My dog Max has suffered from terrible allergies for almost his whole life, and I have tried just about everything to help relieve his suffering. It is painful for me to watch him scratching, breaking out in hives, dealing with inflamed and sore footpads, and licking at his feet and losing fur over his allergies, but I know it’s even more painful for him. Max is allergic to almost everything, but mostly pollen. Luckily, he doesn’t suffer from some other symptoms, like halitosis or runny nose, but those are things that you might see in your very allergic dog. When my vet prescribed Atopica for Max, I was excited to see if it would really alleviate his symptoms and keep his allergies at bay. Here are my observations, for you to consider if your vet suggests Atopica.

Atopica gets its name from what it treats: atopic dermatitis, or chronically itchy and irritated skin. Allergies are what happen when your immune system attacks something in the environment that it doesn’t need to attack, and it manifests as these unpleasant symptoms. Atopica suppresses the immune system so that your dog’s body doesn’t react to allergens and the symptoms dissipate. Max did have remarkable improvement on Atopica, though he is not 100% allergy free. Still, it is a relief for me and for him not to deal with constantly itchy skin and hives. He shows greatly reduced foot biting, and his coat looks better too!

Be forewarned though, Atopica merely controls the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. It won’t cure it forever. You will have to give your dog the medication every day that he is experiencing allergies, or you will see that the symptoms come back with a vengeance. I didn’t know this, and when I stopped giving Max the medication it was an awful week for both of us! As soon as he got back on, we saw the same improvements as before. Your prescription for Atopica should come with refills because your four-legged friend will be on it for as long as allergies plague him.

A runny nose and excess phlegm are not symptoms of atopic dermatitis, so don’t expect those to go away. Atopica only addresses the direct symptoms of atopic dermatitis, so discuss with your vet what that means for you and your pooch.

Max has continued to respond well to Atopica over time and I no longer have to worry about him scratching himself until bleeding, or patches of his fur falling off. He used to get extremely irritated under his legs, but the difference has been astounding. His coat is shiny and full everywhere, even in those places that used to bother him most!

A few things to keep in mind while your dog is on Atopica:

The best time to administer the medication tends to be a few hours after your dog has eaten dinner. If you dose her too early, she will lose her appetite and be lethargic. Administering the medication after dinner lets your dog eat heartily and sleep well all through the night!

Atopica is an immunosuppressant, so take the same care you would for a human with a weak immune system. That means being extra careful when your dog is around other dogs or in any situation where he could pick up a virus or other illness.

Atopica can get expensive depending on dosage and how allergic your dog is. Ask your vet about the 1-time rebate the manufacturer offers on a one month supply, which ranges from $25-$50 based on cost.