Allergy issues-asking for a friend

Postby pitsnok » January 6th, 2012, 2:01 am

I went through the health section, and did a search but there are SO MANY posts on allergy issues that I didn't think I'd be able to find anything relating to this, so forgive me if I just managed to miss them, and links to previous posts you guys know of are always helpful.

My friend, Rachel adopted Penny Lane, a pit bull mix a few months back. She is absolutely wonderful and a complete softie, but has terrible allergies. Rachel's boyfriend gets home from Afghanistan in about a month and a half, but was recently home on leave. He loves Penny, but is frustrated because he "didn't want a high-maintenance dog"... (beside the point, I have said over and over, she isn't high maintenance at all, because literally her ONLY problem/issue behavior and health wise is that she has allergies).
And I don't mean just like, itchy at some points allergies... they're REALLY bad. Rachel said she is constantly itching and it is normal for Penny to get the REALLY RED hivey looking irritation on her belly and under her legs.
They switched to our veterinarian who I love, and trust 100%--he has never steered us wrong with any of our three, and has always been able to find a solution for any issues we've had--always starting with the least-expensive options because he knows we aren't just rolling in the dough. He is very pit bull friendly, and goes on and on about our dogs and how great they are... I wouldn't go to any other vet in the area unless referred to a specialist or something by ours. With that being said, It seems like they have tried EVERYTHING imaginable to treat Penny's allergies. For the first few months Rachel kept her on the same food she ate at her foster home- I think it was diamond naturals. By my advice based on Harlow's allergies, she has since switched to TOTW pacific stream, but Penny's allergies haven't gotten better. Benadryl doesn't help, and they have gotten to the point where she has to give her two zyrtec daily to get a small amount of relief. They do medicated baths, and she DID have a skin infection initially, but since has tested negative for it or any kind of parasites. Rachel told me she was going to try claritin next, to see if it helps with just one-a-day, since technically two zyrtec daily is over the recommended dose. (the vet did okay this with her, though.)
I think the ONLY thing that has ever helped enough to make a difference has been prednisone, but obviously it's not ideal to make that a permanent thing, so Rachel is really hoping for some kind of answer. The only thing I know of that they haven't tried is to do the cortizone injections monthly, or whatever it is... but I have never really heard of anyone getting great results from that, which is why I assume the vet hasn't tried it.

Rachel is always coming to me for advice, and up until now I have always had something to recommend, but I sort of feel like they've tried anything I know to advise... So I was hoping I could get some ideas here, where I know so many people are managing dogs with severe-allergies. She says her boyfriend would never want to give Penny up or anything, but still she wants to find some kind of solution because Penny is sort of "her" dog in the sense that she was adopted while her boyfriend was out of the country, and she wants her to be just as part of their family as their other dog, who is a bombproof, picture of perfect health and everything.

so, any advice for me...for Rachel? :|
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


"It is true that Pit Bulls grab and hold on. But what they most often grab and refuse to let go of is your heart, not your arm."
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 6th, 2012, 9:20 am

I'm in the same boat with Odd...the benadryl doesn't help him...claritin doesn't help him...food change didn't help him...he's off to the vet today for other issues, plus the allergy ones.

No help...but I feel her pain!
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 6th, 2012, 9:39 am

What kind of cleaning products does she use? Most allergies are environmental, not food, and I would think with it being winter I doubt there are a lot of grass/outside allergies affecting her. Maybe she needs to use only vinegar and water for cleaning, and switch to a different laundry detergent.

Though I just said that most allergies are environmental, it certainly couldn't hurt to try a raw diet. I fed TOTW and I can promise that feeding Inara raw is much cheaper than TOTW.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 6th, 2012, 9:54 am

John's been wondering if the Murphy's Oil Soap that I use on the floors is causing odd's problems...we're also wondering about dust...since the furnace filters need to be changed, and the house is REALLY dusty. That's what I'm working on this weekend.
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Postby amalie79 » January 6th, 2012, 1:16 pm

I live a couple of hours away from Brittany, and I can attest that winter allergies have been horrible-- the environmental kind. It's going to be in the 60s/70s today, so allergies that don't normally cause a problem are horrible right now. I can barely breathe, and I'm noticing a lot more corn-cobbing on my girls. So it could be airborne stuff, or even dust mites in the house. My vat told me a year or two ago that dust and mites are a huge problem with allergy dogs, especially in the winter.

Just a thought-- when they did the food allergy trial, did they make sure she didn't get ANYTHING else-- no scraps, treats, etc. Nothing? And for more than a month or so? (it can take a while for the allergens to leave the system)

Might also be worth trying one of the Natural Balance, California Naturals or Nature's Variety limited ingredient diets-- like Bison/Sweet Potato, or CalNat has a kangaroo flavor-- something novel she'd never have had anywhere else. The nice thing about Natural Balance is that they have a line of limited treats to go with the main flavors, and it's easy to get since PetCo sells it.

Or try raw.

The cleaning products idea is a good one-- we've started using Method detergents and stopped using dryer sheets.

Poor thing.
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Postby pitsnok » January 6th, 2012, 2:22 pm

We thought that once "winter" came around she would improve, but she hasn't gotten much better, (some, but not much)... But then again it has been in the mid 60's for the past week or so, and we haven't really had any actual cold weather so maybe all of the allergens are still hanging around. I know Harlow's have been pretty bad, and she even has that rusty yeast tinge to her body that usually only happens in the warmer months.

I will mention all of this stuff to her... I don't think raw will be their first choice...(it's the whole "high maintenance thing"...their first dog ate dog chow until Penny came along if that tells you anything, haha. ) but if nothing else helps her improve then I will push really hard for it. Rachel is a teacher and has to leave the house by like 530 every morning and her schedule can be kind of chaotic, so can her boyfriend's since he is in the Army. So I don't know how easy it would be for them to do that, but it's worth mentioning to her. She did tell me the other day that she was going to get some fish oil to see if that helped with Penny's itchiness.
Her boyfriend can be pretty hard-headed about things, which is what makes me most concerned... for example when he was home on leave he said the dogs were absolutely starving because "Magnus will stop eating when he's full" and insisted they eat like, 4 cups per meal!!! FOUR!!!! Thankfully that was ended quickly after I stepped in, and Rachel cited the bag of dog food. I had to explain that now that Magnus isn't the only dog, he probably feels like he needs to eat ALL his food, regardless of how much he has... Lets just say her boyfriend is kind of the "old fashioned" type of dog owner, I guess... and I think his military background kind of makes him expect a more rigid environment or something. (This is making him sound like a total ass, which he is not at all...just to clarify. He is just on a totally different page when it comes to dog stuff...and is not the easiest to convince that he should do things differently, you know the type!)

And they didn't really do a food "trial" just switched to TOTW per my recommendation because it really helped us with Harlow's allergies. I thought it would be worth a try to go grain free, and try a salmon formula since it tends to cause less irritation than other meats. I think she was on a lamb and rice formula previously, but it has been a few months since they switched so if it were the food I'm sure there would have been some kind of improvement by now... I'm not sure about treats or anything, though. I asked about her a while back and I can't remember if she said their treats were grain free, or the "allergy-friendly" kind. I will have to talk to her about that, too... I know they don't get table scraps, so at least the things she consumes can be zeroed in on pretty easily.

I have told Rachel that it's just a matter of finding out what works, and it's different for everybody so all I can do is share what we have found to be helpful... and once they figure that out she will be the lowest maintenance dog on the planet! (KNOCK ON WOOD!!)
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 6th, 2012, 2:27 pm

I was wondering if maybe coconut oil, taken both internally and maybe some rubbed on the coat, would help with the itchiness, but I'd be hesitant to add much to her diet. If anything, they need to be eliminating every chemical or food from her diet to see what's causing it. Poor pupper.
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Postby pitsnok » January 6th, 2012, 2:36 pm

Thanks everybody for the help. Keep it coming if you have anything to add. I feel like it's my duty to solve the problem, haha. I may just print out any advice that is given and pass it on to her. (I have said a thousand times to join here but I don't think there is time in her day for 'internetting', haha.)
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


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Postby amalie79 » January 6th, 2012, 2:48 pm

Environmental allergies can be really tough; but contrary to what we've always thought, relatively frequent baths with a soap that preserves the dermatological barrier is advised by more holistic vets.

Salmon oil is a good idea (but remember it depletes vitamin E, so I also supplement with a little 400mg VitE capsule from Walmart. Cheap), as is coconut oil, but Liz is right-- at the beginning, it needs to be as basic as possible, then adding things one at a time once she's reaction-free. I hear a lot of good things about the NatBalance and CalNat limited ingredient foods. It's important to keep any "extras" the dog gets within the parameters of the rest of the diet.

And don't forget fleas-- all it takes to set Luna off is one little eensy weensy flea bite. And as hot as it's been, it's not unheard of for fleas to stick around. With Luna, we have to give her the oral tablets because her little shar pei fur doesn't produce enough oil to hold the topical on her skin. You might read some of the shar pei forums-- I thought pits had bad allergies... holy cow. Shar peis are the most cursed dogs I have ever seen (as a breed), and Luna, even as a mix, is certainly bearing all this out. :\

If I think of more, I'll post it.
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Postby amalie79 » January 6th, 2012, 2:49 pm

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 6th, 2012, 2:57 pm

I didn't think about fleas. My friend had to take her dog to the vet 'cause she was chewing herself raw. She'd been bathed, the house was spotless, there were no freakin' fleas. The vet said it looked like one flea had jumped on for a bite and left and she was still suffering from the after-effects.
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

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Postby amalie79 » January 6th, 2012, 3:04 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:I didn't think about fleas. My friend had to take her dog to the vet 'cause she was chewing herself raw. She'd been bathed, the house was spotless, there were no freakin' fleas. The vet said it looked like one flea had jumped on for a bite and left and she was still suffering from the after-effects.


Yep. All it takes is one. And for Luna, the result is pretty much always a nasty staph infection. :(
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Postby FAB dogs » January 6th, 2012, 7:21 pm

I was wondering about treats too. Also, how about any laundry detergent used on bedding?
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Postby Malli » January 7th, 2012, 3:09 am

Oscar recently (in the last 4 years?) developed a severe flea allergy - hives for days. The only thing we could come up with was one flea I found *once*, thats it! And the house didn't have fleas - otherwise the reaction would have continued once the steroids were weaned off ;)
for anyone who doesn't know, Oscar has had allergies for the last 9.5 yrs. I have yet to find anything I have tried, short of management tecniques, that seems to have any impact on his reactions.
I am able to keep things under control with :
-medicated baths(new Hydrocortizone 1% shampoo just came out, also has acetic properties and antifungal properties) or baths with a tar sulphur shampoo
-vacuuming as much as possible, particularly in carpeted areas where the dogs have beds
-Topagen steroidal/antibiotic spray for localized reactions
-bedding that can be washed on average AT LEAST once weekly with a very small amount of unscented liquid laundry detergent in warm or hot water and sometimes with an extra rinse
-frequent checks of feet and skin (you can pull up the skin into a outward fold and sometimes better see through the hair) in problem areas
-Benedryl daily

I also use a malacetic skin and ear cleanser, he gets dirty ears quick and it seems to be the least drying and most effective

Dermapet has a great line of products for dogs - both the hydrocortizone shampoo and the ear cleaner I use are from them

Uzi, my new puppy, has some allergic stuff that is so far specific to his feet - I think I have seen improvement with a grain free diet, but I wasn't happy with the protein content, so switched to a lower grains diet, which doesn't seem *as* effective, but there isn't much foot chewing/licking going on, so I'm ok with that for now.

It may be worthwhile to consider Prednisone for a couple of weeks so her skin and immune system can just chill out for a bit :|

Thats my help, for what its worth...
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Postby donnynannette » January 8th, 2012, 2:56 pm

When diesel was a puppy he kept getting hives all over his body. The vets couldnt figure it out They just said try switching his food. I tried every brand of great food out there lol. We went through so many different kinds it was not even funny. Then when we were out of options of the good food i tried pedigree. I was not happy about feeding him pedigree but i figured id try it because it was on sale and what did i have to lose. Guess what he has not had hives since. LOL. I have not gone back since. Hes healthy and very active and before i learned about how imporant diet was i fed scrappy my jack russel mix kibbles and bits for most of his life. And he will be 11 in february. So it could be diet but it can be very frustrating trying to find a food that works, I was going to the pets store so much they thought they began to know who i was.
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