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Old 03-19-2010, 08:17 PM
Location: Fort Mill
103 posts, read 216,484 times
Reputation: 70


Hello all. I have a very sweet 12-year-old chow-lab mix who is suffering from such horrible problems with her skin that she spends 24/7 scratching and digging at herself and generally driving herself mad. She's even gotten to the point where she's chewing off her fur in spots. It's heart breaking.

I think what I'm looking for is a really really really great veterinarian who might (hope of all hopes) specialize in canine dermatology.

My dog has had skin issues for years. We drove all the way from Fort Mill to Columbia to a canine dermatologist for evaluation. She's supposedly allergic to fleas (altho' I've never seen one on her) and gets basically a thick, oily, stinky residue on her skin just days after a professional bath. The dermatologist suggested we use Frontline on her every 3 weeks (more frequently than usual, I guess), along with antiseptic shampoos and conditioners, and weekly bathing. I cannot afford to have her bathed every week and cannot physically do it myself--we probably do it every 3 weeks. She ends up smelling like something died just days after the bath, even tho' she's mostly indoors. Nothing is working.

I can't give her enough Benadryl to really help the problem because it makes her very woozy. She's old enough that she is having some difficulties getting around--I don't want to exacerbate her problem with Benadryl. Besides, it doesn't really help.

I can't give her steroids because this increases her water intake, which in turn, increases urination. She has a bladder control issue, which we keep in check with a medication called Proin. But on steroids, she just pees wherever and whenever without knowing it, and she pants and pants mercilessly.

I'm at my wits end because she's going crazy with the itching and scratching and digging. What can I do to help my puppy and keep her more comfortable?
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:28 PM
595 posts, read 1,400,942 times
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What food are you feeding her?

Have you had an allergy test done yet?
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:37 PM
3,115 posts, read 6,128,507 times
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There's a newer doggie allergy medication called atopica that might work for you. Both of our dogs have seasonal allergies and have to be on steroids basically for 4 months out of the year, and we have considered atopica instead. Another thing that can help is a diet high in Omega 3s. We switched our pups to Blue Buffalo fish and sweet potato. It does not contain any wheat or corn. They also get an Omega 3 capsule every day. It seems to help a lot!

We go to Piper Glen Animal Hospital and see Dr. Brown. She is not an animal dermatologist, but she has told us several times that she sees and treats many pets with allergies. I think it's just part of living in Charlotte for people and animals!
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:21 PM
38 posts, read 81,248 times
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The Carolina Veterinary Specialty facility lists dermatology at the Huntersville location:

Carolina Veterinary Specialists - Specialty Services

Your family vet should be able to give you more information and make a referral. The college of veterinary medicine at NC State would also be an option:
Dermatology :: North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine (http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/vth/clinical_services/derma/ - broken link)

I have a breed that suffers flea allergies. You may not see fleas; it only takes one flea bite to send the dog into a frenzy. Also, given your dog's senior age, you could be dealing with an auto-immune disorder. You don't want to bathe too frequently. I've had success with an oatmeal shampoo, which sadly has been discontinued. Running a humidifier where my dog sleeps can bring some relief as well.

Have you changed foods recently? Food allergies can cause itching. I agree to avoid steroids as much as possible. Too many side effects.

Keep up the flea treatments as recommended. Know that fleas are starting to become resistant to some of the topicals. Allergy pills drugged my dog, but this was several years ago. I'm sure there are better options. If your vet can't help your dog get the relief she needs, you can be referred.

Note: I'm just trying to provide information about resources that could be available to the poster--not make a referral or recommendation.
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Old 03-20-2010, 05:42 AM
1,350 posts, read 3,302,435 times
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I have a lab with the same problem. Finally after many years, a kennel that I never took her to before, suggested changing her food because of her allergies. Why didn't my vet suggest this I will never know. The food is very expensive but it is definitely worth it. You can buy it at PETCO and some upscale pet food stores. It's called Natural Balance. I use the limited ingredients since my dog seems to have a lot of allergies. I buy the venison with sweet potato. I was told venison and sweet potato would be good since they are not typically in any other dog food and that allergies to these ingredients are not typical. She is almost 100% better. She still has allergies to grass but there isn't anything I can do about that. Good luck!
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance® Pet Foods :1
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:17 AM
Location: Fort Mill
103 posts, read 216,484 times
Reputation: 70
Wow! Thanks for all the great advice and resources, everybody!

Yes, in the past, we have tried changing out her food, but with little success. I never noticed any improvement. Then again, we weren't able to stick with the change very long because she tends to get horrid gas and/or the runs or constipation--either or. All of this makes my poor pooch sound like a disgusting hound, but she's really a very good and sweet dog. Poor thing.

Maybe I will revisit the food thing again. I will also check out the vet recommendations listed above. I do currently squirt an omega-3 supplement onto her food. It doesn't seem to help with the immediate problem, but I'm sure it's good for her overall anyway.

Yes, I had heard that it takes only one flea bite to affect a dog that is allergic to fleas. Maybe we need to change the brand of flea medication she takes.

Thanks again. I will get right to work on these recommendations. My dog thanks you!
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:47 AM
Location: Mauldin
412 posts, read 811,442 times
Reputation: 262
Ask your vet about giving Chlor-Trimeton. It is also used in pets, and is a cheap alternative to Benadryl. (I used to be a Vet Tech).
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:48 AM
1,013 posts, read 2,647,797 times
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Yes, try changing food again. From what I have been told, seeing a change from switching food, takes a while(two months).

Others have posted great info., I don't need to add. But, I will tell you our story.

I got a Golden Retriever as a puppy in 2004. In 2007, he started itching. Never to the point of how your dog is itching and scratching though. The vet put my dog on a minimal ingredient dog food. Which was by prescription only. I will never understand why it's by prescription only. Maybe to charge the ridicules prices for it. Anyway, it seemed to have work a little bit. Eventually, we started using store bought food which had minimal ingredients. Which was cheaper and worked as good as the prescription food.

In 2008, he started itching again. This time I asked for the two allergy test. One is for airborne and the other for food allergies. The vet said and I had heard this elsewhere, that those tests have spotty performances. Meaning, it may come back as your dog is allergic to diary and he really is not and vice versa.

So, his test results came back that he was allergic to diary products and a particular type of tree. I forget the name of the tree, but we had none where we lived at the time. So, we laid off giving him anything that contained diary products. That seemed to have worked too, but did not completely eliminate the itching. But, it was down to the occasional scratching.

About four months ago, he started up again and this time his feet are itching too.

My next visit to the vet, I will ask about Atopica. Maybe that will help my guy.
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:58 AM
3,115 posts, read 6,128,507 times
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Originally Posted by lanigan911 View Post
Ask your vet about giving Chlor-Trimeton. It is also used in pets, and is a cheap alternative to Benadryl. (I used to be a Vet Tech).
Yes, my vet suggested this to us last summer!
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Old 03-20-2010, 11:33 AM
Location: Charlotte, NC
198 posts, read 565,077 times
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From what I've heard, most dog allergies are from foods. For example, a large percentage of dogs are allergic to grains, particularly corn. You can buy good-quality grain-free foods for your dog at any pet supply store. I second ssd3's recommendation of Natural Balance -- it's what I feed my dog.

You mention your dog has had diarrhea and gas when you've tried switching foods. Be advised that when switching your dog's food, it has to be done gradually over a 2-week time period for best results. Start with feeding 75% old dog food with 25% new dog food. After 4-5 days, increase it to 50% old and 50% new. After another 4-5 days, increase it again to 25% old and 75% new. You get the idea. This will allow your dog's system to gradually become accustomed to the new food. Switching "cold turkey" is a sure way to have an upset tummy!

If your dog has an allergy from grass, you can try spreading mulch in the part of the yard where your dog does her business. Also, wipe her feet well (with wet rag) every time she comes back inside.

Best of luck!
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