Start of my journey with dog skin allergy
Tracy, a healthy black Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy, was seven weeks old when I brought her home. At nine months, Tracy had a castration procedure and from then, things didn’t go so well. Three months after the surgery, she started having a few lumps on her head and itchy skin on the sides of her body. I thought that it might be a reaction due to reduced immunity.
Symptoms started to aggravate, and Tracy was constantly scratching and chewing on her skin. Her vet recommended bathing and performed Demodex tests, but the results turned out to be negative.
Symptoms kept getting worse, I then asked to be referred to a veterinary dermatologist. I knew how difficult allergies could be for dogs and their owners, and I wanted to get Tracy on the right treatment as soon as possible.
The dog dermatologist performed a general examination for Tracy and diagnosed her with a classic atopic. The vet prescribed antibiotics for the first 14 days to cure the inflamed, scratched bloody skin and Apoquel to control and reduce itching.
The vet started Tracy on an elimination diet for three months (Hill’s Z / D, then Trovet). Carpets were not allowed as well as sleeping in my bed.
Although the symptoms improved, Tracy was still scratching if she didn’t have the Apoquel. After four months, I couldn’t tolerate seeing her in so much pain and discomfort; I ran out of patience. I wanted to test which foods she may be allergic to as well as other environmental factors.
The results showed that Tracy is highly sensitive to dust and food mites, plantain weed and beef. Well, the irony was that during the elimination diet, I didn’t give her anything but plantain syrup and a buffalo horn as a toy for biting.
I got rid of everything that has beef and plantain and used Yoggies active granules with duck instead. Tracy was still scratching her skin, and there wasn’t much improvement. Later, the irritation got worse, I increased the Apoquel dosage and monitored Tracy regularly. I found out that natural water like rivers aggravated the allergy.
New dog dermatologist
Two months later, Tracy’s whole body was swelling, things were getting worse, and the vet was unreachable due to personal issues. Another vet was recommended to me, and he had a different approach. The vet put Tracy on steroids and the antibiotic Cephalexin for about three months. The dosage at first was high; then he reduced it gradually. I was following all the vet’s recommendation, and also used Malaseb, a special wound shampoo that is gentle on irritated skin.
One month later, the vet started reducing the steroids dose and replaced Apoquel with Cytopoint. Tracy had one injection in a month for three months, then one injection every three months. Finally, after so many trial and error, Tracy started to get a little better.
Change of a diet
Next step was switching Tracy’s diet to strictly rabbit meat. I also noticed that salmon oil was irritating, so I eliminated it as well. Since pure rabbit without salmon oil was quite challenging to find, I introduced pork meat. At first, everything seemed fine, but six months later, symptoms started to re-appear. This time the antibiotic Cytopoint that she was previously on wasn’t providing much improvement. The whole summer Tracy was on steroids, of course in combination with antibiotics. I was still trying to figure out the main allergen that was causing the irritation. But, since I already made changes to Tracy’s diet, this time it was slightly easier as there weren’t so many options.
I eliminated pork again from the diet and introduced goat meat instead (Yoggies new granules). Also, I stopped taking Tracy with me to work. I used to go to an office and my colleagues were always petting and playing with Tracy. That’s probably a no-win, especially for skin allergies. Instead, Tracy stayed at home during the day and got plenty of rest which really helped.
Tracy’s new diet was some Optima (rabbit) granules with pure canned goat meat that I purchase from a local farm. I also added some Megaderm oil to her food. Tracy’s treats were also goat based treats from Yoggies. Other than the improvement in her irritated skin, the strange smell that was persistent for a very long time has disappeared, and things came back to normal.
First step: Get a good dog dermatologist
If I wanted to offer a piece of advice to pet owners, I would suggest that they never assume that their dog is allergic to just one thing. If the dog has allergies, they are usually allergic to several different elements.
The first step is to find a good specialist dermatologist. Make a strict elimination diet and test for a long time. I believe that owners should be open to trying new medications and therapies and never give up. It’s essential to do everything they can to keep their dog as comfortable as possible.
In my opinion, I think that allergen tests were completely useless. I wasted about $300 on such tests which indicated that salmon was perfectly fine for Tracy. But, every time I gave it to her, the symptoms got worse. Also, I believe that the whole thing around dust mites at home was also useless.
Light at the end of the tunnel
However, you need to know that no two dogs are the same. The treatments that have worked for Tracy may not work for another dog exhibiting the same symptoms. And, there are varying degrees of allergies. Some dogs can easily be treated with a Benadryl or a medicated shampoo bath. Others, like Tracy, have much more severe cases that require more aggressive treatment.
After a while, I returned the carpets on the floors. Also, Tracy slept in bed again without any visible change. I just clean and wash more often. I highly recommend that you avoid any active and stressful kind of sports or activity for your dog. Plenty of rest at home is what your pet needs at this stage.
Although there is no magic solution or cure for dog allergies, there are ways to keep them under control. I am doing my best to keep Tracy comfortable, and her allergies are so far controlled without the need of any steroids. My advice to other pet owners is never to give up. Eventually, things will get better for both of you, but first, you will have to be willing to work for it.
If you want to get more information about dog allergies, read this article.