View Full Version : Dog's skin allergies
02-21-2006, 11:59 AM
Does anyone have an issue with their dog's skin?
My poodle scratches, licks, and nips at himself all the time, creating irritated skin and sometimes lesions. The vet diagnosed a flea allergy, but Frontline hasn't seemed to help much.
We have tried the following regime:
1) Medicated shampoos
2) Vitamin oil skin capsules (prescribed by vet)
3) Hydrocortisone spray
4) Flea powder (the kind that is supposed to cure mange)
5) A wheat-free diet (he's currently on Natural Balance allergy formula duck/potato kibble)
All of these combined help to some degree, but there are some days he really seems uncomfortable. Last night, for example, he kept waking me up with his licking and scratching at himself.
His skin has only gotten troublesome in the past couple of years. Our other dog has no problems aside from the occasional irritation.
Any ideas for managing this? We've been to the vet several times over it--the latest course of action is the skin oil pills.
02-21-2006, 02:51 PM
Our dog developed skin allergies a few years ago. We had to switch dog food, and after that it calmed down a lot. But she gets worse during spring and fall, and has occasional issues in between. Our vet recommended bathing her once a week, and he told us to just use Baby shampoo, although we've also used medicated oatmeal shampoo in the past. Mercy also gets fish oil capsules and they are great for her skin and coat.
Beyond that, and the things you mentioned, I don't have many ideas. Good luck, though!
02-21-2006, 02:53 PM
We have a poodle with allergies as well. We've eliminated corn, wheat, and chicken from his diet and that has helped some. Our vet also has us rinse him off before bed every night during the roughest season (summer into fall) to remove any allergens that are sticking in his hair from his walks.
We give 1/4 of an antihistamine twice a day also during his roughest times. He's also got ear drops (his allergies cause an overgrowth of yeast in his ears) that help some.
Another thing that is really important for him is to get him groomed more often because the allergy itch combined with the hair growth between his pads drives him absolutely bonkers.
02-21-2006, 03:09 PM
Kanga, do you just rinse him down with plain water at the end of the day?
Since our boy is allergic to fleas, I'm wondering if this might help him sleep a little better at night.
02-21-2006, 03:12 PM
There are three big groups of allergic disease: flea allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergies. It's very difficult to differentiate between them and no definitive diagnostic test. This is the short short version of what I tell clients:
Flea allergies respond to flea treatment. Those dogs tend to be itchiest over their tail.
Food allergic dogs (and while wheat may be a big problem, protein sources are as well) can only be diagnosed by an elimination diet- a strict 8-12 week course of a prescription or home cooked diet with NO other sources of food- no Greenies, no treats, no flavored Heartguard, no rawhides, etc.
Environmental allergies are what you are left with when there is no response to the other two. Those tend to be more seasonal in nature, but where you are living it can be year round. About 20% of those dogs respond to antihistamines but the more severe cases need steroids, hyposensitization therapy, or immunosuppressant therapy.
Allergies are challenging and it can take a while and multiple visits to establish the correct diagnosis. Veterinary dermatologists specialize in allergies and I often refer more complicated cases to them.
02-21-2006, 03:55 PM
I was reading a big article about skin disorders in the "Whole Dog Journal"--it said as much that diagnosis can be pretty tricky.
I think I may have to take him in to a specialist. His skin problems tend to be concentrated around the "hairless" parts of his body--the insides of his hind legs, what would be his armpits, and what would be his scrotum (if he had one). Whereas, on the rare occasion that our other dog itches, he tends to nip around his tail.
02-21-2006, 04:00 PM
If he's still having a problem after using the frontline religiously I definitely would pursue further diagnostics!
02-22-2006, 08:54 AM
We rinse with just plain water. The vet recommended that as using shampoo every day could irritate his already sensitive skin. It really does make a world of difference for us during the warmest months and as a by product allows me to sleep better since I have a lot of environmental allergies. He really doesn't like it when his hair gets too long but when he's clipped close it takes just a couple minutes a night to rinse and blow dry him.
02-22-2006, 09:19 AM
My Chihauhau just last year started to develop a skin allergy. 10 years on the same food, no table scraps and $1500 later with testing with still no answer on what's causing it.
He has the same aliments as Wendalah described. We have to bath him once a week using a Ph balance shampoo which seems to help along with the occasional 1/4 tab of Zyrtec seems to help, but it comes back.
02-22-2006, 09:31 AM
think I may have to take him in to a specialist. His skin problems tend to be concentrated around the "hairless" parts of his body--the insides of his hind legs, what would be his armpits, and what would be his scrotum (if he had one).
This is how my dog is as well. Through process of elimination, we determined that we were dealing with enviromental allergies and had a blood test run on my dog. She is, essentially, allergic to the outdoors. ;) She is allergic to many common trees, grasses, weeds and molds. We have started her on a round of antigens (jesvet- pls correct me if I'm explaining this wrong) in hopes of building up her immunities to these things. The antigens are giving via a shot every other day for a month- then spaced out further throughout the course of the year. We just started this therapy 2 weeks ago, so I'm not seeing any big changes- I was told it could take up to a year for this to take effect. The blood test cost roughly $160 and the first couple months of shots cost $120. However, my poor dog was so miserable it's well worth it.
I hope you can get to the bottom of this!
My lab has had the same itchy spots as you describe, wendelah, since he was a small puppy. My vet tried mite treatment and Frontline. What finally made it go away was antihistamines in combination with a change in the weather. However, a few quite warm days out, and he is itching himself raw again! I'm beginning to be convinced it's environmental...I need to get him back to the vet!
02-22-2006, 02:58 PM
My westie had terrible skin allergies which only got worse with age. His stemmed from an auto-immune disorder and there was eventually nothing we could do. In the meantime, I visited many different vets and dermatologists and learned a lot about allergies.
Like PP said, flea allergies tend to center in the tail area. What you are describing does not sound like a flea allergy. Your doggie may be allergic to fleas, but that's probably not what is causing this irritation.
First, I'd stop using steroid creams like cortizone on him. Over time, cortizone irritates the skin and causes further harm, so it's not good for a chronic condition. Oatmeal baths are very soothing. You can even make a soothing oatmeal rinse by filling some hosiery with oats and holding that around the bath faucet. The water passes through the oats to fill the tub and it makes a nice, non-shampoo soak. Applying damp oats directly to irritated skin can be soothing, too (using hosiery allows the soothing properties to pass through to your pet's skin without getting too messy).
The food you have him is a step in the right direction, but it still may not be eliminating the right thing. Your vet may have ZD, an expensive hypo-allergenic food. As an alternative, you might look into making your own dog food. Do a web search for hypoallergenic dog food for a recipe and check with your vet.
I eventually put Max on a raw food diet with various supplements (all bought from a human health food store). There was noticible improvement for a while.
Some good tips: http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/
* Some ways to soothe insect bites, hot spots, and other skin conditions:
** Dab with milk of magnesia to calm irritated skin.
** Aloe vera from plants and creams. Apply gel directly on the spot. Or dilute with water, put it in a spray bottle and spray it on the spot.
** Dab with organic apple cider vinegar.
** Saturate a cotton ball with witch hazel and apply on hot spots for several days.
** Apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the affected areas. This also helps soothe itchy human skin in case you, too, have a sting, rash or poison ivy.
** Epsom salt: mix 1 teaspoon in 2 cups of warm water for drawing out infection and bathing itchy paws and skin.
** Combine 3 capsules of sage, 1/4 teaspoon of Epsom salts and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature, then strain out the sage. Store in a spray bottle or jar in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Apply to the affected area several times a day.
** Emu oil is a natural, soothing substance that helps treat canine skin ailments such as ringworm, flea bites, bee stings, rashes, hot spots and lacerations. Apply on the affected area.
** Aveeno. Mix a package of Aveeno oatmeal bath powder with 2 cups of water, wet the dog down with cool water, then apply the Aveeno mix. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Then rinse off with cool water and towel dry.
** Petkin Reliefstick, which comes packaged like a stick deodorant. It contains natural ingredients to cool the skin as well as reduce redness and swelling and promote healing -- plus a safe licking deterrent.
** Petroleum jelly or Bag Balm - use either to seal in moisture. Also excellent for chaffed paw pads.
** Brewers yeast: one pill for every 10 pounds of the dog's weight; just add the pills into the dog's food.
** For immediate first aid for insect stings and bites, see the Insect Stings and Bites section.
* Sunburn or minor burn. If your pet gets a burn or sunburn, see your veterinarian. You can bathe the pet in an oatmeal-type bath or with Aveeno. Apply towel soaked with cold water soaks or an ice packs for 20 minutes. Wash gently with mild soap, clipping back hair if necessary. Blot dry, then apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin. You can protect the area by gently taping gauze dressing around it or wrapping in a dry towel.
* Mange. There are two main types: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange. Sarcoptic mange, caused by mites that burrow into the skin, is contagious and typically contracted after contact with an infected animal. Demodectic mange is a noncontagious skin disease caused by tiny mites, which are parasites that live in the hair follicles and skin glands of dogs. There is a hereditary predisposition to this disease and there is a connection between a dog's suppressed immune system and infection with mange. Small localized demodex shows up as bald patches and is usually easy to treat; generalized mange can affect much of the body and is difficult to treatment. See your vet, who will probably treat with a combination of special dips and oral medication. Some dog owners have successfully treated mild cases themselves through diet and natural home remedies to build up immunity. Home remedies include astralgalus and echinacea herbs, antioxidants including vitamins C and E, Reishi mushroom supplements (available at pet supply and health food stores; pets between 20 and 50 pounds take one half of the human dose), and homemade food (some use the BARF bones and raw foods diet, but there are other home diets).
* To prevent and to treat these and other skin conditions, it is important to build up the affected dog's immune system through healthful high-quality food and supplements such as flaxseed oil. Oatmeal baths help soothe the skin and relieve itching.
Immunity and Dietary Approaches for Healthy Skin:
A key principle to remember: healthy animals are far less vulnerable or attractive to disease and parasites. And, as with healthy humans, healthy animals recover from illness faster and in the case of contracting parasites, are not likely to get sick. It's a matter of immunity.
Also worth noting: stressful conditions weaken immunity in humans and animals. A harmonious home is a healthier one.
* Some daily immunity-boosters for dogs: a half teaspoon of nutritional brewer's yeast to provide the B complex vitamins a dog needs...one crushed clove of garlic (not a whole bulb; a clove is just one chamber) per every 30 pounds...a teaspoon each of safflower oil and powdered kelp or seaweed...supplements with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid.
Essential vitamins, nutrients and fatty acid supplements with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid help the skin retain moisture. They help reduce shedding, which in turn leads to this positive side effect: fatty acid supplements also help dogs and pet owners with allergies. These fatty acids come in supplement form. In addition, they are found in flaxseed oil and linseed oil, which support human health too.
* Other effective dietary supplements that improve skin: vitamin E (sample daily dose 400 to 800 ibu for a 50-pound dog), vitamin B complex (sample dose one 50 mg once a day for small dogs and twice daily for larger dogs), and nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt,.
* Filtered or bottled water: some people report that their pets' skin conditions improved when they stopped giving the pets tap water and switched to filtered or bottled water.
* Use high-quality foods. Poor skin health can result from feeding a lower quality food or food that contains something the dog may be allergic to. Switch to a high quality food found in health food stores or on the internet. Furthermore, you can find valuable information on the web about dog foods. To improve health and immune systems, many pet owners switch to homemade diets (including the BARF, or Bones and Raw Foods, diet, but there are others).
02-22-2006, 05:13 PM
Thank you!!!! All of this is very helpful! I think I will try an oat bath for him tonight...or maybe baking soda. (Baking soda helps me tremendously when I get a bee sting--I forgot about that!)
02-22-2006, 05:17 PM
Yes, but I think our dog is mostly allergic to things outside rather then food. It is frustrating and expensive though. It is also hard to know your dog is not comfortable. I hope you find a good solution though!
To help with our dog's dermatitis (dandruff) we sometimes give him a raw egg. I know that sounds gross and like it doesn't make sense, but one of our friends who grew up on a farm sugguested that. It actually does seem to work. However, you might want to ask your vet first in case your dog would be allergic to eggs or something!
02-22-2006, 05:23 PM
Oh, and we have at times given him Benadryl. (When his eyes get really itchy and red.) Our vet told us to give him that as needed and to hide the pill in a marshmello. Again, I'd ask the vet though about that to be absolutely sure!
That and we use a very special vet recommended shampoo.
Last year we had to give him all sorts of pills and ear drops and so on and it was awful. That did seem to cure it though. However, like others said, it will depend on whether or not your dog has a food allergy.
my parents' golden retriever has very serious skin allergies. the poor thing constantly wants to tear his skin off. they give him benadryl and he has wear one of those collar things around his neck to keep him from hurting himself. they have taken him to the vet a lot about it, and nothing seems to help the poor thing.
02-22-2006, 07:41 PM
Have you tried a homeopathic vet?
My cat had serious skin allergies for several years. I would bring her in for steroid shots, but the vet said it shouldn't be a long term solution. However, no matter what we tried, she was always itchy and uncomfortable. I took her to a homeopathic vet as a last resort on a friend's recommendation and he was able to give me some sulfer pellets that have made a tremendous difference. I cannot tell you how skeptical I was when I walked in the door. If you have tried everything else (or even sooner), it might be worthwhile to find a homeopathic vet. I am so grateful that my kitty is doing so well now and she is much happier.
02-23-2006, 12:28 PM
Well, I tried a soothing bath and a fresh application of Frontline Plus last night. He also has a brand-new bed with cedar in it. I'll keep you all posted on his progress!
05-17-2006, 10:36 AM
Just wanted to update--Runner's skin is continuing to flare up periodically. He is now getting thick, scabby, scaly patches buried under his fur. Additionally, he licks himself raw still, and his ears have also been acting up.
The thick scaly patches don't seem to bother him much, surprisingly. They are really gross, though. He went to the vet yesterday and was prescribed antibiotics plus some sort of skin pill (not an oil vitamin--an actual drug). Let's see what happens!
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