Atopica Not Working

Atopica is definitely a miracle drug for a lot of dogs, but Tierce has been on it every day since May and he’s still scratching.  His coat is looking better, but it kills me to watch him chew at himself or scratch all the time.  What gives?

According to Atopica’s website, Atopica works by blocking the allergic reaction.  Tierce is on the correct dosage for a dog of his weight, so what gives?  Should he have a bigger dosage of Atopica?  Does he need Prednisone?  What about desensitization shots?  I’m calling the vet today to make an appointment, hopefully for next Saturday.

On Googling “Atopica doesn’t work” and “Atopica not working”, I’m finding a few cases where Atopica doesn’t appear to work for the dogs in question.  Recommendations run from changing their food to desensitization shots.  Tierce was on Purina Hypoallergenic, but it doesn’t seem to be helping; I’m thinking of switching him back to raw and seeing if that helps.

It’s entirely possible that Tierce has developed a further allergy to a food ingredient or some other material in his environment.  I know our home has had mould in it – it could be something like that.  We’ve had all the tests done – skin plugs, scrapings and the answer returned was “Definitely an allergy to something.”  Well, thanks, Mr. Scientist.


  1. a combo of raw & yucca root was amazing this season for my Tsuki. She had red eyes and rubbed her snout for a month until I gave her the yucca (she took temeril p up until then) and it really, really worked.

  2. Sorry to hear the Atopica’s not working… them’s the big guns, as we’ve heard. I’m not sure how much it costs in Canada, but here in the U.S., it’s a very expensive drug to put your dog on, only to have it NOT work.

    I really hope you can stay away from Prednisone. That’s what our vet gave us right at the outset (Prednisolone, in the form of Temaril-P, which combines an antihistamine with the steroid). I’m really not convinced that the amount of relief it offers is relative to either the financial or physical costs. I think if you’ve already gone as far as Atopica, the desensitization shots would be the next step.

    Here’s another immunotherapy program I’ve recently heard of:

  3. I’ve fed both of my shibas raw food (my older one has never eaten anything but), and I found that if I feed him beef or bison in the fall he scratches and chews all.the.time. I stop feeding those around this time of year and he’s good to go. Another friend of mine has a Shiba with a beef allergy as well….not sure if it’s an ‘allergy’ per se, but the little dude bites and scratches for days after eating it.

  4. Severus was suffering from severe allergies and we were on Atopica for a while. It was working but in the end I started to get hesitant to give him that every day. I decided to find some more natural remedies for him. Right now I’m giving him a combo of Quercetin, Freeze dried stinging nettle pills, power mushrooms. It has helped him but he is has his itchy moments.

  5. How long does it take the atopica to work ? I am also curious about Sean’s dogs who are allergic to the raw beef in the fall. What do you feed them instead and do they go back on the beef in another season. My dog is chewing and scratching himself constantly. I switched from a kibble to raw beef about 6 weeks ago, and within the past week he has been going crazy,even has pulled out his fur,his skin is raw and he wakes up constantly during the night. I also found 1 flee on him. The vet put him on an antibiotic and then the atopica, i bathed him with flea shampoo, and gave a pill to kill all fleas and larvae. Nothing is helping, now I am wondering if it could be the raw beef. Any suggestions?

  6. Sounds like a secondary yeast infection. My vet couldn’t detect yeast on my shiba, but the doggy dermatologist did. He did combo Atopica & Ketoconozole (for the yeast) until the yeast was killed. The Atopica represses the immune response to allergies and has been a lifesaver, but once the skin has been opened via itching yeast infection is very common.
    Regarding the yeast, I noticed that his chin and ears didn’t smell like their usual clean shiba self…kind of more greasy and odorous. That has completely gone away now that the yeast is gone. Of course I watch out for yeast re-infection if he scratches hard and potentially breaches the skin again. The yeast was so itchy that he vibrated every time he scratched his face, but now he is fine.
    Good luck with your baby.

  7. Thanks, Maria. Tierce smells all right (unless he has been varying his beauty routine with mud or carrion), but the yeast infection suggestion sounds like a good one. We’ve had skin plugs done to determine what was affecting him and they came back with ‘atopic dermatitis’, which is a fancy way of saying ‘allergies’ which is a fancy way of saying, ‘You know what you were thinking were allergies? Yeah, that’s it.’ So we’re keeping going with the Vanectyl-P – not my first choice, but it’s what works…

    • I had never owned a dog be4 and got Bubba my bulldog who’s 11 yrs old now over the yrs he had many ear infections very yeasty,vet wud always put him on antibiotics and then it was a vicious cycle back and forth with the yeast it was awful. Well about 6 yrs ago I started googling natural stuff for it and I put apple cider vinegar in his water,got him probiotics in capsules and pour a little keifir on his food and he has never had another ear infection again.

  8. Hi! I have a shiba and a jack russell. I came to your site because of the allergies that he has is driving him crazy. The vet prescribed Atopica because I refuse to give him steroids but I am trying a supplement that has the qercetin and nettle in it. My vet does not believe in this so I am on my own on this. Can I give him this supplement along with the atopica? This is part of the year that is a killer for him with his allergies. Any information you can provide will be much appreciated.

    • I am not a big fan of ‘natural’ cures. The first reason is that unless testing has been done to see how they interact with other medications, you don’t know if there may be serious complications. Take a look at the WebMD page for quercetin. In the Interactions category, it states:

      “Cyclosporin (Neoral, Sandimmune) is changed and broken down by the liver. Quercetin might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down cyclosporin (Neoral, Sandimmune). Taking quercetin might increase the effects and side effects of this medication. Before taking quercetin talk to your healthcare provider if you take cyclosporin (Neoral, Sandimmune).”

      I’d stop the supplement now, just for this reason. Drugs currently on the market, whether or not they are used for humans or dogs, have been extensively tested to determine whether a) they work for the conditions they are used to treat b) whether they produce a similar result in similar patients and c) what dosage is optimal for the patient.

      One of the serious problems with ‘natural’ supplementation is that it is largely unregulated and you have no way of knowing, short of hiring a chemist, how much dosage is in each pill/drop/teabag.

      Another is that many supplements have not been tested to see if they interact with drugs that are on the market. We’re lucky in this case that quercetin has been discovered to interact with cyclosporine. Stinging nettle has not been reported to do so by WebMD and I can’t find anything online to indicate that it does. However, again, Atopica has been tested to produce a measurable reaction in your dog with such-and-such a dosage for so many days. If stinging nettle has any effect on your dog’s immune system or any other part of his body, you can’t tell whether it is because of the Atopica or the stinging nettle.

      I’ll tell you right now that a lot of dogs get super-nausea with the Atopica, due to the castor oil used as a carrier. If your dog is throwing up the pill more than he’s eating it, that will determine how much cyclosporine is actually getting into him and thus determine how much it can alleviate his symptoms.

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