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Is Cytopoint Safe for Dogs?

Written by Anna Hollisey

Updated

Dalmatian having a jolly good scratch

If your dog suffers from persistent itching – caused by an allergy to seasonal or household allergens – then your vet might recommend Cytopoint. Here’s the lowdown on this new treatment, including some of the latest research.

Cytopoint is a new medication for dogs with atopic dermatitis caused by allergies. 

It’s administered through injection, which is given by your veterinarian and lasts between 4-8 weeks

It works by shutting down part of the immune system. How? Cytopoint is an artificial ‘antibody’, which blocks a certain type of cytokine a physiological regulator which prompts functions of the immune system. By binding to and deactivating that cytokine (IL 31), Cytopoint is said to reduce dermatitis in dogs.

It’s important to know that Cytopoint is a new medication and, other than tests which were sponsored by the manufacturer, there is not yet a great deal of research into its safety or side effects.

Manufacturer-supported research shows a success rate of 80-98% in preventing allergic responses (itching). One early study looked at a small group of 24 dogs.

More recently, manufacturer Zoetis has carried out a study into the side effects of Cytopoint. This suggested that the medication does not significantly increase the risk of most (but not all) symptoms – see below.

A study by Zoetis Inc examined the side effects of Cytopoint for a test group of 245 dogs. The control group (63 dogs) was given a placebo.

The rates for all symptoms were similar across the entire sample (placebo and medicated). The dogs treated with Cytopoint were slightly more likely to have an inflamed ear canal (13%), and significantly more likely to develop erythema (8%; this is a skin disorder which can be serious or even fatal). Anorexia occurred in 6.2% of dogs who were using Cytopoint. 

There’s a table showing the rates for each side effect here.

In general use, side effects are reported to be quite rare; most will develop within about 72 hours of taking the medication. 

The immune system works hard to fight disease and bacteria, and it also prompts the body’s response to allergens. Cytopoint’s active ingredient, Lokivetmab, is a synthetic ‘antibody’ which is designed to stop one of the proteins which causes allergy-prompted itching.

So Cytopoint does not suppress the whole immune system; instead it binds to that one cytokine (IL 31) which is known to cause itching. However, experts argue that blocking part of the immune system could cause broader problems, and autoimmune conditions have been reported.

Cytopoint can only be administered by a veterinarian, and they can advise you on compatibility with your dog’s current medication. 

The manufacturer’s research shows that Cytopoint can be given alongside parasiticides, antibiotics, antifungals, corticosteroids, vaccines, immunotherapy, antihistamines and other antipruritics. 

Further Reading

Learn more about the causes and symptoms of canine allergies. Could your dog have a seasonal allergy? Find out which foods to eliminate if you suspect a food allergy. Of course, our supplement The One can support your dog’s nervous and immune systems – and is recommended to help with allergies.