Any Dog Allergy Solutions??? Help!!

lynninnewmexicoMarch 1, 2011

I'm more often over on the Decorating or Holidays forums, but come here occasionally to look for solutions. And today, I REALLY could use some tried and true advice regarding my sweet furkid Ronin's allergies.

Quick background: We adopted Ronin, a 5 y/o neutered,black, purebred dobie from a doberman rescue group when he was just 3 y/o. He wasn't abused or abandoned, just unwanted when the new baby started walking. He's the most mellow dog I've ever known and very sweet. The rescue people had already started him on fish oil tabs to try and counteract his major itching when we got him . . . which is still a major problem and the reason I'm asking for advice here from you.

~ No skin lesions or loss of hair ever, and his coat has always been very lusterous and healthy.

~Pretty much non-stop scratching, which is NOT localized to any one area. That's another thing I should mention:it's never just a 'scratch, scratch, scratch' with him; it's always prolonged scratching that can go on for minutes.

~ Many vet check-ups since then have shown him to be in good health and of the right weight for his large size (95lbs). He does have a mild form of canine hemophilia (bleeder's disease), though, but it's never been a problem. I wonder if the itching could be a symptom of that??? Hmmm.

~ Per our vet's suggestion, he's been off all poultry, beef and grains for the past 2 years with no noticeable change in his itching. He does love this food (Taste of the Wild's Pacific Stream),though, and so we'll keep him on it.

~ Not over or under bathed and only with oatmeal dog shampoo for allergies. Still no change.

~ Having ruled out a food allergy causing this, our vet now feels that it's probably environmental (juniper, etc.) and he has Ronin on two 25mg Hydroxyz tabs (Rx allergy tabs), twice a day along with one fish oil capsule. He's not scratching 24/7 like he used to, but is still scratching a lot and even wakes us up in the middle of the night scratching for long periods of time.

~ our vet, who's very good and been in practice for at least 30 years, doesn't feel that canine allergy tests are all that conclusive and more of an expensive waste of money. DH, a family practice doc, agrees, and so we haven't had any done on Ronin.

~ I've tried taking him in for acupuncture, but this didn't work either for him.

~ we live in the mountains of New Mexico, surrounded by evergreen and juniper/cedar forests and cacti. Because of that and the high incidence of rodent-caused Bubonic Plague and Hantavirus in the area, Ronin is an indoor dog that we take on a lot of walks on the roads, not through the brush.

~ brick floors with Oriental rugs, instead of wall-to-wall carpet, so we have also ruled out allergies to the carpet or cleaning solutions.


~ Have you ever tried any OTC meds, Rx meds, vitamins, shampoos, anything that has helped your dog's allergy problems?

~ I'm now thinking about getting rid of his present two beds, in case they have old cedar shavings and/or some other allergen in them. I need to come up with replacements that are easily machine washable, though. Any ideas?

I hope that haven't loaded you down with TMI, but I didn't think you would be able to accurately assess the situation without it.

Thanks for any and all ideas or suggestions!


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I have a basset hound that has seasonal allergies and its that time of the year again in my area.Pollen is everywhere and I noticed she started scratching a few days ago.I've tried everything as she is 8 years old now and has been like this for many years.I use predisone to get her over the itchiness,I only have to use it for a few days several times a year.While I wish she didn't have to use it this is what works for us.Also she stays inside alot during pollen season.All she has to do is lay on the grass and she breaks out and then she has a rash that she makes worse.

I to use taste of the wild pacific stream dog food.Both my bassets do very well on this food.I wish you luck.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 2:03PM
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I have used the Health Concern Skin Balance from the Only Natural Pet Store a couple years ago. Our Brittany has been progressively itchy over the last few years and we figured it was seasonal because he itched only from spring to fall. I was ready to start him on it again last year but no itching. I thought about what we changed and the only thing different is the flea preventative. For years we used Frontline Plus and last year out vet said he now recommends Comfortis. I believe there is a connection. Years ago I noticed that Spot would lick his paws for a few days after applying Frontline. I asked the vet if he could be allergic to it but the vet said he didn't think so. He had never heard about a dog being allergic to it. I'm waiting to see what this year brings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Allergy help

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 3:02PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I had a collie with itchy skin problems that turned out to stem from a hypothyroid condition, and disappeared after he was put thyroid hormone replacement therapy. But his hair was brittle and falling out, and he had skin lesions too, so this doesn't sound like your dog's situation if he has a healthy looking coat and no skin lesions.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 7:08PM
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Have you tried a homeopathic vet yet? Maybe they would have some solutions that have not already been tried. Poor guy and poor ya'll. It's so frustrating when your furbaby is not feeling well. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:44PM
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I had a collie/shepherd mix with environmental allergies. She was on steroids 9 months out of the year for her itching. I switched to raw feeding and it completely eliminated the itching. My other dog also benefited from the change to raw. She used to throw up in the early morning if I didn't feed her a small meal before going to bed. She also had indescribably horrible gas. Feeding raw eliminated both problems.

It wasn't a difficult diet to feed, and was less expensive than buying commercial food. Miss Itchy lived to 15 years, and Miss Gassy lived to 14 1/2. If you do any research on it, it seems like a lot of work and confusing. I was never really picky about getting the perfect balance of everything, did just a basic plan, and my dogs did great.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 10:49PM
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hmmm. interesting. you might try a couple of things. A bones and raw food diet. You might also ask your vet about giving your dog might stop the itching and break the cycle....good luck

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 3:36AM
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Thanks for all your ideas and suggestions; I really appreciate them!
Debbie: We've tried the Prednisone, too, via tablets and injectables and it really does cause a big improvement with his itching. The only problem is that it also causes about 5-7 days of incontinence, which can make for a lot of messes with a large dog like Ronin. Have you had that problem with yours? I'm glad you've mentioned it, though. His itching is getting much worse as the juniper pollen here starts blowing. One injection will last him for several months and I'm getting desperate!
Glaserberl: Hmmmm . . . I was wondering about a possible connection to Frontline, too. I'm definitely going to ask my vet about switching to Comfortis this season to see if it helps. Am also going to check out the Health Concern Skin Balance. Thanks!
Spedigrees: You're right, but we did have him checked for that anyway and it came back negative.
Ladybugfruit: yes we did. That's where he had his acupuncture. Very nice doc, but she said it would possibly take close to a year or so for us to see any real improvement . . . if there was any. At $100 a visit and her wanting to see Ronin every week for a while, we decided to look elsewhere, though.
Weed: I'm so glad that you mentioned the Raw Diet! A local breeder had also mentioned that to me last year. My vet nixed it, saying it wasn't balanced and opened the dog up to all sorts of complications, including internal punctures from the raw bones . . . but if it worked for you, I'm going to call that breeder and talk to her about trying it. Thanks!!!!
Mazer: I think I will give that Raw Diet a try. As for the Benadryl, I think the Hydroxyz is a type of Benadryl. I need to ask DH about that one. Thanks!

Again, thank you all for taking the time to help me out with your great suggestions!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 11:39AM
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As far as hydroxyzine vs diphenhydramine (benadryl): just like people, one antihistamine may work better for a certain individual than another antihistamine. There are about a dozen antihistamines that may work; the only way to know is to try.

Prednisone: While it is not advisable to be on steroids all the time, lower doses can be very beneficial. I have had good success with Temaril-P which is an antihistamine combined with a very low dose steroid. Most of my patients do not have any adverse effects with Temaril-P even if they do have tons of urination with higher doses of prednisone alone.

Allergy testing: useless unless you get the immunotherapy based on the results. Nobody believes the food allergens because they don't seem to correlate but as far as grasses, pollens, molds, insects, etc. it seems to be pretty good. Allergy shots (NOT steroids but immunotherapy) helps about 60-80% of dogs. It's not a magic bullet: my own dog still required pred every once in a while to control itching. But it did greatly reduce the amount of pred he needed. It's expensive but if it helps like it did my own dog, SO worth it.

Raw diet: definitely worth a try but be sure you are feeding a complete and balanced diet. It's not easy to get the proper amounts of all the vitamins and minerals needed unless you get some guidance.

The thing my dog responded to best was when we got rid of our carpet. Not exactly practical for everyone but it REALLY helped since once of his biggest allergens was dust mites. It was the one environmental allergen we could actually eliminate. Trees, molds, and insects proved impossible;)

Other things that help:
Allerderm SpotOn- a topical fatty acid supplement
Allermyl shampoo every other week- more hydrating than oatmeal shampoo
Change topical flea/tick control from Frontline to something else. If ticks are not a problem in your area then Comfortis may be good. However Comfortis does not kill ticks so if they *are* a problem you need something like Advantix or a Preventic collar may be needed.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 7:44PM
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I now own my 3rd consecutive allergic dog. (How can one be so lucky?)

Your answer is to get a referral to veterinary allergist. And yes, it costs money. But how much have you wasted up until now?

Stop throwing your money away. Find the cause.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 10:29PM
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Meghane, you are wonderful. Always good advice.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 5:56AM
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Jean, thanks. I'll definitely keep that in mind. I didn't realize that there were allergy specialists for pets. If my new diet for them (see below) doesn't work, I'll look for one to consult.
Elly: thanks. I'm glad that Meghane responded, too!
Meghane, I can't thank you enough for taking the time for that great advice. I really appreciate it! I'm writing it all down and heading down to town later this morning to pick up the Allermyl shampoo and Allerberm SpotOn.

After Weed and Mazers' suggestions yesterday to try the Raw Diet, I spent the next 3 hours researching it and reading everything I could find online about it . . . and I liked what I found. As Meghane mentioned, if you're going to commit to it, you really have to make sure you're giving your pet a balanced diet and not just feed them whatever raw food sounds good to you at the moment.
And so, I called a local woman who has used this diet exclusively with her show dogs for many, many years. She's had such great results that she recently started a side business supplying the best of the best, well-balanced raw diet foods . . . and advice on how to use it to others. She met with me and both my dogs (I also have a 6 y/o Tibetan Spaniel, Chloe) at her home late yesterday afternoon. After talking in more detail about this diet, the benefits of it as well as the importance of how to keep it well-balanced, I had no reservations about putting both my own dogs on it. Her 6 beautiful, healthy dogs have won her many blue ribbons and I could see why. Even the old dogs were agile with teeth as white and healthy as a puppy's.

I decided to buy my food from her, so that I can get the balance, the cuts and portions I need without my having to bungle through it on my own. She's started Ronin on organic, grass-fed beef, bred locally, that she butchered and put up herself. Frankly, I'm VERY glad I don't have to do any of that!! Cut up beef, green tripe (ick! but very healthful and they love the taste), and the raw bones split down the middle to gnaw on. Later there'll be chicken, lamb, etc., meat and bones, too.

Ronin's loving it already. Chloe upchucked her breakfast of it this morning. I may have to change her over more slowly, as rich foods don't sit well on her tummy.

I'll keep you posted on the results and want to thank you all again for the great ideas and advice!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 11:25AM
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I grew up in the New Mexican mountains... what elevation are you living at? The reason I ask, is fleas are rarely a problem above 7000 feet, so chances are Ronin may not be itching due to fleas (if you are let's say Sante Fe elevation). Then whether you use Frontline or Comfortis will make little difference. Environmental allergies are your most likely problem, though when I workded there, I didn't see all that many allergic dogs, not like we have here in California. Still, allergies can crop up anywhere. Other things you can do for allergies along with the antihistamines (which, if they help at all, are worth continuing as they are pretty harmless), is start Ronin on some Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid supplements.. may not help today, but over months can really help with some chronic allergies. And getting the house-dust mite population as low as possible is a good idea, too. Sometimes decreasing allergic symptoms is the best you're gonna get without the help of cortisones (which you should use as sparingly as possible, but use if Ronin is totally miserable). Good luck. What town are you in?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 1:15AM
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lynn, there is a rawfeeding yahoo group that might be a great place for you to go learn, ask questions etc.
I've been rawfeeding for 6 years with great success for my dogs. Just remember, it's easier for the dog if you only introduce one meat source at a time, for about a week before you start adding more, that's probably why Chloe upchucked.
So, on week one, just beef, then on week two, you can add tripe, then if doing well add on chicken etc their bodies time to adjust. They will be okay for a few weeks while they are adjusting, THEN it's balance over time.

Sorry I didn't think to suggest raw, guess I was still half asleep when I read your post. It really is a great way to go. One of my dogs still has some seasonal allergy issues, but nothing like they could be.
Best of luck! Keep us posted and if I can answer any questions I am happy to help.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:20AM
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"My vet nixed it, saying it wasn't balanced and opened the dog up to all sorts of complications, including internal punctures from the raw bones . . . "

Most vets aren't knowledgable about raw diets, so do exactly what you're doing - educate yourself and make your own decisions. The vet and adopter are partners in caring for the dog. Frankly the last place I'd go for nutrional advice is my generalist vet. He's trained in medicine not diet. My dogs have been on raw diets forever and never have diarrhea, allergies, or tummy upsets. In addition to reading books on raw diets, there's a video that I think would be very helpful for you "Functional Fresh Fast Food for Furry Friends" by Karen Becker, DVM. It's just full of great information on diet. I rented it recently and was so impressed with it that I've ordered my own copy to share with friends.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 8:50AM
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My holistic vet also recommends a raw diet, and sells Dr. Becker's book in her office. I know it would be better for my dogs, but we both acknowledge that the prep and storage does take time and effort. Since I barely have time to shop for DH and I, the dogs will need to stay on Orijen for a while. (Orijen is one of the few brands she recommends.)

I hope Ronin gets releif from his itching! My BC was really, really itchy after we rescued him and I didn't know what to do. After trying many things, I took him off grains, beef, chicken, flax, soy and started from there - Orijen 6 fish. The vet added an EPA capsule a day and a splash of salmon oil, along with an herb mix Dang Gui Yin Zi.

As long as he stays on a low dose of the herbs I've been able to control the itching and expand his diet, so we rotate to the Orijen Red without problems. All treats are 100% freeze-dried meat, fish or liver.

We never did determine the main cause of the itching, but since it is now under control I don't want to change anything.

Hopefully when my life calms down we'll try raw. Good luck to you and all the other rew feeders out there!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 10:56AM
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Unbelievable! I'm just learning now the reason why my 11 yr/old female Westie almost died in March of 08. I'm in central FL and my second Westie's been treated for allergies to just about everything (didn't need an expensive allergy test to figure that out either).

The usual treatments with prednisone and sometimes antibiotics were VERY temporary. Being my 2nd Westie I already knew to go as natural as possible with food and flea treatments. But sometimes you have to use the big guns. Back in March 08 I ended up at an expensive skin specialist. She did a skin biopsy as opposed to the useless skin scrape done my most vets and found she had demodectic mange and flea excrements. So she gave her a Comfortis pill and gave me Ivermectin liquid. After 2-3 days my dog was falling off while walking and totally disoriented and clingy. I took her to emergency clinic (of course she gets sick on a weekend). Vet said stop all meds and call specialist first thing Monday morning. I don't think the specialist knew about the interaction problem then, but she put her on Interceptor for 5 months and my Westie was perfect for 2 years.

I never gave her Comfortis monthly (vet don't like this). Only at first sign of scratching(always cut in 4, mixed with can food). Our heavy flea season coincide with pollen season; Oct (trees shedding) and Feb through May (pollen etc) Whenever the temperature hovers between 70F-85F day time.

I also spray my yard and surroundings with the inexpensive flea/tick citrus shampoo from Hartz for $2-$3 at Walmart. Use hose attachement container, pour whole bottle of shampoo plus water and spray. Pray it doesn't rain for a few days and don't water your lawn either. Don't let your pets walk on ANY type of pesticide for 4-5 days. Also, get rid of your carpets. Best is laminate floors with disposable/washable area rugs.

My Comfortis dilemma is, I've been trying to narrow down on a new situation that started to occur with my Westie. At those time of the year mentioned above she has a YEAST overgrowth flair up. Her skin gets greasy, smelly and full of brown debris and dark areas where the most greasy. I've been doing extensive research on Yeast Imbalance here

Turns out MANY dogs diagnosed with allergies have actually Yeast overgrowth and whatever treatments used to treat allergies actually PROVOQUE a yeast overgrowth which cause more scratching, biting and paw licking. What a catch 22!

Main causes of all this is, a weaken immune system caused by immune system suppressants like vaccinations (I only vaccinate this dog when younger), pesticides (who can avoid them totally?) and prednisone (which the specialist said never to give her again) among other things.

Did Comfortis (dose of insecticide) suppressed my Westie's immun system so much so that it triggered a yeast overgrowth AND/OR pollens and other allergies caused the flair up?

In any event I ordered natural Flea Treats and may or may not give her Comfortis again unless a bad flea infestation.

Also looking into this new food by Wysong Epigen; it's starch free.

My conclusion on Comfortis is; every dog is different. If a dog's immun system has been compromised in anyway shape or form by other triggering agents mentioned above, proceed carefully.
Ordering online is cheaper but now vets tell me "Oh well it's been a while since we haven't seen your dog and would like to do exam (take my money again) before we can allow the prescription."

Also very useful to treat skin ailments; most effective for me are:
1)Bathe with Malaseb shampoo (DO leave on 10 min), rinse thorougly, then pour over dog (and leave on) a suiting solution of 2-3 tbs of baking soda diluted in a gallon of warm water. DO NOT submerge dog, the parasites will gather around the neck area. Best is a dog rinsing hose in a shower.

2) Apply ANIMAX ointment on hot spots. (best ointment out of many) cheapest at

3) Add immun booster supplement to dog food. Solid Gold Seameal is good but proceed slowly with SMALLER dosage or you'll come home to a house full of diarrhea.

Keeping finger crossed, for May is always the worst for fleas that I won't have to use Comfortis but since she'll be on Seameal let's hope and pray for no adverse reaction.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 1:31PM
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Last dog was a purebred red Dobie from "infamous" kennel in SE PA... begins with a K. Got Grace at about 12 weeks old. Had her about 3-4 weeks and took her to vets becasue of CONSTANT scratching/chewing. Vet did a skin scrape and told me she had Demodex mange. Caused by demodex mites... something most dogs have but rarely cause problems. The inability for the dog to handle them is due to heredity... trait passed directly from mother to pups. When vet asked where I got her... she just rolled her eyes!?! When I contacted kennel... they're soluntion was RETURN her and pick out another puppy!!! Like I had a defective toaster!! I pushed and they (reluctantly, I'm sure) reimbursed me for the series of weekly medicated dips that went on for 4-6 weeks.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 9:26PM
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