My dog is on Venactyl-P for allergies but it has side effects. Can I give him an antihistamine instead and is it safe to try an apple cider-vinegar spray?

Original Question: Every August Elvis begins itching like crazy and licking his skin. I bathe him with a suggested medicated shampoo from his vet, and start him on Vanectyl-P when this begins. Of course side effects are increased appetite, thirst and lethargy. Skin becomes pinker in the irritated areas, and in increased level in liver enzymes. Until the ground freezes, he is extremely irritated. My question is, can I give him an antihistamine of my own (ie. Claritin), without the Vanectyl-P? I found a site stating that an apple-cider vinegar and water spray could help soothe the skin. Your thoughts? Thanks very much. - Diane

My dog is on Venactyl-P for allergies but it has side effects. Can I give him an antihistamine instead and is it safe to try an apple cider-vinegar spray? Aug 27, 2018

Hi Diane,

Thanks for your question.

Treating allergies can be very frustrating. It requires a lot of trial and error with different treatments and strategies. I always recommend that pet owners review the diagnostic tests that have been performed before coming to a conclusion of allergies. There are complicating factors and infections that can mimic allergies so be sure to review our article about allergies to learn more about confirming the diagnosis. I recommend you work closely with your veterinarian to answer your questions as I’m not the attending vet, but I can give you some thoughts to consider.

Vanectyl-P is a medication that is a combination of an antihistamine and potent anti-inflammatory which is a steroid. The steroid will have many side effects and you have described some of them in your questions. A few medications have recently come on the market that help control allergic inflammation and itch without having the undesirable side effects that steroids cause. I suggest you ask your veterinarian about these options and consider a trial on one if they feel it is appropriate for your pet.

The fact that you’re already giving an antihistamine which is present in the Vanectyl-P, I would recommend that you speak to your veterinarian about the safety and value of adding another one. You can take a look at our resources “Antihistamines Medication for Dogs” and since they are over the counter medications and reasonably safe, we have a chart indicating the different ones available and how to use them. You could look there for guidance.

I have heard of many different treatments for allergies. I really cannot comment on whether apple-cider vinegar and water spray will work for your dog. Every pet is an individual and responds differently. If you are trying a supplement or alternative natural treatment, as long as it is safe, then I see no harm in trying it. Apple-cider vinegar and water should not be harmful unless your dog is sensitive to an agent in it. Use it in small amounts consistently for a week or two and monitor the skin to make sure that your dog is not having a reaction to it. If there are no negative reactions, then use it as indicated as a trial.

Keep in mind that controlling allergies effectively is about employing different modalities of treatment. You can find the different categories of treatment in our article, “Dealing With Your Pet’s Allergies” and video, “What You Should Know About Over-the-Counter Antihistamine Use in Dogs and Cats“.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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