Blog by Dr. Jamie Senthirajah
Pruritis (itching) is a natural response to a stimulus (i.e. allergen). The top three causes of pruritis in dogs are flea allergy dermatitis, environmental allergies, and food allergies. But what truly causes that itch?? As you’d expect, there is a complicated pathway (that we horrifically all had to know in school). Luckily, you don’t need to know it. But in essence, a protein called Interleukin (IL) 31 is responsible.
One of the larger pharmaceutical companies, Zoetis, has spent years researching this protein and has come up with an antibody against IL-31 called Cytopoint. Why is that important? Well, giving this antibody can make your dog itch less and prevent your dog (and you) from pulling its hair out! By utilizing Cytopoint, your dog’s immune system is stimulated to work. Because it stimulates a natural occurring process, this therapeutic is NOT considered a drug!
Cytopoint is administered in the clinic via an injection under the skin (like most vaccines), so most dogs don’t even feel it. Most patients become less pruritic pithing 24 hours, and this reduction in pruritis usually lasts about 4 to 8 weeks. As each animal responds uniquely, results can vary. However, based on my personal clinical (and Zoetis) feedback, responses have been great!
Cytopoint can also be used in dogs of any age and concurrently with medications such as steroids, antibiotics, anti-histamines, and even Apoquel. So if your dog is one of those REALLY pruritic patients, we can provide even more support! Note: This therapeutic is for use only in dogs! Sorry, we can’t give it to your kitties or even you as much as you’d hope.
As always, let us know if you have any specific questions we can answer.