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Posts from — January 2019

January 31, 2019   No Comments

Emma and Matti Enjoy the Snow

Well, it didn’t snow in my neck of the woods, but it did in Tennessee which is where GRRSM dogs Emma and Matti now live.

The girls were adopted this past year by Kathy and Kent. They also have Jenna, who is from the rescue and their first GRRSM pup was Layla, who has crossed over the bridge.

Emma was fostered by Becky and Matti, is one of last years China pups and was fostered by Susan.

Kathy and Kent report that the girls are “Joined at the hip.” Emma loves to bother her year older sister, by climbing under her and trying to tip her over to wrestle. Wonder where she learned that move?

Thanks for the update Kathy and Kent!

January 30, 2019   No Comments

If you see or hear a dog outside in these conditions, please call your local Animal Control or County Police. Animals are required to have shelter and access to water which is hard to keep unfrozen when the temps are this low. Doing nothing makes you just as guilty.

Animal Control:
St. Mary’s County 301-475-8018
Charles County 301-609-3425
Calvert County 410-535-1600

January 30, 2019   No Comments

January 29, 2019   No Comments

January 29, 2019   No Comments

Cytopoint or Apoquel For Itching

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Cytopoint for Itchy Skin | Dr. Dodds HemopetSeveral readers asked us about Cytopoint, a newer medication to relieve itchy skin in dogs, and how it is different than Apoquel after an article we recently penned about the latter.


Apoquel (oclacitinib) is a synthetic medication that modulates two (JAK1 and JAK3) out the four known Janus Kinase (JAK) enzymes. JAKs are important in white and red blood cell formation, immunity, inflammation, and also act as sentinels in the body to potentially help protect against tumor formation.

Once the JAKs are inhibited, inflammatory cytokines – that result in inflammation and itching – are slowed or stopped. The cytokines affected are interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-6, and IL-13 for allergy and inflammation. Another cytokine, IL-31, is also affected, but it is the one associated with itchy skin (pruritis).

However, Apoquel affects several important body functions as well as to simply stop itchy skin.

Used for the long-term, Apoquel can lead to a decrease in white blood cells and elevated liver values. Additionally, it increases a dog’s susceptibility to infection and neoplasms, which are new and abnormal growths of tissue in some part of a body that are characteristic of cancers such as mast cell tumors or even adenocarcinoma.

Cytopoint, by contrast, is a very appropriate name for this newer medication. Cytopoint is a protein (monoclonal antibody) and directly binds to the cytokine, IL-31, which is the one associated with chronic itching.

Long-term studies have not yet been published regarding Cytopoint, but very few side effects have been reported in clinical cases. Generally, fatigue has been noted within the first 24-48 hours after injection.

A researcher noted that a few cases showed diminished response with each additional injection, suggesting that antibodies to Cytopoint were developing (a process called tachypylaxis = rapid and short-term onset of drug tolerance).

So instead of affecting many different parts of the body like Apoquel, Cytopoint gets to the point: targeting the exact cytokine that causes the itchy skin.


Apoquel is an oral and daily medication. However, the manufacturer states that a dog caregiver can give Apoquel for short periods of time and that itch relief should occur within 4 hours.

Cytopoint is an injection given every four to eight weeks by a veterinarian. The manufacturer (same one for both drugs) says that some dogs may need year-round continuous treatment, whereas other dogs may only need it when itchiness flares.


Another option is allergen-specific immunotherapy, although this author has had limited success with it. It functions by gradually increasing the given dosage amount of the specific antigen(s) causing the problem until the tolerance threshold has been achieved. Immunotherapy for environmental antigens can be administered via injectable shots (Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy; ASIT) or a newer treatment option that puts a few drops under the tongue (Sublingual Immunotherapy; SLIT). ASIT and SLIT are specifically tailored to the individual pet.

If the treatment is successful, veterinarians might be able to extend the interval between administrations or cease treatments altogether, but this therapy has an uneven success rate. The success rate for ASIT to alleviate symptoms is stated to be approximately 60-80% and SLIT has been around 60%.

Side effects are noted to be uncommon but they can include injection-site reactions and the rare potential for anaphylactic shock. Thus, we should use caution when prescribing this protocol for environmental allergies.


Dr. Dodds and Hemopet Holistic Care clinic use Cytopoint for chronic atopic dermatitis in severe cases, but only after certain steps are taken first.


Jumping into immediate itch relief – without knowing the exact cause or causes of the itch – may quell a problem, but doesn’t address the underlying cause which needs to be eliminated. On top of that, it can be costly.

So, first, proper testing needs to be completed.

Itchy skin is often caused by a food sensitivity or intolerance. So, it is preferred to eliminate any documented reactive food proteins from your companion dog’s diet. For this, we suggest NutriScan Food Sensitivity and Intolerance Test for Dogs. NutriScan testing is recommended every 18 months, starting around puberty. Food reactivities can change and are cumulative as pets age.

At the same time, you should also have a serum-based blood test completed for seasonal and environmental allergens such as grasses, weeds, trees, wool, cotton, pollen, mold, fungi, dust mites, fleas, etc. Hemopet also offers this testing.

After NutriScan testing, many dog parents realize that they must carefully read all ingredient labels to be sure that the product is appropriate to feed. They remark that they are happy to have their dogs no longer itching, but also admit that sometimes finding the right foods can frustrating. Hemopet offers an inexpensive consultation to review the results and suggest suitable food options.

Regardless, it is easier to eliminate one or more reactive foods than environmental allergens. Exposure to environmental allergens can be minimized. For instance, if your dog has a reaction to grass, you can wipe off his paws after a walk or have him wear booties. However, if these preventative measures do not work to minimize the reaction, talk to your veterinarian about Cytopoint.


Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic Injection, CADI Injection. Zoetis US,

Cosgrove, Sallie B., et al. “Long-Term Compassionate Use of Oclacitinib in Dogs with Atopic and Allergic Skin Disease: Safety, Efficacy and Quality of Life.” Veterinary Dermatology, vol. 26, no. 3, 2015, doi:10.1111/vde.12194,

Gonzales, A J et al. “Oclacitinib (APOQUEL(®)) is a novel Janus kinase inhibitor with activity against cytokines involved in allergy” Journal of veterinary pharmacology and therapeutics vol. 37, no. 4, 2014, 317-24,

Pieper, Jason. “Atopic Dermatitis: Steroids vs. Atopica vs. Apoquel vs. Cytopoint.” University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, 18 Jan. 2017,


January 28, 2019   No Comments

Charlie now Grizzly Adjusts to His New Family

As for settling in, I think he’s doing great. There have been a few “misunderstandings” among the dogs, but all posturing and growls, no contact that I have seen. And it’s only happened a few times. They are even sharing toys and couch space. Earlier today I caught Grizzly and moxie laying down leaning against each other! He was just now looking out the window with her, but got down before I could take a picture.

We got him evaluated for daycare and he passed with flying colors. He is still a little nervous when he goes, not knowing exactly what is going on but he will get the hang of it once he realizes we’ll always pick him back up.

He has stayed alone with moxie with the run of the house and has not gotten into any trouble.

The only issue we’ve had is he got aggressive with my neighbor and actually snapped at him. This was outside and maybe five or ten minutes after the initial introduction. But he did great with the men at daycare. We have an appointment with our trainer next weekend and they specialize in high energy dogs, including aggression issues. Hopefully we can teach him that when we say it’s okay, it’s okay. He’ll start obedience training the week after.

All in all, he’s doing great. We’ll work on his training and he’ll do great. You were probably not expecting a novel, but here it is anyway. 🙂

Thank you so much!

January 27, 2019   No Comments

January 26, 2019   No Comments

January 26, 2019   No Comments

January 25, 2019   No Comments