I have a 2 year old Australian Shepard/Retriever rescue that I got when she was 11 weeks old. When she was just about a year old she started to develop a bald spot on her side towards her back leg. She developed a scab that took months to go away. Her stomach issues started shortly after that and have continued for the past year. Her bald spot has spread and at time she has developed more scabs that take weeks to heal. I have taken her to the vet and had a Thyroid test done (negative), skin scraping (bacterial infection that resulted in 8 weeks of antibiotic), blood tests, parasite tests (stool samples). I have given her Pepcid AC daily per the vets instructions. I used coconut oil, salmon oil, antibacterial shampoos. She is on Natural Balance Duck and Potato dry food now and I give her half a can of various foods at night. The vet doesn’t seem to have an answer other than more testing. It’s breaking my heart to see her happy one day and then sick and depressed the next. I keep thinking it is some type of immune deficiency and she’s on the wrong food. I am leaning towards trying a vegetarian diet but I’m not sure if that will help. When her stomach is really off and I give her boiled chicken and rice it seems to help which makes me think it isn’t a problem with the meat. Has anyone else had issues like this with there dog and if so, what was the problem?
Do you have a veterinary school near you? I would consult an Internal Emergency Medicine Specialist.
It does not sound like the regular vets have been very helpful, and if you have been going back and forth for over a year without positive results…….
Do you have a diagnosis?
That is the first thing I would want. People complain about the cost, but at least with a specialist or an emergency clinic, they do the testing and usually you are in and out of there in an hour or two with a diagnosis and treatment plan in place.
Her symptoms may have absolutely nothing to do with her diet.
PS: I might consider allergy testing by a board certified dermatologist, I’m not talking about mail-in saliva and hair tests.
By Klaus Loft, DVM
Angell Dermatology Service
Anyone who suffers debilitating environmental allergies tied to changing seasons, pet dander or household dust mites knows first-hand the misery of a scratchy throat, itchy eyes or painful rashes.
Not everyone knows, however, that our pets can experience similar allergic reactions — and other very bothersome dermatological issues. But our pets need not suffer in silence. Modern veterinary science has evolved such that advanced, comprehensive treatments are now available to treat a range of skin conditions.
Top pet dermatological issues
Our four-legged friends suffer from some of the same skin issues as we do — and several that we do not. The most common conditions we see at Angell include:
•Parasites, such as mites, fleas and mange (scabies)
•Infectious diseases, such as Staphylococcal pyoderma (“Staph”) skin infections, yeast and fungal infections and skin fold infections
•Systemic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases
•Skin cancer, such as Squamous cell carcinoma, cutaneous lymphoma, Mast cell tumors
•Allergies, such as flea allergy dermatitis, adverse food reactions, environmental allergies, etc.
All of these conditions can become serious and, if untreated, dramatically reduce quality of life. But the tremendous strides made in veterinary innovation, however, is very good news for our pets. Specifically, the testing and treatments for allergies now rivals human healthcare in its sophistication, quality of care and long-term health outcomes.
Unlike humans, dogs and cats cannot tell us about their dermatological health issues. So we as pet owners must look for the signs. The most common indicators that a pet is suffering from some kind of allergy involve frequent episodes of ear infections, red raised or open sores on the skin, constant licking or biting of paws or groin — sometimes causing wounds that will not go away.
Allergies present a particular challenge because there can be hundreds (even thousands) of potential allergens that impact pet health, from foods to pollen from grasses, weeds, trees, dust mites and more. Today’s specialty veterinary hospitals have access to the very latest diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of what’s ailing our pet. Among these tests is the Intra Dermal Test (IDT).
IDT is generally considered the gold standard of testing for identifying allergens that cause pets to suffer from chronic skin and/or ear diseases. IDT involves injections of a series of concentrated allergens into the skin to determine which of them generate allergic reactions in a given animal. The use of fluorescein — a chemical that illuminates the inflammation caused by the injected allergens in order to visualize the strength of individual reactions — is key to accurately diagnosing pet allergies, and is just one of the many ways veterinarians use new technologies to improve care and diagnostics.
The results of IDT (as well as a review of the pet’s medical history) can then inform comprehensive immunotherapy treatments to relieve suffering. Veterinary dermatologists rely on IDT to build customized treatment plans for patients called Allergen Specific Immuno Therapy or “ASIT” for short.
ASIT involves a series of injections specifically created for the allergic animal’s skin. These injections, of diluted allergens, are designed to make a pet less sensitive to their allergens over time. In most cases these injections must be continued for life to reduce symptoms, but they are highly effective. Seventy to 90 percent of pets experience a reduction in symptoms as a result of ASIT treatment. These treatments can be delivered even more easily via droplets under the tongue, perfect for pet owners who are squeamish about giving injections to their pet.
This treatment is very new to the North American field of medicine (both human and veterinary) and underscores just how far innovation in veterinary medicine has come.
When it’s time to see the vet
Many pet owners are understandably concerned about taking their animals to the veterinarian because the cost (to say nothing of the fear some animals experience when going do the doctor) may outweigh any perceived reduction in suffering. To help pet owners know when it’s time to bring Fido to the doctor I’ve compiled my “Top Ten” list of dermatological symptoms that should never be ignored:
•Intense itching of the skin (head shaking, running the face into the carpet, furniture, etc.)
•Biting at the skin that creates red, raw crusting areas of the skin
•Multiple ear infections (head shaking, odor from ears, scratching at the ears with hind legs)
•Paw licking or chewing and frequent infections of the skin in the webbed skin of the paws
•Staining of the fur of the paws and nails on multiple feet
•Reoccurring skin infections in the groin, under the shoulders, perianal areas (on or under the tail)
•Greasy scaling skin and/or fur with odorous skin
•Hair loss, or thinning of the fur
•Dark pigmentation of the skin that is chronically infected
•Sudden depigmentation of skin
Allergies and other dermatological issues can be as frustrating for pet owners and their veterinarians as they can be for pets. I encourage any pet owner whose animal is experiencing any of these symptoms to consult with their veterinarian.
Here is the deal, the vets cannot treat a condition until they diagnose it, in order to diagnose sometimes extensive testing is required.
Until then all they can offer is band aid treatments, they treat the symptoms and hope for the best.
That is why I suggested a specialist, unless you are happy with what your current vet recommends, in example, go along with the additional testing. Or, maybe get another opinion?Christina BMember
I’ve been to two different vets and also a vet dermatologist. The next step would be a skin biopsy to determine if there is some type of hereditary disease involved. My frustration at this point is are the stomach issues and skin issues related in any way or are they two completely different problems. She does not really scratch at herself, has never had ear issues, she used to lick at her side where the scabs were but after taking the antibiotic which I guess was taking care of the bacterial skin infection, she doesn’t do that anymore. I have not received a diagnosis yet. They are not sure why she keeps losing her fur or why her stomach keeps acting up. I’ve starting give her a probiotic and am going to switch shampoos to something to treat subhorreic dermatitis. (Both through my own research, which to vet said would be good. Just wondering why they didn’t suggest it themselves in the first place.) Maybe it’s time to switch vets again. I just want someone to care about what’s causing it as much as I do.
Sounds like an Internal Medicine Specialist might be your best bet.
I understand your frustration, my dog with environmental allergies is stable now x 4 years. But, I went to 3-4 vets in a 1 year period before I found a specialist that did the allergy skin testing, diagnosed, and prescribed a treatment that works.
The first step is to get a diagnosis, then evaluate your treatment options (imo)
PS: The initial testing is the worst of it ($)
But, we now only see the specialist once a year.
Other than routine care (annual heartworm test) we have not had to go to the regular vet.
Also, I would hesitate to give this dog any vaccines if she is not medically stable.
Because, it is controversial as to whether or not probiotics and such do that much, if anything.
And sometimes supplements can cause harm. Example:
In response to: “I’ve starting give her a probiotic and am going to switch shampoos to something to treat subhorreic dermatitis. (Both through my own research, which to vet said would be good. Just wondering why they didn’t suggest it themselves in the first place.) Maybe it’s time to switch vets again”.
PS: Some of those shampoos can be very drying and irritating to the skin. My dog with allergies gets bathed once or twice a week with Malaseb in conjunction with other treatments.SusanMember
Hi sounds like food sensitivities/intolerances & environment allergies, have you looked at doing the Jean Dobbs salvia testing to get an idea what foods she may be sensitive too, I know people say these test are not 100% but it will give you an idea what foods she may be sensitive too there’s also salvia & hair testing that test for food, mites & tree/plants….. she may be sensitive to dust mites??? also my boy can not have a kibble that’s high fat, high fiber/carb diet, no fish or salmon oils they all cause acid reflux stomach problems…
Can you start to cook for her or even if you feed a cooked meal that’s been pre cooked sectioned then frozen & you take out the night before & put in fridge for next day & feed a kibble for breakfast & cooked for dinner, also change the kibble, stop feeding kibbles with potatoes & specially when potatoes are first ingredient like the Natural Balance is, its too much starchy carbs…..a good kibble should have 2-4 proteins as 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th ingredients then a carb…..
Some grain free kibbles can be very high in starchy carbs…. I have found Patch does best on a kibble that’s lamb chicken fish & Brown rice or a Fish Kibble with sweet potatoes but the fat has to be 10-14% fat or he gets his acid reflux & it must not have fish oil or Salmon oil or he starts grinding his teeth with real bad acid reflux.
He eats Earthborn Ocean Fusion, Taste Of The Wild Sierra Mountain Roasted Lamb, Canidae Life Stages, all life stages formula, Canidae Grain free look at the Pure land, Pure Sky & Pure Wild they all have no potatoes & Carbs are 40% & under
Have a look at the Honest Kitchen aswell
look at “Brave” & “Zeal” carbs are 35% or the base mixes you just add the protein….
Baths are you doing weekly baths? I use the “Malaseb” medicated shampoo in Spring Summer, bath every 4-7 days, whenever Patchy is real itchy & has his red paws/toes, itchy bum, etc …… I also use Hydrocortisone 1% cream, every night when Patch is sleeping, I do the skin body check for any red toes, red paws, white fur thinning out above right eye etc & lightly apply some Hydrocortisone cream next morning itch & redness has all cleared up also I use the “Huggie Baby Wipes” Cucumber & Aloe, when we come home from a walk or he goes outside, I wipe Patch down, a new baby wipe per section of the body, these Cucumber & Aloe wipes are really good, sold in Supermarket baby section, I think you can get special wipes for environment allergies & hot spots as well, there’s a Face Book group called “Dog issues, allergies and other information support” group, one of the admins uses the special wipes & has started cooking & using “Balance It” to balance the diet……
Normally when they have Food Sensitivities/Intolerances they will have stomach & bowel problems & itchy skin…….My Patch gets he has Seasonal Environment Allergies & Food Intolerances & Sensitivities to certain foods, I did an elimination diet, then started adding foods… there’s no point trying a vegan diet, the carbs would be thru the roof 50-70% carbs like the vet diets have & you want a low carb diet……dogs are made to eat meat, have you thought of trying a Raw diet?? Patch did real well on Raw diet his skin cleared up within 1 week BUT cause he has IBD he kept regurgitating water up into his mouth, I think it was the Digestive enzymes the Naturopath made me use cause of his IBD I was so worried he’ll get diarrhea from the raw diet, so we used digestive enzymes & I think they digested the raw to quick & Patch was burping up & water was coming up into mouth… I’m going to try the raw again next Summer…..
I would honestly start again with the diet building up the immune system probiotice foods high in probiotics Kefir/yogurt etc & see if you see a change, if your on face Book Monica Segal has a group called “K9Kitchen” she has put up a easy recipe to make called “Omega 3 Boost” cookies, I’m going to make some for Patch, I really believe you need to boost their omega 3 & some kibbles are very high in omega 6 & very low in omega 3 then the dog starts having skin problems, stop the fish oils & try other things that are high in omega 3, olive oil, sardines in Spring water are good 1-2 a day this way its given thru foods… also what tin foods are you feeding? I was feeding tin foods at night as well & they were making Patch itch they had gelling agents in them something in the wet food made his paws go real red & he’d start licking his paws & get itchy, try replacing the wet tin foods with cooked meals… I’m feeding boil chicken breast, sweet potato not much only 1/4 to 1/3 cup & broccoli & 1 cup chicken, cook & add greens zucchini celery spinach etc… I feed more protein then carbs in the cooked meals…1 cup meat 1/2 cup veggies…DieselJunkiMember
In order to get enough Omega 3 into the dog using sardines you’d need a bucket full everyday! It’s best to give a human grade fish body oils with no tocopherols in it as those tocopherols can cause allergy reactions. Most pet product fish oils have tocopherols in it, I haven’t seen one that doesn’t have that in it.
Country Life is a brand of fish oil (anchovy and sardine) that is human grade and has 0 preservatives, flavorings, or other nonsense in it. It’s specifically called ‘Country Life Super Omega-3’, but do be sure to look at ingredients as they have other fish oil products that may be called something similar! These are only in capsules however.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by DieselJunki.
I personally would definitely consider something in the diet as a potential cause of your pup’s issues (but not “meat” in general). They are now finding that food sensitivities and allergies can trigger a WIDE range of symptoms. As an example of how diverse symptoms can be, they have discovered that gluten (which is a protein) causes “cramping” in Border Terriers “Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome in BTs is a gluten-sensitive movement disorder triggered and perpetuated by gluten and thus responsive to a gluten-free diet.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26500168
It might be worth trying an elimination diet however it is often beneficial to have a vets assistance with this as even though the pup seems to be feeling better in general, symptoms can actually get worse short term. Even after the offending food, if that is the problem, is eliminated, the body has to get rid of the histamine etc that was elevated by the problem food — which manifests as symptoms.
Regarding the fish oil / tochopherol comment – tochopherol is simply vitamin E. I have read however that the source of the tochopherols can be problematic as much is sourced from soybeans. For those that react to fish oils with added tochopherols it might be worth investigating if the vitamin was sourced from soybeans.Marie PMember
Hi Christina B – I would be glad to help you with some special balanced recipes for your baby .. Often home cooking can help along with a Good Local VET. Looks like you have done a good job bringing you baby to the Vet for exam and testing. Please contact me and we can talk about some herbs, supplements and home-cooking..
e-mail me for more info ; Marie Peppers *********@gmail.com
Check out my blog — I am updating info often
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