GSD has allergies...any advice? (long)

doucanoeJune 3, 2009

Hi all, I don't post here very often. I am usually on the cooking or daylily forums but have visited here on occasion.

Here's my dilemna. I have an 11 year old German Shepherd who is one of the joys of my life. He has had allergies for years, At one point I was giving him shots twice a week. After we moved to the country, we weaned him off the shots and his allergies seemed to be in remission. That was 7 years ago, and now they have returned big time.

I have had him in to the vet and they think this one might be food related. He had a rash on his back that left scabby areas and looked like he had terrible dandruff. We changed his food to a salmon-based, but I noticed no difference. I rubbed peroxide and then coconut oil into his skin and that seemed to make the rash disappear.

Then I read that corn, soy and wheat are often part of the problem. So on the advice of the woman at the local pet shop/feed mill, I tried a food without any of those ingredients. She also recommended a teaspoon of sardine oil each day to help his skin and give him the fatty acids he needs.

That was 2-1/2 weeks ago. Now he has huge scaly patches that almost look like psoriasis on his back and hips, and he is scratching/chewing big raw spots where they are.

I think I should immediately change back to the salmon-based food and eliminate the fish oil. Do you agree? Could it be the coconut oil that is irritating him? I am lost for answers and I think the vet is too. They want to put him on Prednisone, 1. that drug scares the bejeebers out of me and 2.they would need to wean him off Rimadyl which is not an option as he has terrible arthritis.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I just don't know what to do for my baby.


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Besides his food what treats do you give? Many people change food but still give treats that have bad things in them. As far as I know fish oil should not be causing problems. Hopefully someone on here with a bit more knowledge will reply. I've heard that some dogs can be highly allergic to food with chicken and grains. We stay away from those things.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 4:44PM
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You need to find out what he is allergic to.

There is plenty of information about "elimination diets" on the internet, on this site, and you can talk to your vet about doing this.

What are the listed ingredients on the sardine oil? It may contain something other than sardines...

You need to find food with limited ingredients (or make your own dog food)... get your dog to a point where seems comfortable and then start reintroducing ingredients one at time... very carefully - to identify what is triggering reactions.

There are other ailments than cause skin problems, thyroid problems come to mind, especially for an older dog. Did you vet do a thorough blood panel to screen for any other disorders?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 6:11PM
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Hi Linda, I agree with trying to isolate the culprit with an elimination diet. But I also think you need to take him to a new vet to get a second opinion. What did your vet do for diagnosis?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 6:35PM
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That your dog is on Rimadyl and is now experiencing rashes gives me pause. Is your dog routinely tested for liver problems??? Here s my suggestion. Ask the vet about Metcam or other pain reliever for the arthritis. My dog is on half a vicodin and a pepcid. This is not often prescribed for dogs (I think vets are worried that owners would get into the vicodin - but my dog has used it on and off for years - ever since a vet botched a surgery to repair his back leg for a tendon issue) for the arthritis, and put your dog on the Prednisone for a limited amount of time.
Go get your dog on the BARF diet. Bones and raw food. avoid all sugary products like corn and potatoes and wheat. You might add wild rice to your BARF diet...good luck hope you figure things out.
It is just a guess but the patch may not be responding to anything topical because it is caused by internal issues.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 8:12PM
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Boy this sounds familiar .. my 12 year old Dakota, looked like his skin was flaking off this past winter/early spring. He is now on Tramadol for arthrtis, and I use Salmon Oil in his food. Have gone to a salmon based food and is much better.

He is tested for liver and kidneys regularly, unfortunately he is now having monthly nosebleeds which we all assume is unrelated. Last blood work showed an elevated level of kidney or liver, forget which now, and he's on Marin for that.

But, back to the subject at hand .. his skin has gotten much better. Not sure exactly why, it's hard to figure out since it's now spring and the house is opened up and the hot/dry fireplace is not blowing hot/dry air ...

Skin conditions are very hard to figure out, but he's that bad and recen blood tests have ruled out internal things, I would go with the suggestion of the elimination diet.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 1:17PM
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I'm a strong beleiver in home cooked diets for dogs with skin problems and when I need a diet plan for someone I always send them here....Link below.
The sight is The contact person there is Lew, explain your dogs problems and No doubt they can come up with a proper plan for your dog based on the dogs medical history

Here is a link that might be useful: home made diets for dogs

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:56PM
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Thanks for all the input and advice, everyone!

So far I switched him back to the salmon based food, eliminated the sardine oil and gave him the antibiotics the vet prescribed and for now his skin has cleared up. He still scratches a bit, but not nearly as much as before. I am not crazy about giving him antibiotics, but I needed to get this under control quickly.

I will look into the raw diets, but I am afraid it will be very expensive to feed an 85 lb. dog raw.

I would love to find a way to get him off the Rimadyl, but the arthritis is so bad he has difficulty getting up without it.

My friend gave me the name & number of a holistic vet that she uses. I am going to see if I can get him in for a consult with her. She also recommended an herbal remedy called "Mobility" that she gives her 14 year old Lhasa Apso and swears it does wonders. Might look further into that as well.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 11:12PM
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I was just at the vet yesterday with my Lab/Akita mix who has what seems to be a chronic ear infection. Since he is allergic to insect bites we began to discuss the possibility that he has a food allergy, since one of the symptoms is chronic ear infections. The vet gave me a handout with information on food allergies and it doesn't sound like it's food your dog is allergic to. Food allergies usually show themselves specifically around the head and stomach area. Along with paw licking. My guy does lick at his paws sometime and loves to rub his face. Neither to the point of doing damage to the skin, but I suspect it is food so I'm going to start him on an allergen diet.

Was your dog tested previously to see specifically what it is he's allergic to?

Antibiotics are not a bad thing and when the skin is infected from the chronic itching, you have to treat the infection to relieve the symptoms. I'm glad you baby is getting relief.

Thanks everyone for all the other great information. Cindy, I'm going to that site right now. At the cost of the allergen diet sold by Royal Canin and others, I'll have to cook for my dogs.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 11:23AM
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First I would go back to your vet about the scaly patches if you have not already. These could be something else and could be serious so please have them checked by your vet! I don't want to scare you but my 12-year-old dog had a patch of scaly skin and hair loss and it turned out she had a bacterial and fungal infection and skin cancer.

The best thing would be to have allergy testing done to find out the source of the allergic reactions. Barring that I would recommend using a limited ingredient grain free diet. A limited ingredient diet is one with a shorter ingredient list which usually uses only one type of meat as the protein source. This way if your dog continues to have a reaction to the food you can narrow down the possibilities of what is causing the reaction because there is a small ingredient list.

Keep in mind that it can take several weeks before you see a difference when trying a new food.

Some examples of good diets of this type:

Natural Balance Potato and Venison
Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Fish
BLUE Fish and Sweet Potato
California Natural Herring and Sweet Potato
Canine Caviar Venison and Pea
Pinnacle Trout and Sweet Potato
Honest Kitchen Force

For the psoriasis type spots I would ask your vet if they carry a line of products called Douxo Calm. This line includes a shampoo, spray and spot treatment for allergic dermatitis. I have used their other product, Douxo Seborrhea, on two dogs for different skin issues and it worked REALLY well. If your vet doesn't carry it, see if they can look it up for you and if they think it is ok to use, then you can order it online.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 3:01AM
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My jack russell got lyme disease and ended up with a chronic case of colitis. At one point she was hemmorging so bad, we thought we'd lose her. She saw several specialists, got put on a free program sponsored by Hills, but none of that helped. Finally, a vet put her on a small done of prednisone and it did wonders. She now gets 1/3 a pill every 3 days (tiny, tiny dose) and stays on the organic Natural Balance canned foods (no wheat, rice, grain). Maybe it's time to try the medication - for the sake of your dog.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:10PM
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Linda, check out It is an interesting site that promotes raw food for pets. You can purchase and keep supplies in the freezer. The site will give information on daily consumption according to size of dog.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:53PM
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My GSD also has allergies but her's was affecting her stomach and she would have the noisey tummy and just would not eat. My vet felt it was a food allergy so I did alot of internet research to find a food that was good for her. I already knew that corn, wheat, etc caused a skin issue in my older dog so I try to avoid the grains. I finally settled with California Natural lamb & rice. It has limited ingredients that helps out with allergies. she likes canned food on her dry kibble and that was also causing her to have stomach issues even though I got canned food that was 100% protein. Aftering removing things from her diet, I found that she was reacting to Chicken and beef. She can handle grains but I went ahead and removed the corn and wheat. All treats are corn and wheat free and does not contain any chicken. She can take a little beef. try using a food with limited ingredients.
Also on my chow who has skin issues, I use Solid Gold Seameal and that seems to help with the dry, itchy, flaky skin.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 1:55PM
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Consider trying orthomolecular therapy (Proanthozone) combined with Omega-3 fatty acid therapy (Dermcaps or 3VCaps). Many vet schools are exploring this type of allergy therapy and dogs with chronic allergies often respond great to it.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Veterinary Insider

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 11:35PM
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