of mycotoxins found in nature are aflotoxins, the most potent carcinogen on earth, and ocharatoxins – both produced by an Aspergillus fungi. Medical mycotoxins include Adriamycin, a chemotherapy drug and lovastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug.
The immunosuppressive effects of cyclosporine were discovered in Switzerland in 1972 and it was used successfully in preventing organ rejection in kidney transplants and later in liver transplants. Apart from transplant medicine, cyclosporine is used for a variety of skin conditions in both humans and pets. Of course, in transplant patients it suppresses the immune system so they do not reject their transplants.
The Side Effects
The side effects of this drug include headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shaking hands, swollen bleeding gums, cancer, kidney failure, hypertension, easy bruising, hearing problems, yellowing of skin and eyes, loss of consciousness, vision changes, swollen glands, immune suppression and dizziness. Interestingly, these aren’t side effects at all, but rather symptoms of poisoning caused by this mycotoxin poison. Farmers are familiar with the deleterious effects that mycotoxins can have on animals that eat moldy grain containing mycotoxins and the symptoms all agree. In fact, death is one side effect listed on the feline prescription.
The literature for people states that their risk of infection will be higher when they are on this drug and to avoid people with contagious diseases or infections. Of course your pets will have the same increased risk for infection and cancer. You’re told to wash your hands after you apply it to your cat or dog in the instructions. Hell, I’d wear latex gloves if I ever had to apply the product.
Here’s an interesting tidbit. I was totally amazed when I heard it and it made my distrust of the pharmaceutical industry go way up. I had a client who worked in the laboratories of a prestigious pharmaceutical company doing tests to determine the side effects from many drugs. She told me that they do initial testing protocols to set up the study and watch when the side effects occur.
Let’s say, for example, that after 90 days 40% of the rats develop cancer and 20% go into liver failure. This information results in the company designing the study to last for no more than 60 or 70 days so that they can state that after that time they found that a minor percentage had minor side effects.
I guess when you view it from their perspective it’s the smart way to do it.
It took many years of my practicing medicine to fully understand that drug companies want to make money and not help or cure patients. If one pill would cure your high blood pressure what would happen to their monthly revenue if you stopped going in every 4 weeks to refill. Just so, no pet vaccination company brags that their vaccinations last for 10 or more years because of the revenue that they would lose.
Nowadays, one out of two dogs will develop cancer. Every dog and cat needs an immune system that works and works well. And this is why veterinarians who care and also understand the mechanism behind how Atopica works shiver in their shoes. They wouldn’t use it on their dogs and cats and you shouldn’t use it on yours.