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Dog allergies? (While we're talking about dog food...)

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  • Dog allergies? (While we're talking about dog food...)

    The family cocker spaniel has been getting SUPER itchy recently, and so I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for figuring out what she might be reacting to. (She did this to a lesser extent last year, but it was very brief - a couple of weeks - and antihistamines cleared it up, so we figured it was the dog equivalent of hayfever. This year it's lasting longer, though, so it doesn't seem like it could be from just one plant type spreading pollen around.)

    Food-wise, they're on EVO chicken, and really don't get any grain-containing treats. (She's picky. Mostly they get small pieces of stuff like those dried chicken breast or duck breast strips, or other high quality jerky type products.) She does like those rawhide chew things that are made up of tiny pieces pressed into shapes/sticks.

    She doesn't have fleas (we've checked multiple times, as we did have a dog with a terrible flea allergy when I was a kid, so that was the first thing I thought of.) She's currently treated with Advantix, but last year she had Frontline. (When she had the previous allergy.)

    I live in Pittsburgh, so lord knows what kind of plant life there is around - however she had the same allergic problems when we spent over a week in Ohio on Lake Erie, and it seems like there might've been SOME change due to the slightly different growing environments.

    Is this like with people where the thing to do is start some kind of journal of what she's eating/doing and how her symptoms are? If so, it seems worth starting that now and then taking her to the vet, rather than paying for a vet visit just to be told to start writing things down. (I should add that she HAS been to the vet with this once already this summer, and gotten steroids and some antihistamines, so it's not like she hasn't been seen. It's just the timing of the NEXT visit. )

    I was wondering about switching to a different food - I know chicken is generally supposed to be pretty good for dogs, but you can get good foods with other protein sources now. (I know EVO makes a red meat version, but I don't know if that's chicken free, or just chicken and beef.)

    Her specific symptoms are general all over itchiness (no dry or flakey skin, no redness on the skin itself) and her eyes also tear a lot more than normal. Otherwise she's just her same old self - just the itching seems to make her miserable sometimes. (She does have much more patience for being groomed now, though. Guess the brush feels good.)

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

  • #2
    Well, you could try switching protein sources. Is she on the canned? I don't see a "chicken" dry. There are a lot of different proteins in the regular dry food...chicken, turkey, herring, plus tomatoes and apples and carrots...that's a lot of potential allergens. You could try going to the EVO venison wet. Or you could give California Natural a try. It has grain, but you narrow it down to lamb and rice--which are both low-allergen protein sources, generally. It's also made by Natura Pet: http://www.californianaturalpet.com/...fault.asp?id=3

    I had excellent luck with the Cal Nat when I had a dog with allergies. It's an excellent food!

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    • #3
      I have a German Shep mix that used to itch like crazy. She stopped completely when I switched her to Taste of the Wild prairie formula. (It's a Bison/ venison grain free food.)

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Simkie View Post
        Well, you could try switching protein sources. Is she on the canned? I don't see a "chicken" dry. There are a lot of different proteins in the regular dry food...chicken, turkey, herring, plus tomatoes and apples and carrots...that's a lot of potential allergens. You could try going to the EVO venison wet. Or you could give California Natural a try. It has grain, but you narrow it down to lamb and rice--which are both low-allergen protein sources, generally. It's also made by Natura Pet: http://www.californianaturalpet.com/...fault.asp?id=3

        I had excellent luck with the Cal Nat when I had a dog with allergies. It's an excellent food!
        Actually, she quite liked the California Natural Low Fat when I tried that - I just switched away from it because we free-feed and there wasn't enough fat in it for Pirate (he gets dry skin on anything too low in fat.) We've been thinking about splitting them up for feeding though, anyway, so we can keep an eye on how much she's getting (the steroid made her put on some extra weight we want to get off) so maybe it's worth just going back to that and seeing how she does.

        If it works we could free-feed that, plus give Pirate a 'meal' in the evening of a smaller amount of EVO or something with some salmon oil mixed in so he gets the extra he needs.

        (Free-feeding works pretty well for us in general, particularly because no one in the family has a really set schedule since my parents both work and I'm in college and have classes at all sorts of times. So sometimes it's quite late before anyone gets home. I'd like to stick to a kibble for that reason, if it's possible.)

        Comment


        • #5
          My little Papillion had horrible itching.. I did take him to the vet because it wasn't seasonal it was pretty constant and he only went outside to pee (he was quite the little prince) They drew blood and sent it off and he was allergic to mold, grass (imagine that ) pollen, grains and several other things. Switched him to a grain free diet and he had about a year of allergy injections that I gave him at home. He was much better after that no more itchy problems. You might have the vet to pull blood in case it is environmental. (Vet said some dogs are allergic to cats even )
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          • #6
            Try a low allergen formula or a limited ingredient diet. If your dog has issues with a formula with only a few main ingredients it's a lot easier to narrow down what does and doesn't work for her. My dog who will throw up any chicken/rice combo, even just boiled rice and chicken, does well on a venison and potato food from Natural Balance.
            Wow. We're just blowing through nap time, aren't we?

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            • #7
              My itchy dog with some skin issues is doing wonderfully on Taste of the Wild High Prairie formula. It's grain free and has a novel protein source (bison and venison) plus she seems to really like the way it tastes.
              It could very well be environmental though. My JRT seems to have a contact allergy with something in my area this time of year. Her paws get itchy for about a month every year but clear up on allergy meds and are fine until the same time next year.

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              • #8
                Seasonal allergies are not usually diet related, but more plant related. They can start out mild and worsen a little bit each year. Antihistamines would be your first thing to try and with the least side effects. If they are not controlling it, you can see your vet for the next steps. There are prescription antihistamines, and sometimes prednisone is all that may be needed for short term allergies. Skin testing or blood testing and hyposensitization (allergy shots) are standard with more severe cases or when symptoms become prolonged. Bathing can also help with removing some of the allergens on the coat, and medicated shampoos can soothe the skin and decrease itching also.
                "I have been Foolish and Deluded," said he, "and I am a Bear of No Brain at All." - Winnie the Pooh

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                • #9
                  I did the allergy testing on my dog (JRT) and he turned out to be allergic to rice, corn, animal dander , most grasses and a few other seasonal things around here. He had the itchy skin and tended to have a touchy stomach.

                  I had to put him on a prescription diet and he is much better. Royal Canin Duck and Potato It it really hard to find any dog food without rice in it. Does that High Prairie stuff have rice?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by imapepper View Post
                    I did the allergy testing on my dog (JRT) and he turned out to be allergic to rice, corn, animal dander , most grasses and a few other seasonal things around here. He had the itchy skin and tended to have a touchy stomach.

                    I had to put him on a prescription diet and he is much better. Royal Canin Duck and Potato It it really hard to find any dog food without rice in it. Does that High Prairie stuff have rice?
                    No rice in TOTW High Prairie. It's completely grain free.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My vet learned this trick from a South American vet friend of his.

                      Put the dog on a diet of only sweet potatoes and pinto beans.

                      The allergies should clear up. If they don't, well then they are not food allergies.

                      After a few weeks, start trying one protein source at a time-- chicken, salmon, beef, venison. See if any make her react. In his experience, he has found that MANY dogs are actually allergic to the protein source. Poultry in particular.

                      I did this with my dog... she had raging allergies. She is now on a salmon based diet, as opposed to a chicken based diet, and she has not had allergy problems in several years.

                      The only caveat is that the dog WILL lose some weight on the sweet potatoes and pinto beans. But it will definitely help you sort the allergies out.
                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have an Australian Shepard that has had horrible ears pretty much his entire life. Even game himself a hematoma with the head shaking and scratching.. had to have surgery to put drain in and everything. I started working for a vet clinic, brought my dogs in for the yearly shots, etc. Vet notices red/yeasty ears and mentions food allergies and was amazed that no vet had suggested it before. Anyway put him on a veggie dog food (Nature's Variety) and we haven't had a single problem with his ears since.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by imapepper View Post
                          I had to put him on a prescription diet and he is much better. Royal Canin Duck and Potato It it really hard to find any dog food without rice in it. Does that High Prairie stuff have rice?
                          Cal Nat makes a rice-free variety. Herring and sweet potato.

                          http://www.californianaturalpet.com/...lt.asp?id=1326

                          Or any of the multitude of grain-free, but you might have a problem with several protein sources.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The most common dog allergies, per our allergist (ask me how I know about allergies, sigh) are: corn, beef, chicken/turkey, wheat, soy, dairy

                            You could try eliminating all of those first. It takes a few weeks to clear up sometimes.

                            To be more specific, we got a blood allergy test. It was $200 but worth EVERY penny. The vet did it and the company was Spectrum Labs SPOT allergy report. It turns out, the dear girl is allergic to everything under the sun.

                            The blood allergy test has been a life saver!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Just had my beagle-mix at the vet today and asked about the itching as well. He said it was seasonal allergies. Also said I could give Benadryl (although it may cause drowsiness) or Claritan (one tab in the morning). I haven't decided if I am going to try the meds yet though.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by szistler View Post
                                Just had my beagle-mix at the vet today and asked about the itching as well. He said it was seasonal allergies. Also said I could give Benadryl (although it may cause drowsiness) or Claritan (one tab in the morning). I haven't decided if I am going to try the meds yet though.
                                Benadryl doesn't seem to make Foxy (the cocker spaniel with the allergies) drowsy at all - just helps with the itching. It really does make a difference for her, so I think it just depends how much the itching is bothering your pup - Foxy is normally out investigating everything she can, so when she just wants to sit and scratch instead of going outside, we know it's time to start it up again.

                                Given what people have said here about it being more likely seasonal, I think I'll wait for now to switch food since we still have a big bag of the EVO anyway. If she doesn't clear up when the weather changes or gets much worse, we'll ask our vet about taking it further to see if allergy shots or the like would help her.

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