You may be wondering if you need to take your Yorkie to the veterinarian in order to truly fix allergies for good. This will depend on a couple of different factors. Let's take a look:
- There are allergy tests that can be done at the vet's office to help pinpoint allergy triggers. However, these do have their pros and cons.
This includes blood testing (ELISA), which typically works best in identifying airborne allergens such as pollen or weeds, than it does for food or contact triggers.
Because the design of this test was based on human biology, it is not entirely accurate for canines. It may produce false positives or false negatives. In addition, whether or not you know the exact airborne allergen, action will be the same: limit exposure and treat symptoms. So, this testing is typically reserved for those wishing to additionally follow up with immunotherapy, which does have risks (more ahead).
Another type of testing is intradermal skin testing.
For this, a dog needs to be sedated, and this is not something to rush into when you have a tiny toy breed like the Yorkshire Terrier. This is, at the most, approximately 75% accurate. A main reason for its lack of complete reliability is that this involves injecting very small amounts of allergens under the skin to see if a reaction occurs, and if a reaction is borderline, this may be interpreted in different ways.
- If allergies are moderate to severe, prescribed medications may indeed be warranted. This includes prescribed antihistamines, and anti-inflammatory medicines including corticosteroids. While strong antihistamines can cause drowsiness and other side effects, and corticosteroids should not be used long-term, these can be very helpful for Yorkies that are having serious reactions.
Immunotherapy, also known as hyposensitization, or simply as allergy shots (though it can be done via oral tablets as well), is an option. This refers to a gradual exposure to specific allergens that a dog is allergic to, and may help the body build up a tolerance. However, this is only partially effective for 75% of dogs, and fully effective for fewer, can be expensive (up to $1000 per year), involves dedication, may take years to work, may need to be continued for life in some cases, and carries the risk of serious allergic reaction including anaphylaxis.
Keeping all this in mind, there are some very effective over-the-counter remedies. Therefore, seeking prescribed treatments will depend on the severity of your Yorkie's symptoms and/or your dog's response to at-home treatments, if you choose to try those first.